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U.S. audit inspection of Chinese companies in Hong Kong ends

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: China’s and U.S.’ flags are seen printed on paper in this illustration taken January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
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By Xie Yu and Julie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – U.S. audit watchdog’s onsite inspection of the audit work of New York-listed Chinese firms, which started in Hong Kong in September, has ended, three people with knowledge of the matter said, raising hopes of a resolution of a long-pending dispute.

The seven-week long onsite work by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the U.S. audit watchdog, ended on Friday, said the sources, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The inspection started in Hong Kong after the two countries signed a pact in August to resolve a dispute that threatened to exclude more than 200 Chinese companies, including tech giant Alibaba (NYSE:) Group Holding Ltd, from U.S. exchanges.

A spokesperson for the PCAOB declined to comment.

Two of the sources cautioned that it was too early to tell whether the onsite inspection had been to the satisfaction of the U.S. agency, which has said it would not accept any curbs on its access to the audit papers of New York-listed Chinese firms.

Bloomberg earlier on Friday reported, citing sources familiar with the matter, onsite U.S. inspections of Chinese company audits have been completed ahead of schedule.

Chinese markets soared on Friday, with news of an end to the onsite inspection of audit papers raising hopes that the U.S. officials were satisfied, and added to the broader optimism over speculation and news reports that China may ease its tough COVID restrictions.

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