Date
18 October 2017
A paramilitary policeman stands guard in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing. Chinese officials are trying to reassert control of the country’s economic story line after stumbles over the stock markets and exchange-rate policies last year. Photo:
A paramilitary policeman stands guard in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing. Chinese officials are trying to reassert control of the country’s economic story line after stumbles over the stock markets and exchange-rate policies last year. Photo:

China presses analysts to brighten their forecasts

Chinese authorities are targeting economists, analysts and business reporters who give gloomy views on the economy.

They have issued issued verbal warnings to commentators whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with the government’s upbeat statements, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing government officials and analysts with knowledge of the matter.

Lin Caiyi, chief economist at Guotai Junan Securities Co. who has been outspoken about rising corporate debt, a glut of housing and the weakening Chinese currency, received a warning in recent weeks, the report says.

It was her second. The first came from the securities regulator, and the later one, these people said, from her state-owned firm’s compliance department, which instructed her to avoid making “overly bearish” remarks about the economy, particularly the currency.

Pressured by financial regulators bent on stabilizing the market, stock analysts at brokerage firms are becoming wary of issuing critical reports on listed companies.

Meanwhile, at least one Chinese think tank was told by propaganda officials not to cast doubt on a planned government program to help state companies reduce debt, according to the report.

While evidence of the clampdown is anecdotal, it appears widespread.

Government departments did not respond to requests for comment or declined to.

Commentary about the economy and reporting on business, unlike on politics or many social policies, have been relatively unfettered in China in a tacit acknowledgment by officials that a freer flow of information serves economic vitality.

Beijing moved to reassert control of the country’s economic story line after stumbles over the stock markets and exchange-rate policies last year fed doubts among investors about the government’s competence in navigating a hard-to-arrest slowdown in growth.

During the past two months, the Communist Party leadership has taken to talking up the economy to try to reassure global markets.

This message control risks further constraining information about the world’s second-largest economy and thereby deepening the anxieties of investors already suspicious about the reliability of official statistics and statements.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

RA

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