(ATF) Matt Pottinger, a key adviser to Trump on Chinese policy, was among staff to quit the administration on Wednesday Jan 7 in reaction to the president’s encouragement of mob violence the day before. Transportation secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Education secretary Betsy DeVos also resigned.
The departure of Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos will hamper the Trump administration's ability to get things done prior to the handover to officials selected by President-elect Joe Biden.
The absence of staff such as Pottinger, a Mandarin-speaking former journalist and ex-marine who has served in the administration throughout Trump’s turbulent four years in office, could affect the pace of issuance of detail about executive orders in the two weeks before Joe Biden is inaugurated as president on January 20.
But a sharp fall in the share prices of China’s leading technology companies Alibaba and Tencent since a report on Wednesday that they could be added to a Trump administration blacklist highlights that a competently implemented executive order is not needed to roil markets.
Both Alibaba and Tencent saw a drop of around 4% for their Hong King-listed shares on Wednesday January 7.
Sheer confusion about the implications of attempts to ban US investments in companies that are said to have links with China’s military has caused high volatility in some Chinese stocks and warnings from lawyers about potential risks for investors.
A bizarre series of policy reversals by the New York Stock Exchange this week over whether to delist three Chinese telecom firms has already moved markets, both up and down.
Alibaba and Tencent are much bigger companies that are included in many widely traded global benchmark indices, even if most trading of their shares is not done on US exchanges.
Alibaba had been discussing an international bond issue of $6 billion to $8 billion that could have helped to demonstrate confidence in the group despite the ongoing speculation about the whereabouts of its founder Jack Ma, and the broader impact of potential changes in Chinese regulation.
But the fall in Alibaba’s share price since the report about a potential widening of the Trump executive order will make a successful bond sale challenging.
President Trump's former loyal allies in the Republican party, including outgoing vice-president Pence, are under growing pressure from Democrats to remove him from office after his role in inciting disorder in Washington on Wednesday January 7.
That may not happen before the scheduled inauguration of Joe Biden as president on January 20, but further staff departures are likely from a Trump administration that is descending even further into chaos.