Chinese tech companies need to disappear for a while

Chinese tech companies need to disappear for a while

For Chinese technology companies, January can’t come soon enough.

Giants from Huawei Technologies Co. to TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. can have no doubt left: There will be no let-up in the Trump administration’s efforts to entrench its China policy before leaving office. That’s undermining hopes that a change of U.S. president might lead to an easing in the technology cold war.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to push ahead with a plan that could lead to the delisting of Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges is just the latest salvo. Last week, Trump issued an executive order barring investments in Chinese companies that are owned or controlled by the military. Since the Nov. 3 election, the State Department also slapped sanctions on more people accused of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.

U.S. officials have made no secret of their strategy: “Future U.S. presidents will find it politically suicidal to reverse President Trump’s historic actions,” John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said this week. Shifting the goalposts will make it harder for Joe Biden to move them back, assuming the president-elect even wants to.

The SEC’s action was unusual. Most agencies stop issuing major new policies after a presidential election, particularly when power has changed hands, as Robert Schmidt and Ben Bain of Bloomberg News reported. The issue of allowing U.S. regulators access to the audits of Chinese companies listed on American markets is a longstanding one. The new regulations have been discussed since at least August and it’s unlikely they will be finalized before Donald Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20. That means completing the task would be left to an SEC chief picked by the incoming president.