Has China’s signaled regulatory reprieve come too late?

Has China’s signaled regulatory reprieve come too late?

Startup and Technology News

Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, and especially technology concerns, are ripping higher this morning. Driving the day’s trading were comments from Chinese government official Liu He concerning both foreign-listed Chinese shares and the pace of reform in the country’s economy.

Yesterday, The Exchange noted that a selloff of Chinese equities had steepened in recent days; uncertainty regarding the Chinese government’s COVID-19 policies, its closeness to the increasingly ostracized Russian government, rapid-fire regulations on major tech companies, and a shift in government thinking regarding its economy — the “common prosperity” effort — had rattled investors.

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Today, however, in light of the pronouncement, things are looking up for Chinese companies, at least in valuation terms. For example, the NASDAQ Golden Dragon China Index, comprising 93 different U.S.-listed Chinese companies, shot nearly 18% higher this morning. Alibaba and Baidu are up 17% apiece, shares of Bilibili are up 30%, and so on.

What’s changing?

Has China’s signaled regulatory reprieve come too late?The comments in question — here, in Chinese — indicate, per a CNBC translation, that the “Chinese government continues to support various kinds of businesses’ overseas listings.”

For holders of foreign shares of Chinese companies, that’s a relief given market concern that companies could be forced to delist. The document also notes that regulatory work should be completed rapidly — more welcome news. Other topics were mentioned, including monetary policy, the country’s real estate market and Hong Kong.

That the Chinese government is potentially retreating from the posture it struck last year when it was busy going after Chinese tech companies’ business models, labor practices, data policies and capital sources is incredibly important. Not only for the companies directly impacted by the day’s news, but also startups looking to build in the country.

Recall that we saw an early indication yesterday that the pace of venture investment in China is slowing in the first quarter. No single factor can claim the full mantle of responsibility for that change. But many contributed to it, and if China is willing to keep open more avenues for exits — foreign IPOs — while creating more regulatory room for companies to build, well, it’s a good recipe for more startup activity.

The Chinese venture capital market once challenged the United States’ VC market in activity terms. Those days are now years past. But leading status or not, there are a lot of folks who want to build in China, so we’re tracking their fortunes.

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