With its exit, Didi sends a signal: China no longer needs Wall Street

The decades-long, trillion-dollar love affair between China and Wall Street is coming to an end.

Didi Chuxing, a $39 billion company that is China’s answer to Uber, said Friday that it would delist its shares from the New York Stock Exchange. Just six months ago, Didi was a Wall Street darling, raising billions of dollars from US pension funds and international investors in a splashy New York initial public offering.

Those sorts of deals once fueled a three-decade relationship that helped reshape the global political and financial landscape. China generated heaps of money for Wall Street by hiring banks to manage deals like IPOs. In return, Wall Street gave China access to the halls of global finance and political power, especially when it came to introductions in Washington.

Didi’s abrupt decision to leave brings home a stark truth for Wall Street: China doesn’t need it anymore. The world’s No. 2 economy has plenty of its own money and few problems attracting more from elsewhere. China’s friends on Wall Street have lost their sway in Washington at a time when mistrust of Beijing’s intentions is running high. And China’s leaders would rather keep tight control of its companies than open them up to investors on US markets.

Now Wall Street has become the latest area in which leaders on both sides are trying to weaken the extensive and complicated ties between the world’s two largest economies. And just as the alliance of China and Wall Street helped shape business in the past, the way the two sides disentangle those ties could reshape its future.

Beijing has been asserting greater control over its private companies, particularly those like Didi, which has extensive data on hundreds of millions of Chinese taxi hailers and ride sharers.

The US government, which sees China as the greatest economic, political and military rival, has been putting pressure of its own on Chinese ties. It has forced some state-controlled Chinese companies in delist their US shares. On Thursday, the US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted rules that would require reluctant Chinese companies listed in the United States to further open their books to American accounting firms or get kicked off its stock exchanges.