The boot on the statue of George Washington, the first president of the United States, is seen across from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) following Election Day in Manhattan, New York City, US, Nov 4, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The New York Stock Exchange’s two reversals within a week over its decision to delist three Chinese telecom companies highlight the randomness and uncertainty of the United States’ rules and regulations, and harm its image as a global financial hub, officials and experts said on Thursday.

The comments came after the NYSE said on Wednesday it will delist the companies on Monday, in another flip-flop a day after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly told the bourse chief he disagreed with its earlier decision to reverse the delisting.

The latest move highlights confusion over how to implement the executive order issued by the US president in November barring Americans from investing in over 30 companies that are alleged to be associated with the Chinese military, experts added.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Thursday quoted comments from Japan’s Nikkei financial Newspaper that the NYSE’s frequent changes on the delisting decision are causing chaos in the capital market.

By doing so, the US government is ultimately harming its own national interest and image. The status and credibility of the US as a global capital market will also inevitably be eroded and damaged, Hua said.

China will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” she added.

The NYSE originally announced on Dec 31 that it would delist China Mobile Ltd, China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. On Monday, after consulting with relevant regulators, it decided instead to keep them listed.

Wednesday’s decision marks a return to the original plan. The NYSE said in a statement that its latest decision, to move forward with the delisting, was based on new specific guidance received on Tuesday, from the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The on-again-off-again gyrations made for a volatile week for the three stocks. Two of the companies, China Mobile and China Unicom, have been listed on the NYSE since 1997 and 2000 respectively.

Jim Collins, CEO of Excelsior Capital Partners in New York, said: “It’s like following a tennis match. I can’t keep up with the back and forth. Access to capital has been so globalized, though, that I think it is all about politics and would have almost zero impact on the Chinese telcos’ ability to raise money from Western investors.”

China Merchants Securities, a Chinese securities company, said in a research note that the delisting will not have substantial impacts on the three Chinese telecom operators. “They have sufficient capital and diversified financing channels. Their businesses are also mainly concentrated in China, with large user bases and stable operations.”

Liu Chunsheng, an associate professor of international economics and trade at the Central University of Finance and Economics, said the delisting U-turns have undermined the US’ credibility as a global financial hub, by sparking concerns whether Washington will impose sanctions on firms from other economies in an arbitrary and unpredicted manner.

The U-turns could backfire in that they have provided an opportunity of elevating the financial heft of China, which has, by contrast, been consistent in gradually opening up its financial sector toward a more market-oriented, law-based position, Liu said.

That said, Liu stressed that there remains a long way to go for China to become a major global financial center.

“It will be beneficial for both sides if the Chinese and the US governments resolve their disputes in a number of fields, including regarding US-listed Chinese firms, via a comprehensive and open dialogue,” he added.