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China snubs crackdown as a measure to improve data privacy and national security

In a meeting with Wall Street CEOs, China’s top regulators justified their market-roiling assault on numerous industries, telling them that the tougher laws aren’t intended at suffocating technology businesses or the private sector.

Image: News 24

According to a person familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private, China Securities Regulatory Commission Vice Chairman Fang Xinghai said recent actions included strengthening regulations for companies with consumer-facing platforms, as well as improving data privacy and national security. Fang supported policies directed at the education and gaming sectors, claiming that they are intended to decrease social anxiety.

Beijing’s regulatory attack on its top technology companies and other industries, as well as President Xi Jinping’s quest for “shared prosperity,” has alarmed global investors. Wall Street has been booming in China as the country opens its financial markets to investment banks, wealth, and money managers, with billions of dollars in potential profits on the line.

According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the head of the People’s Bank of China, as well as officials from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citadel, and other Wall Street powerhouses, attended the three-hour China-US Financial Roundtable conference on Thursday.

The roundtable, which was initially convened in September 2018, was resurrected at the meeting. According to Fang, increasing monitoring of Chinese firms should not be construed as a dissociation from US or international financial markets. He stated that Beijing is still devoted to technology. On Saturday, which was a working day in China, the CSRC did not immediately reply to a faxed request for comment.

In the midst of a larger sell-off, Beijing’s regulatory campaign wiped $1.5 trillion from Chinese equities. Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed gaming behemoth, lost its spot among the world’s ten largest corporations by the market value this week, leaving no Chinese stock on the list for the first time since 2017. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, China’s second most valuable firm behind Tencent, has seen its stock fall by more than 30% this year.

In July, China’s State Council — the country’s cabinet — said that regulations for foreign listings would be changed and that businesses dealing in offshore markets would be subject to tighter regulatory scrutiny.

Chinese policymakers are also mulling tighter monitoring of a legally ambiguous company structure used by Chinese internet companies to seek overseas listings, with certain legislative changes already in the works. All of this has increased investors’ concerns about a wider financial decoupling between the world’s two most powerful economies.

According to sources familiar with the subject, Larry Fink of Blackrock Inc. mentioned the necessity for China to guarantee continuity of long-term government policies, including transparency, in order to develop trust and confidence. Blackrock’s spokesperson declined to comment.

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