Finance

China’s top securities regulator vows to ‘strictly’ crack down on market manipulators

A securities business hall in Fuyang, China, in December 2023.
Costfoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

BEIJING — China’s top securities regulator vowed to “strictly” crack down on market manipulators, while stating that protecting small investors was a “core task.”

The question of fairness, especially in a market dominated by smaller investors, is our core task, Wu Qing, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at a joint press conference alongside the country’s other top economic and financial planners.

Openness, fairness and justice must be the most important principles in the capital market, Wu added, speaking on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliamentary meetings with other top China economic and financial sector leaders.

“China’s market is large, but it’s not strong,” he said, and emphasized that investors need to be better protected.

Beijing has stepped up measures to support its beleaguered stock markets in the last few weeks. These include tightening regulatory restrictions on its rapidly booming quant trading industry and curbing short selling, changing its top securities regulator and share purchases by a “national team.”

The appointment of markets veteran Wu Qing as chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission in early February preceded the curbs on quant traders.

Wu is known as “Broker Butcher” for his crackdown on traders in his previous roles as acting vice mayor of China’s major financial hub Shanghai and chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The Hang Seng Index, a benchmark of Hong Kong listings that includes many offshore Chinese stocks, is coming off four-straight annual losses, while the CSI300 index of the largest blue chips listed in the mainland has booked losses for three straight years.

With the mainland property market in the doldrums and the stock markets in freefall, desperate mainland investors had looked elsewhere for better returns despite stringent capital controls.

At last year’s parliamentary meeting, Beijing had announced an overhaul of finance and tech regulation by establishing party-led commissions to oversee the two sectors as Xi Jinping gained an unprecedented third term as president.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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