Guy de Jonquieres (FT 1968-2007)
I almost caused an international financial crisis in 2006 when, as the FT’s Asia columnist, I wrote an op-ed article headlined: “Comrades, we must allow the renminbi to rise”. Purporting to be a leaked copy of an address by Zhou Xiaochuan, then governor of China’s central bank, to the Communist Party’s central committee, it argued that it was in China’s own interest to abandon its long-standing refusal to revalue its currency, as the US was pressing it hard to do.
As soon as the article appeared, Richard McGregor, then the FT’s Beijing bureau chief, was summoned to the bank to receive a furious dressing-down and a demand for explanations. He patiently explained that the column was a spoof and that no western reader would think governor Zhou was really its author. That defence seemed to quieten things down until Ted Alden, my Washington colleague, emailed me to say a Senate committee was at that very moment questioning John Snow, the US Treasury Secretary, and quoting at length the words I had put into Mr Zhou’s mouth in that day’s FT.
Meanwhile, in London, the Chinese embassy had contacted the editor to demand a retraction and an apology, a request that was politely declined. Instead, the FT printed a few days later a “clarification” stating, rather flatteringly, that the Chinese central bank wanted it to be known that the offending column was entirely my work and not that of Governor Zhou.