China, seeking to retain state control in key sectors, has limited plans to sell more than US$200bn in government shareholdings in listed firms, according to state media. The decision to limit sales is also intended to reassure investors who are anxious about a possible torrent of stock. Controlling official shareholders in firms that join the program must propose a minimum stake to be retained by the government, and state regulators must approve the arrangements. The government will retain controlling interests in "pivotal" industries affecting national defense and the economy. Beijing is treading warily through this updated version of a reform because the last time it was tried in 2001 without similar limits panic ensued in the markets.