Hong Kong officials and businesspeople heaved a sigh of relief last week after China’s top legislative body ended with no mention of the draft anti-sanctions law for the city. The draft law was expected to be passed for Hong Kong to counter foreign government sanctions, especially those from the United States. Now the legislative momentum seems to have been halted. Experts have offered various explanations. But one is the most obvious, that is, if you follow the money. Despite all the vitriol and antagonism between Washington and Beijing, Wall Street and China have never been closer. Imposing an anti-sanctions law on international financial institutions that have complied with Washington’s sanctions against Hong Kong and mainland Chinese interests and personnel would put them in an untenable position. Despite all the talk about decoupling, China has been more open to foreign financial institutions than ever. Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and JPMorgan are all finally jumping into bed with big Chinese banks to form highly lucrative wealth management partnerships to tap into an underdeveloped pensions market potentially worth trillions; likewise, Amundi and Schroders from Europe. Beijing’s surprise move to delay sanctions law for Hong Kong – what happened? Paradoxically, thanks to the crackdown on Chinese firms listed in the US by American regulators and politicians, Hong Kong and Shanghai have become the default choices for their so-called homecoming (stock relisting) or initial public offerings for other mainland firms. All that has meant more lucrative business for the same global investment banks that advise and help engineer their Chinese clients’ listings. US banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have generated fees worth US$460 million advising Chinese IPOs in the first six months of this year. Top Hong Kong officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor may find it inconvenient being targeted by US sanctions; she has complained about having to keep piles of cash at home because banks and credit card companies won’t serve her. But the Hong Kong government can only welcome the stock listing opportunity to reinforce Hong Kong as the world’s premier IPO destination, especially at a time when the introduction of the national security law has raised concerns about maintaining the city as a global financial hub. Face and national pride notwithstanding, US sanctions haven’t really hurt the mainland and Hong Kong economies. It makes far more sense to scratch Wall Street’s back, which has been lobbying Washington to ease the sanctions as counterproductive.