Chinese Internet Plays Jump on Senate Vote - TheStreet

Chinese Internet Plays Jump on Senate Vote

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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

Chinadotcom

(CHINA)

led the charge, rising 14% to $18.25 in late afternoon trading. Fellow Internet concerns

SINA.com

(SINA) - Get Report

,

Sohu.com

(SOHU) - Get Report

and

Asiainfo Holdings

(ASIA)

weren't far behind, rising 8%, 6% and 3%, respectively. (See

related story.)

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

President Clinton

, who is expected to sign it into law.