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China Loses All Control: Arrests Journalist, Financial Executive Over Market Crash

For two months, China has been on a quest to control both the stock market itself and the narrative around the stock market. 

After an unwind in the CNY1 trillion back alley margin lending complex sparked a late June selloff, China cobbled together a plunge protection team run by China Securities Finance (an arm of CSRC) and began intervening in the market.

That effort has cost an estimated CNY900 billion so far.

On July 20, Caijing magazine suggested that CSF was setting up to scale back the market interventions which many believed had kept the SHCOMP from collapsing altogether. Here's what happened next:

That suggestion caused futures to slide in China and in short order, the "rumor" was denied by CSRC. Now, the reporter who penned that story has been arrested for, as Bloomberg put it earlier today, "spreading fake stock and futures trading information."

BREAKING: China's well-respected Caijing magazine confirmed 1 of its reporters was arrested by police for a stock market story denied by Gov

— George Chen (@george_chen)

This comes on the heels of a move by Beijing earlier this week to suppress discussion of Monday's market rout, which, along with the selloffs it triggered in bourses across the globe, was dubbed "Black Monday."

Of course this isn't the first time - and it probably won't be the last - that China has cracked down on the media for "subversive" coverage of financial markets. Early last month, Beijing reportedly banned the use of the phrases "equity disaster" and "rescue the market." That said, throwing reporters in jail marks a new escalation in the war on financial reporters, or, as the managing editor of The South China Morning Post put it, "you already know it's risky to be political journalists in China - Now financial reporter is risky job too."

But reporters weren’t the only ones getting arrested in China overnight in connection with the country’s stock market collapse. As we tipped on Tuesday evening, China has also arrested CITIC Securities Managing Director Xu Gang.

Citic in China is like Goldman on Wall St. Can u imagine if NYPD arrested a top banker from Goldman's NY office? Chinese Police just did so!

— George Chen (@george_chen)

Here’s his profile, via Bloomberg:

Mr. Gang Xu serves as the Managing Director at CITIC Securities Company Limited. Mr. XU serves as Chairman of the brokerage development at CITIC Securities Co., and head of the research department with responsibility for brokerage business as well as research. Mr. Xu joined CITIC Group in 1998 and served as Senior Manager, Deputy General Manager and Executive Director in departments such as the asset management department, the financial products development team, the research department and the equity sales and trading department. Mr. Xu serves as Vice Chairman of Analysis Commission of SAC. Mr. Xu serves as Director of CITIC Wantong Securities Co., Ltd. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Planned Economics in 1991 from Renmin University of China, a Master's Degree in Economics in 1996, and a Ph.D. in Political Economics in 2000 from Nankai University.

 


And some context on CITIC's market share:

 


Details around the arrest are sparse, with Caixain saying only that the investigation revolves around "illegal trading," and indeed, it's certainly possible that Beijing is simply out to send a message by arresting a high profile investment banker for no reason at all. 

That said, it's worth noting that earlier this month, CITIC suspended its short selling business in an effort to "comply with urgent changes in exchange rules." 

So perhaps Mr. Gang Xu failed to fully "comply", in the process becoming no better than a sinister foreign short-selling speculator.

"I shorted" pic.twitter.com/Q3FzGh7gVC

— zerohedge (@zerohedge)

Or perhaps it's much simpler than that. Perhaps he just sold something.

And while US regulators aren't big on throwing powerful bankers in jail, when it comes to censoring the media for spreading "false information" about markets and those who control them, America isn't much better than China: