China regulator seeks to avoid US delistings of Chinese firms

Chinese authorities have been reluctant to allow overseas regulators to inspect working papers from local accounting firms.
Chinese authorities have been reluctant to allow overseas regulators to inspect working papers from local accounting firms.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - The Chinese authorities are working with United States counterparts to prevent Chinese companies being delisted from US stock exchanges, a Chinese regulatory official said on Thursday (Nov 25), as a lengthy dispute about auditing standards rumbles on.

The US authorities are moving towards kicking foreign companies off American stock exchanges if their audits fail to meet US standards.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and US policymakers have long complained of a lack of access to audit working papers for US-listed Chinese companies. Citing national security concerns, the Chinese authorities have been reluctant to allow overseas regulators to inspect working papers from local accounting firms.

"We don't think that delisting of Chinese firms from the US market is a good thing either for the companies, for global investors or Chinese-US relations," Mr Shen Bing, director-general of the China Securities Regulatory Commission's department of international affairs, told a conference in Hong Kong.

"We are working very hard to resolve the auditing issue with US counterparts, the communication is currently smooth and open. There is a risk of delisting of these companies but we are working very hard to prevent it from happening," he added.

In December last year, during the final weeks of his administration, then President Donald Trump signed a law aimed at removing foreign companies from US exchanges if they failed to comply with American auditing standards for three years in a row.

The legislation was implemented by the PCAOB in September. A map on the organisation's website showed China as the only jurisdiction that denied the PCAOB "necessary access to conduct oversight".