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Sunday, 6 March 2016 | MYT 11:03 PM

Delegate tells China parliament stock crisis "destroying middle class"

BEIJING: A Shanghai representative to the National People's Congress (NPC) on Sunday lambasted China's market regulators for igniting a stock crisis that is "destroying the Chinese middle class", a rare rebuke for authorities during their biggest annual event.

"The ten years of stock market development since 2007 is a decade of tears for Chinese investors," Fan Yun, a Shanghai businesswoman said during an open session at NPC in Beijing.

Fan, who has a reputation for being outspoken, laid into Chinese brokerages for failing to educate investors while also blaming regulators for failing to properly control the margin lending and alternative credit channels that helped inflate a stock bubble that is still deflating.

Views like Fan's are rarely expressed so baldly in official public forums, but they do reflect worries in Shanghai that the city's goal to become a global financial centre to rival Hong Kong and New York by 2020 took a serious setback in 2015, thanks at least in part to clumsy central intervention by regulators in Beijing.

In the summer of 2015 China's stock indexes - which had exploded upwards over 150 percent in a year - began to correct sharply.

Despite concerns about over-valued shares, the central government ordered financial regulators into action and also formed a "national team" of institutional investors to take extreme measures to head off a further rout.

That culminated in a failed attempt to implement a "circuit breaker" mechanism which lasted only a week and was seen as contributing to the head stock regulator, Xiao Gang, losing his job.

Fan described the circuit breaker, which froze trading when indexes moved 7 percent in either direction, as a "crackpot idea".

At the time, Chinese officials said they were simply doing what any government would do, holding off a panic.

But stock indexes have given up all the brief gains they made, leaving both the national team and the retail investors who followed them under water.

Last year, the stock market crash also led regulators to suppress trading in derivatives, futures and other sophisticated financial products Shanghai had hoped it could specialise in.

Shanghai officials have complained in the past that Beijing's policies have made it more difficult for Shanghai to become a true financial centre.

Beijing has allowed the development of alternative markets in Shenzhen and now a popular over-the-counter growth board in Beijing, which has left the Shanghai bourse overloaded with "old economy" companies in traditional industries.- Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Corporate News , Markets

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