Thu, October 28, 2021


NYSE will remove share listings of Chinese telecom companies as Trump moves to ban Chinese apps Alipay and WeChat Pay

The New York Stock Exchange said it will proceed with a White House order to cease trading of three Chinese telecoms, the latest in a string of recent blows for Chinese companies dealt by the U.S. government.

It follows President Donald Trump's late Tuesday move to ban more Chinese mobile apps in the United States, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

The NYSE said Wednesday it will delist the shares of China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom on Jan. 11, to comply with a Nov. 12 executive order banning U.S. investment in companies that the Trump administration says support China's military.

The companies couldn't immediately be reached for comment. The NYSE has flip-flopped on whether to remove the shares from trading. On Dec. 31 it said it would delist the companies, but then on Monday said it was reversing course after consulting with the Treasury Department.

China hawks in Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., slammed the stock exchange for retaining the share listings. In its latest announcement, the NYSE said it would move forward with the delisting after receiving new guidance from Treasury.

The Treasury Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news came hours after Trump issued a separate executive order to ban transactions in the United States with eight Chinese mobile apps. The list includes Alipay and WeChat pay, which are mobile payment apps accepted by some U.S. retailers, largely to cater to Chinese tourists and visitors. Their corporate owners, Ant Group and Tencent, respectively, did not offer any immediate comment on the order.

The order will take effect in 45 days, after the start of the Biden administration, leaving its fate unclear.

The order follows a similar ban Trump began pursuing in August, when he prohibited transactions with the short-form video app TikTok and the social networking app WeChat, calling them national security threats. Federal courts so far have blocked those bans from taking effect as they hear lawsuits from the apps' supporters.

The new order refers to the eight additional apps as security threats, saying that they "automatically capture vast swaths of information from millions of users in the United States, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information, which would allow [China] and [the Chinese Communist Party] access to Americans' personal and proprietary information."

The order does not detail the types of transactions that will be banned. Instead, it instructs the Commerce Department to define in coming weeks the specific transactions.

Legal experts have previously said that the transaction bans could include barring downloads of the apps from the Apple and Google app stores or forbidding all financial transactions.

The other apps included in the order are CamScanner, an app that turns a mobile phone into a document scanner, and QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office.

CamScanner had 4.4 million downloads in the Apple and Google app stores last year in the United States, according to analytics provider Sensor Tower. Alipay had 207,000 downloads.

The targeting of Alipay marks another headache for Ant Group's controlling shareholder, Jack Ma, the Chinese tech entrepreneur who has recently clashed with Chinese authorities.

Published : January 07, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Jeanne Whalen