Chinese Internet plays jumped this afternoon after the U.S. Senate voted to give China permanent access to U.S. markets, paving the way for it to join the
World Trade Organization
Internet services company
led the charge, rising 14% to $18.25 in late afternoon trading. Fellow Internet concerns
weren't far behind, rising 8%, 6% and 3%, respectively. (See
Chinadotcom, which was the first Chinese Internet company to list on a U.S. market, was also likely helped today by the opening of its Opportunity Asia conference in Hong Kong. The forum, focusing on monetizing the Internet in Asia, will move to San Francisco and New York later this month.
Thomas Tuttle, fund manager at the
Colonial Newport Tiger Fund
, says that "the next stage
for China is full admission to the WTO and then we really have some fun."
Chinese Internet shares have been building gains in recent weeks in anticipation of action by the Senate. Although changes in China's market, and access for foreign companies, are likely to take some time, it is seen as a positive step in bringing the country into the global financial system.
In this vein, Tuttle cautioned that WTO entry will not reshape China overnight. "While there is a huge opportunity for Western companies in China, this is not a panacea," he says. "The Chinese are well protected. If you're going to come in as a foreign company you still have all these problems in investing in China."
Opponents of the Senate legislation had tried to block the bill by tacking on amendments that required China to desist from activities such as selling weapons that would allow other countries to develop nuclear programs. These were defeated, however, and the long-delayed legislation now goes to
, who is expected to sign it into law.