China’s telcos ask to be relisted on NYSE

Within moments of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom sent in requests for their shares to be reinstated to the New York Stock Exchange.

China’s three incumbent telcos, filed three separate but largely identical written requests with the NYSE, asking for the latter’s decision to delist the three companies’ share from the stock exchange to be reviewed and reversed.

“According to the NYSE Listed Company Manual, the review will be scheduled at least 25 business days from the date the request for review is filed,” said the companies in an update to the market. They “requested that the Committee (BoD or NYSE) reverse the (delisting) Determination and stay the trading suspension of the ADSs pending review of the Determination.”

The decision to halt the trading of the three companies’ American Depositary Shares (ADSs) on NYSE came into effect on 11 January, after two embarrassingly quick U-turns. American investors will have until November to part with their holdings. The decision was made in compliance with an Executive Order signed by the former President Trump to ban Americans from investing in companies deemed to be closely linked to China’s military.

In their requests the telcos defended their law abiding record, claiming that, since their listing on NYSE in the early 2000’s they have “complied strictly with the laws and regulations, market rules as well as regulatory requirements of its listing venues, and has been operating in accordance with laws and regulations.”

Meanwhile, “there is no assurance that the Company’s review request for the NYSE’s reversal of the Determination or request for staying the trading suspension of the ADSs pending review of the Determination will be successful,” the companies cautioned the investors.

The requests were sent on the same day (20 January 2021, US Eastern standard time) as Joe Biden was sworn in as the new president, a clear sign to urge the incoming administration to shift its stance towards China. Despite an expected sweeping change of directions on many issues under the new administration, early signs are showing a complete departure from the former administration’s China policy will be hard to come by.

So far, none of President Biden’s initial executive orders concern China. They are on re-joining the Paris Agreement on climate change, and on combatting the coronavirus. Mr Biden’s choice of top diplomats is also showing more continuity of policy towards China than a hard break.

Kurt Campbell, Biden’s choice for the Asia tsar position, is a recognised “early and important architect of a strategy to build up alliances and partnerships to keep Beijing in check”, and the selection is seen as “nod to bipartisanship on China and Asia strategy”. Antony J Blinken, the Biden administration’s Secretary of State, claimed at his nomination hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the basic principle (of the Trump administration’s China policy) was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”

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