China regulator seeks to avoid US delistings of Chinese firms

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Chinese authorities are working with U.S. counterparts to prevent Chinese companies being delisted from U.S. stock exchanges, a Chinese regulatory official said on Thursday, as a lengthy dispute about auditing standards rumbles on.

U.S. authorities are moving towards kicking foreign companies off American stock exchanges if their audits fail to meet U.S. standards.

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The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and U.S. policy makers have long complained of a lack of access to audit working papers for U.S.-listed Chinese companies. Citing national security concerns, Chinese authorities have been reluctant to allow overseas regulators to inspect working papers from local accounting firms.

"We don’t think that delisting of Chinese firms from the US market is a good thing either for the companies, for global investors or Chinese-US relations," Shen Bing, director general of the China Securities Regulatory Commission's department of international affairs, told a conference in Hong Kong.

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"We are working very hard to resolve the auditing issue with U.S. counterparts, the communication is currently smooth and open. There is a risk of delisting of these companies but we are working very hard to prevent it from happening," he added.

In December 2020, during the final weeks of his administration, President Donald Trump signed a law aimed at removing foreign companies from U.S. exchanges if they failed to comply with American auditing standards for three years in a row.

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The legislation was implemented by the PCAOB in September. A map on the organization's website showed China as the only jurisdiction that denied the PCAOB "necessary access to conduct oversight."

 (Reporting by Scott Murcoch; Writing by Alun John; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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