US giants Nike and Coca-Cola will stay in China, quashing fears of a mass exodus by corporate America in the wake of jeans giant Levi Strauss' decision to quit the mainland over concern about human rights abuses. Levi's move to pull the plug on its China manufacturing and sales - promptly dubbed Section 501 after the top-selling jeans - ripped 102.87 points off the Hang Seng Index in early morning trading yesterday. Nike Inc vice-president Neal Lauridsen said: ''I cannot imagine this would have any impact on our plans in China.'' The shoe giant, which last year shifted US$3.4 billion worth of turnover, has been lobbying against withdrawal or conditioning of China's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade status. Coca-Cola, which has some US$100 million invested in China, also plans to stay. A spokesman for the company in Hongkong said: ''We work very closely with our bottlers and our suppliers in China and we are confident there are no uses of prison or child labour in our system. ''Unlike some companies, which are buying from affiliated vendors over which they may not have as much control as we do, we employ 5,000 local people and have long-term commitments to them and investors.'' Political analysts said a trend for commercial operations to quit China over human rights would have provided a field day for American legislators opposed to unconditional renewal of MFN. Trade specialist Simon Luk, a partner with Pettit and Martin, said: ''The fact is that a US company, with a very well-known brand name, is taking the human rights issue very seriously. ''That's indeed a slap in the face, especially when it comes out in the form of a public statement. But how serious depends on whether or not it becomes a trend. ''If it is not a trend, it is not serious, but if it is a trend, it could increase pressure on politicians, mostly congressmen but also in the White House, to do something.'' Mr Luk noted that US companies were suffering from a spate of shareholder revolt: no longer content just to skim off profits and dividends, American investors were now taking a more active role in the way their companies were run, and ethics were a hot issue. Businessman John Kamm, whose company produces an MFN bulletin, said: ''There's really quite a lot of discussion going on in the boardrooms of corporate America about how American companies should conduct themselves in countries whose human rights records are the object of intense scrutiny.'' Hongkong investors and traders lost confidence over both the Levi decision itself and its timing: the announcement appeared on the eve of Governor Chris Patten's meeting with US President Bill Clinton to plead the case for unconditional renewal of China's MFN. Mr Luk said: ''They are subject to some pressure from shareholders, or for PR purposes, and the fact it is announced on the eve of Mr Clinton's decision on whether to renew MFN and with or without conditions next year is indeed a drawback for Hongkong and others who want renewal without conditions. ''This puts a lot of pressure on the US Government, because even companies - with purely commercial considerations - are taking the issue of human rights into their decisions.''