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China suspends UK stock exchange link

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China has temporarily blocked planned cross-border listings between the Shanghai and London stock exchanges because of political tensions with the United Kingdom, five sources told the Reuters news agency.

Suspending the Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme casts a shadow over the future of a project meant to build ties between the UK and China, help Chinese firms expand their investor base and give mainland investors access to UK-listed companies.

The sources, who include public officials and people working on potential Shanghai-London deals, cited politics as the reason behind the suspension.

Two of them highlighted the UK’s stance over the Hong Kong protests and one pointed to remarks over the detention of a now-former staff member at its consulate in Hong Kong.

All five sources have been involved in talks with Chinese officials and spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak about the matter publicly.

British companies and banks involved in the scheme are watching closely how recently-elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson approaches relations with Beijing and what stance he takes on Hong Kong, which has been roiled by protests.

China blames the Hong Kong unrest, heavily supported by an anti-government movement seeking to curb controls by Beijing, on interference by foreign governments including the United States and the UK.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Shanghai Stock Exchange did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the London Stock Exchange and a spokeswoman for the UK’s finance ministry declined to comment.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a faxed statement that it was not aware of the specifics, but added that it “hopes the UK can provide a fair and unbiased business environment for Chinese companies that invest in the UK and create the appropriate conditions for both countries to carry out practical cooperation smoothly in various fields”.

Stock Connect, which began operating last year, was devised as a way of improving the UK’s relationship with the world’s second-biggest economy and was seen as a significant step by China to open up its capital markets as well as linking them globally.

China chill

Huatai Securities was the first Chinese company to use the scheme in May, with SDIC Power set to become the second in December with a listing of financial instruments known as global depository receipts (GDRs) in London representing 10 percent of its share capital.

However, the alternative energy operator’s deal was postponed at an advanced stage, with SDIC Power citing market conditions as the main reason.

Five sources told Reuters, SDIC Power’s deal was halted because of Beijing’s suspension of Stock Connect.

GDRs are certificates issued by financial institutions that allow a company’s shares to be traded on an overseas exchange.

Other hopefuls such as China Pacific Insurance, which one of the sources said could have launched a deal as early as the first quarter of 2020, have also been told to put their cross-border listing plans on ice, they added.

SDIC Power and China Pacific Insurance did not respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.

“It’s not only a big blow to the companies looking to broaden the investor base via listings in London, but also to China’s links with global markets,” one source, who has worked on one of the GDR deals, told Reuters.

The trouble with the scheme comes at a bad time for the UK, which is eager to build ties with non-European Union countries as it prepares to leave the bloc.

The London exchange was set for its worst year in terms of new listings in 10 years as of December 4, Refinitiv data showed, with political volatility and concerns over the UK’s EU divorce crimping stock market fundraising.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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What to Do When Your Coworker Brings Up Politics – Harvard Business Review

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Cactus Creative Studio/Stocksy

Political topics have always been challenging in the workplace, but never more than now. In the past, the goal was to avoid escalation. Today the conversation often starts heated. Furthermore, they can feel unavoidable, especially if they’re sprung on you with no warning.

For example, imagine you’re on a Zoom call discussing accelerating a project deadline when your colleague, “Ned,” says, “This is a product release, not a vaccine.” And that was the fourth time in just this meeting he has laced his comments with politics. You can tell others feel he’s not just making jokes but pushing his opinions. What should you do?

No one wants to get into a heated debate with their coworkers, especially over Zoom or the phone. Fortunately, there are ways to venture into these topics that both yield a much higher likelihood of healthy dialogue, and leave you an exit path if it appears that’s not possible. I’ve found it’s possible to talk openly about far more controversial issues than we usually think, as long as you bring three things to the conversation: curiosityboundaries, and humility.

Years ago in London, I hailed a taxi for the 45-minute trip from the Gatwick airport to my hotel. After I informed the driver of my destination, he turned to face me and said, “You have an American accent. Are you American?”

“Yes,” I responded.

His eyes grew wide, he craned his neck to look back at me, and with great vehemence yelled a curse on the U.S. President.

It was late at night. I was tired. I weighed my willingness to engage in an energetic conversation and as I considered ignoring the comment I thought, “I should be able to do this. I should be able to talk to someone with a strong opinion even if I don’t fully agree.”

“Not too worried about your tip, I take it?” I said and smiled at his eyes in the mirror.

He broke into a broad grin, but it quickly disappeared. He repeated his curse a second time. Then he quickly moved into a lengthy indictment of U.S. foreign policy. His voice got louder and his face redder the more he spoke. He paused only long enough to draw a breath and it was clear he had more than 45 minutes’ worth of material he intended to share.

Ironically, I was in London to lecture about a book I had recently co-authored about politically and emotionally risky conversation. Given my itinerary, I felt a special obligation to practice what I was about to preach. So, I committed to attempt turning the remaining 40 minutes into a meaningful dialogue.

Remarkably, it worked. Of course, I knew once I got to my hotel that I wouldn’t have to see the driver again, but I was still invested in having a civil, and even productive, conversation. Next time you find yourself drawn into a discussion with someone who has strong political views, whether it’s a stranger or your colleague from another department, here are the three things you want to bring with you.

