NYSE withdraws plans to delist three Chinese phone carriers

The order added to mounting U.S.-Chinese tension over technology, security and spying accusations

The New York Stock Exchange has withdrawn plans to remove shares of three Chinese state-owned phone carriers under an order by President Donald Trump that Beijing warned might lead to retaliation.

The exchange cited “further consultation” with regulators but its announcement late on January 4 gave no other details.

The NYSE said on Thursday it would remove China Telecom Corp. Ltd., China Mobile Ltd. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. under Mr. Trump’s November order barring Americans from investing in securities issued by companies deemed to be linked to the Chinese military.

The order added to mounting U.S.-Chinese tension over technology, security and spying accusations.

The Trump administration has imposed export controls and other sanctions on some Chinese companies, visa curbs on members of the ruling Communist Party and other restrictions.

Political analysts expect little change in policy under President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, due to widespread frustration with China’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft.

Mr. Trump’s November order bars Americans from investing in securities issued by companies deemed by the Defence Department to be part of efforts to modernize the Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.

The 2 million-member PLA is one of the biggest and most heavily-armed militaries. It is spending heavily to develop nuclear submarines, stealth fighters, ballistic missiles and other advanced weapons.

The Pentagon has added 35 companies to its blacklist. In addition to the phone carriers, they include telecom equipment giant Huawei, China’s biggest maker of processor chips, three state-owned oil producers and construction, aerospace, rocketry, shipbuilding and nuclear power equipment companies.

Hong Kong-traded shares in the three phone carriers surged on January 5. China Telecom rose 5.7%, China Mobile jumped 5.5% and China Unicom surged 6.7%. Shares in all three have fallen recently.

The Chinese government has accused Washington of misusing national security as an excuse to hamper competition and has warned that Trump’s order would hurt U.S. and other investors worldwide.

On Saturday, the Foreign Ministry said Beijing would take unspecified “necessary countermeasures” to protect its companies.

The government has made the same announcement following previous U.S. sanctions without taking action.

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