Alibaba HK listing shows trade war’s market impact

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/19 23:08:40

Photo: Alibaba Group

E-commerce giant Alibaba is making headlines again, this time in the Washington Post, which asks "Why now, and why Hong Kong, for Alibaba's share sale?" The newspaper asks a good question, but it doesn't offer a good answer.

The Post said one reason why Alibaba chose Hong Kong for a share offering is that a blockbuster debut would show its confidence in Hong Kong's future at a difficult time for the city, and thus earn Alibaba goodwill at home. 

However, the newspaper may be reading too much into the Hong Kong share offering. 

Listing shares in Hong Kong takes time, so Alibaba must have started considering the plan long ago, before Hong Kong was hit by radical rioters. Alibaba is an international enterprise, so there's not much reason for it to get involved in the worrisome chaos in Hong Kong.

The main reason for the Hong Kong listing may be that the Chinese e-commerce giant wants to find alternative sources other than the US market to raise new funds. 

So will Alibaba leave the US behind? The answer is no. The US is the world's largest economy and plays a powerful role in the financial arena. As an international company, Alibaba cannot abandon the US. 

But the e-commerce giant has to diversify its financing sources amid the trade war to reduce its dependence on the US. It's to be expected to see the company ramp up efforts to ensure financial security as the trade war continues.

The Hong Kong listing can be seen as a bellwether. The trade war that the US launched has resulted in a reorganization of global industrial chains. 

No one wants to see China's economy decouple from that of the US, but some enterprises have begun to adjust their business strategies. 

So Alibaba's Hong Kong listing does deserve attention as a window to observe the impact of the trade war on the economic links between China and the US.

The US is still the world's financial superpower. But if Washington weaponizes American economic and market power to crack down on Chinese mainland-based companies amid the trade war, the US will see more cases like Alibaba's Hong Kong listing.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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