THE TIES that bind the world’s two biggest economies are unravelling, in fits and starts. The latest episode involved fits, starts and chaos. On December 31st the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced that it would delist China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, three telecoms giants, shares in which have been traded on Wall Street for years. It did so, it said, to comply with President Donald Trump’s executive order in November banning American investments in companies with links to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
This set off a fit among their American shareholders. As the trio’s share prices swung wildly, funds scrambled to sell their stakes before the delisting, which the NYSE said would occur by January 11th. Speculation raged that CNOOC and PetroChina, state-run energy goliaths also listed in New York, could be next. Then came the start. Late on January 4th the NYSE declared it would not eject the firms after all. Those same funds faced the prospect of repurchasing the shares, the price of which had popped up on news of the NYSE’s U-turn. If that weren’t chaotic enough, two days later the NYSE changed its mind again. It would, after all, boot out the three companies.
One thing is clear: Chinese companies listed in America face uncertain times. In…