China’s move to abruptly halt the world’s biggest stock-market debut sends global investors a clear message: Any financial opening will only be done on terms that benefit President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

Policy makers in Beijing shocked the investment world on Tuesday by suspending an initial public offering by Ant Group Co., a fintech company owned by billionaire Jack Ma -- China’s second-richest man. The decision came just two days before shares were set to trade in a listing that attracted at least US$3 trillion ($4.07 trillion) of orders from individual investors.

The timing of the decision showed once again that for Xi and the party, financial and political stability take precedence over ceding control of the economy -- especially to a private company. In Beijing’s view, allowing the IPO to go forward could effectively give Ant too much sway over the financial system, posing broader risks that could ultimately undermine the party’s grip on power.

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