THIS BYSTANDER IS as taken aback as anyone by the New York Stock Exchange’s abrupt and unexpected volte-face over delisting three Chinese telcos.
The only explanation the exchange has given for reversing its December 31 announcement that it was initiating the delisting of China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom HK to comply with a November executive order issued by US President Donald Trump, is that it no longer intends to move forward ‘in light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities’.
There is clearly more backstory to come out, including whose ‘relevant regulatory authorities’ were consulted.
The optimistic interpretation is that the about-turn reflects expectations of a less combative approach towards China once US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. Yet if that was the case, the NYSE could have slow-walked making its initial decision until after then.
To this Bystander. a more realistic explanation is that the NYSE has been given cause for concern that the trickle of listings moving from New York to Hong Kong will turn into a torrent and that Wall Street firms’ much-expanded access to China’s financial markets achieved over the past year — the real win of Trump’s Phase One US-China trade deal signed a year ago — is at serious risk of being cut back by retaliatory moves from Beijing.
At Tuesday’s foreign ministry’s daily press conference, spokeswoman Hua Chunying took the high ground, saying:
The role of the US as the global financial centre is dependent on the trust by global companies and investors in the inclusiveness and credibility of its rules. [Delisting} seriously breached the much-touted principles of market economy and fair competition, as well as international economic and trade rules.
Leaving plenty of room for low cunning.