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China’s CICC Imposes Gag Order on Analysts: No Bearish Talk or Wealth Flaunting

China International Capital Corp. (CICC), one of the country’s premier banking institutions, has reportedly taken a drastic step to shape its public image amid economic challenges. According to sources in a Bloomberg report, CICC has issued a sweeping ban preventing its analysts from expressing negative sentiments about China’s economy or financial markets. This directive extends to both private and public discourse.

Furthermore, the internal memo sent to CICC’s research department this month also instructs employees to downplay their wealth. It specifically advises against the display of luxury items and sharing details about their compensation.

CICC hasn’t publicly commented on these reports, and inquiries from Business Insider and Bloomberg remained unanswered.

This move isn’t unique to CICC. At least two other Chinese investment banks have reportedly issued similar mandates to their staff, echoing the broader national campaign for “common prosperity.” This campaign has seen government officials directly criticizing the banking sector for “hedonistic” lifestyles, signaling a crackdown on displays of wealth and extravagant living among financial professionals.

The ban on bearish market commentary is seen as a further indication of declining transparency within China’s financial sector, which is grappling with substantial economic difficulties. In a striking move away from openness, China has even ceased publishing its youth unemployment rate, though unofficial estimates suggest it could be alarmingly high, nearing 50%.

In a parallel effort to stabilize the nation’s stock market, the Beijing Stock Exchange has started rejecting requests from investors seeking to sell shares if they hold more than a 5% stake in a company, as per sources cited by Reuters.

China’s economy faces multiple hurdles, from the aftermath of relaxed zero-COVID policies leading to lower-than-anticipated demand and deflation this summer, to addressing the massive debt crisis in its property sector and long-standing demographic challenges.

The actions of CICC and other banks reflect a broader narrative in China’s finance sector. As the country navigates through these turbulent economic waters, the measures taken by financial institutions and the government’s stance on public discourse and personal wealth are shaping the business environment in significant ways.

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