The decision by the New York Stock Exchange to delist three China’s telecommunication giants has drawn ire from Beijing — but analysts say China is unlikely to take significant action to retaliate against Washington.
The stock exchange announced Thursday it will delist China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom. Trading is due to be suspended as soon as Jan. 7, or as late as Jan. 11. The Hong Kong-listed stocks of all three companies fell on Monday, the first trading day of the Hang Seng since the announcement. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom all fell more than 3% in Asia.
The move by the NYSE is in line with an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in November, that barred Americans from investing in companies allegedly connected to the Chinese military. That came as tensions between U.S. and China escalated further last year, with both sides squabbling over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, among others.
Responding to the U.S. move, China’s commerce ministry said Saturday that it will “take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.” Asked if even more Chinese companies might be delisted, Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer of investment firm KraneShares, said: “I don’t see this being extended beyond these three specific names, simply because this was really driven by this executive order.”
Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday, he said the order could “reverse course” after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. He added that on the Chinese side, Beijing will “want to give the Biden administration an opportunity to really start the relationship anew.” Ronald Wan, a non-executive chairman at Partners Financial Holdings, added that any actions taken by Beijing likely won’t be “significant.”
“We will need to see if the Chinese government will take retaliation against the U.S. But I think the actual things to be done will not be significant, maybe restricting some sort of U.S. government-related entities, activities in China or in Hong Kong. But actually, I think the government still welcomes U.S. capital and funds to go into Asia and Hong Kong markets,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.