US-listed Chinese firms face delisting under new Bill

Trump expected to sign legislation that lets US inspectors review firms' financial audits

Travellers waiting to check in for a China Southern Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport on Nov 23. The Trump administration on Wednesday issued rules to restrict travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and thei
Travellers waiting to check in for a China Southern Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport on Nov 23. The Trump administration on Wednesday issued rules to restrict travel to the United States by Chinese Communist Party members and their families.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • The United States House of Representatives has approved legislation that could ultimately lead to Chinese firms - including behemoths like Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu - being kicked off American exchanges if regulators are not allowed to review their financial audits.

The legislation won bipartisan support in the House on Wednesday after easily clearing the US Senate in May.

Its passage now sends the Bill to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it, in his administration's latest parting shot at Beijing.

While the legislation provides a phase-in period - penalties kick in only after three straight years of failure to comply - it represents intensifying scrutiny in Washington of ties with China.

Chinese companies for years have relied on access to American capital markets, and more broadly to dollar-based finance, as a key funding component.

"US policy is letting China flout rules that American companies play by, and it's dangerous," said Senator John Kennedy, one of the Bill's lead sponsors, in a statement on Wednesday.

"Today, the House joined the Senate in rejecting a toxic status quo, and I'm glad to see this Bill head to the President's desk."

In addition to requiring companies to allow US inspectors to review their financial audits, the measure - introduced by Mr Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, and Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat - requires companies to disclose whether they are under government control.

When asked about the legislation on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters that Beijing "firmly opposes politicising securities regulation" and called for enhancing dialogue and cooperation.

The ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment yesterday on the House's passage of the Bill.

In a separate decision, the Trump administration on Wednesday issued rules to restrict travel to the US by Chinese Communist Party members and their families, The New York Times newspaper reported yesterday.

The policy shift limits the validity of travel visas for party members and their families to one month and a single entry, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Previously, party members, like other Chinese citizens, could obtain US visitor visas of up to 10 years' duration, it said.

The move was part of ongoing action to protect the United States from the Chinese Communist Party's "malign influence", the newspaper quoted a spokesman for the State Department as saying.

In another hit to China, the US Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday that Customs officers at American ports would impound shipments containing cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a military-affiliated entity that is one of China's largest producers.

This follows US sanctions announced against the company in August that bar it from making any transaction with American companies and citizens.

NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2020, with the headline 'US-listed Chinese firms face delisting under new Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe