On U.S. delisting threat, China says 'decoupling' would harm both sides

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By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) – China warned on Monday of instability in international markets from any “decoupling” of China and the United States, after sources said the Trump administration was considering delisting Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering the move, three sources briefed on the matter said on Friday, in what would be a radical escalation of U.S.-China trade tensions.

It would be part of a broader effort to limit U.S. investment in Chinese companies, two of the sources said. One said it was motivated by the Trump administration’s growing security concerns about the companies’ activities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he had noted the reports on delisting and the response from the U.S. Treasury, which said there were no plans to block Chinese listings “at this time”.

China-U.S. trade and financial cooperation is mutually beneficial, Geng told a daily news briefing.

“Exerting maximum pressure and even seeking the forced decoupling of China-U.S. relations will harm the interests of Chinese and American companies and people, create turmoil in financial markets, and endanger global trade and economic growth,” he added.

“This does not accord with the interests of the international community.”

Geng said he hoped the United States would work with China to deepen economic and financial cooperation, and that the United States would take a “constructive attitude” toward resolving differences.

Stocks in mainland China fell to their lowest in almost a month on Monday on the news that the United States may curb Chinese companies’ access to U.S. capital markets, stoking fears of a major escalation in the trade war.

The news comes just ahead of celebrations in Beijing on Tuesday marking 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, at which President Xi Jinping will oversee a massive military parade.

The United States and China have been locked in an escalating trade war for over a year. They have levied punitive duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s goods, roiling financial markets and threatening global growth.

In June, U.S. lawmakers from both parties introduced a bill to force Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges to submit to regulatory oversight, including providing access to audits, or face delisting.

Chinese authorities have long been reluctant to let overseas regulators inspect local accounting firms – including member firms of the Big Four international accounting networks – citing national security concerns.

China and the United States are due to resume high-level talks next week in Washington on their increasingly bitter trade war.

China hopes Beijing and Washington will resolve their trade dispute “with a calm and rational attitude”, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, who has been part of China’s negotiating team, said on Sunday.

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