Curiosity 

Our temptation when someone comes on strong is to either shut down or amp up. We might withdraw into silence, feigning attention while seething in quiet judgment; or we fight for space, matching or exceeding the others’ provocative certainty. Both approaches produce more heat than light.

The way to turn conflict into conversation begins with curiosity. Curiosity is a virtue that need only to be practiced to be passed. It’s remarkable to see how quickly a debate deescalates when one party begins sincerely inquiring into the views of the other. And there almost always comes a point when the one being authentically heard involuntarily reciprocates.

For example, once your call ends, you could invite Ned to hang on the connection for a moment. Then start with something like, “Hey Ned, four times in the meeting you made comments that sounded like you were expressing your political views. If at some point you want to discuss those, I’m all ears.”

You don’t have to renounce your views in order to practice curiosity. All you have to do is set them aside. Don’t worry, you can pick them back up as soon as the conversation is done. But if you’re simultaneously clutching yours while conversing about others’, you’ll do justice to neither task. You shouldn’t consider your curiosity satisfied until you see the integrity of their position: how the experiences, perspective, and information they bring leads sensibly to the conclusion they hold.

Boundaries 

The problem with Ned’s offhanded comments in your meeting is the fact that he was turning a business meeting into a political platform. As you invite Ned into a conversation, you should also ask him to honor meeting boundaries. Assuming Ned shows an interest in sharing his views with you, you should first add, “And Ned, can I ask that in the future you avoid those kinds of comments in our meetings? That’s not the time or place for it. Okay?”

Setting boundaries at the beginning of a conversation is also helpful if you’re worried it might go off the rails. Before jumping into opinions, first, set the table. Ask for agreement on some boundaries, or ground rules that will keep things civil and balanced. Even people who disagree wildly about specific policies can usually agree quickly on simple rules of civil discourse. And if you gain their agreement before emotions escalate, they’ll often self-monitor in a way that keeps things somewhat healthy. And if they don’t, be sure you set a boundary about how you’ll handle it when someone violates the other rules.

Here’s how I set the table for a conversation with my taxi driver. I didn’t wait for him to pause as I didn’t sense one was coming anytime soon. Instead, I patted the back of his seat to interrupt him, and made him a proposition.

“I’m very interested in hearing your views,” I said. “I may agree with some of them but disagree with others. But I want equal time. Tell you what, can we agree that you get the first 10 minutes, then I get the next 10 minutes? If either of us gets too angry at the other, we’ll stop and ride quietly to my hotel. If it goes well, we might both be a little smarter when we’re done. Deal?”

He laughed heartily, turned to face me full on and said, “That’s a deal.”

Humility 

If you come to the conversation curious, you will almost always leave smarter. But only if you bring the third ingredient: humility.

It’s rare that when you begin to genuinely inquire into others’ experiences that you don’t find things that surprise you, teach you, and improve you. The sobering truth is that we don’t arrive at many of our most cherished opinions starting with a blank page. Whether we are Christian or Muslim, conservative or liberal, prefer Coke or Pepsi, our ideas are shaped more by the groups we identify with than the facts we sift through.

When we listen sincerely to others, we’re often humbled as we recognize how fragile the foundation of our own convictions can be. When that happens, have the integrity to concede those points. The more you point out areas of agreement, especially ones that involve relinquishing of previously cherished “facts,” the more likely the other person is to feel safe doing the same.

Ten minutes into my taxi ride, I was loath to interrupt the driver for my turn. I was so struck with the insight I was gaining seeing my country’s foreign policy from a 12,000-kilometer distance that I didn’t want to stop. I don’t know that my taxi-driver friend ended up seeing the world any differently when we were done with that ride, but I did. Not that my opinions were profoundly altered, but they became nuanced in a way that I was grateful for.

The same will happen with Ned if you are truly humble. Don’t approach the conversation with a goal of passing judgment. Approach it with the goal of understanding how Ned’s world works. If you do this well, you’ll begin to see how, given the information and experiences he has, he would come to the conclusions he holds. Feelings of derision are evidence that my motive is to convert not to learn.

Next time you cringe with apprehension when a colleague seems intent on bringing politics into a workplace conversation, take a breath. Then replace your judgment with curiosity. Consider putting up boundaries that move the conversation to the proper time and place, increase the likelihood of balanced dialogue, and provide an off ramp if needed. Swap certainty for humility. Perhaps these practices won’t immediately bring about world peace, but they’ll certainly increase the likelihood of meaningful conversation at work.

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Watchdogs Examine Pompeo's Election-Year Politics For Law Breaking – NPR

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been far more overtly political than his predecessors, raising ethics concerns about his possible Hatch Act violations.

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How Kamala Harris highlights what women in politics face – BBC News

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For minority women, these gender biases are compounded by racial ones too. And in the US, the trope of the “angry black woman” is an old, insidious stereotype. The trope, which emerged in the 19th Century, characterised black women as unfeminine, irrational and sassy.

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