Sometimes it can be easy to believe that China is the land where all is forbidden and everything is possible. But on occasion one can push a little too far, dear readers—as demonstrated amply by the plethora of punitive action witnessed this week.
Take, for example, China’s securities regulator, which recently saw its chief finally ousted following a months-long period packed with increasingly shambolic attempts to prop up the mainland’s stock markets. Though we wonder how long the new guy will last given that Shanghai’s benchmark index fell nearly 6% Thursday.
Even the most vaunted of policymakers aren’t invulnerable, as the state council found out this week after announcing an impromptu end to gated housing communities nationwide. The ever-more entitled middle-class masses were of course having none of that, gathering a host of legal experts to fight back in the media. But we think the real victims would be the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of largely ornamental gateway guards who’d be out of a job if the new rules went through.
And even size proved no saving grace as the region’s mega-banks suffered blow back from their business practices: Standard Chartered saw its China dependence blow up in its face with the first annual loss in nearly three decades, and HSBC found itself under investigation by the SEC for hiring practices in the region.
Still, it’s not as if the threat of disastrous consequences now looms so large as to actually stop much of anyone from not doing something they shouldn’t. China’s investors are still piling trillions into its burgeoning trust industry; corporate debt rose to 160% of China’s GDP last year; and even revelations about data leaks sprung by Baidu’s browser seemed to have little impact on share prices in New York, which leaped after the search giant released its Q4 earnings.
But be warned, dear readers. With a party as capricious and opaque as the one in Beijing, today’s “yes” could prove tomorrow’s “no”. Just ask the chairman of Fude Insurance—though you might have to wait a while, what with his having been detained.