The United States Senate has passed a bill that could block some Chinese companies from selling shares on American stock exchanges.

The bill was introduced by Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Senator John Kennedy, who said that “China has to play by the rules”. The law would require all foreign companies to follow US standards, such as to prove they are not under the control of a foreign government.

“Publicly listed companies should all be held to the same standards, and this bill makes common sense changes to level the playing field and give investors the transparency they need to make informed decisions”, Van Hollen said.

After it was approved by unanimous consent, the bill now has to be passed by the House of Representatives before being signed into law by president Donald Trump.

Shares in some of the biggest US-listed Chinese firms, including Baidu and Alibaba, slid on Thursday in New York while the broader market gained.

The move is the latest in the US-China tensions that increased amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier, Trump said he has proof suggesting the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which China has repeatedly denied. Trump also threatened to freeze US funding to the World Health Organisation, which he blamed of being “China-centric”.

According to sources close to the US intelligence community, the WHO was aware of the potential for a pandemic emanating from China as early as in September of last year.

A CIA report found that China tried to prevent the WHO from sounding the alarm on the outbreak in January, when it was stockpiling medical supplies from around the world.

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