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Chinese stock investors vent on US Embassy Weibo account

[SINGAPORE] Chinese investors flooded a social media account of the US embassy in Beijing with complaints about stock losses after the country's equities suffered their steepest weekly plunge in two years.

The embassy said Monday its Sina Weibo account received more than 10,000 comments about the Chinese stock market. It deleted several comments that violated its terms of use, but didn't turn off the comments section for any post, the embassy said in a statement.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission had prevented people from remarking on its own Weibo account last week. Some of the most popular comments contained expletives directed at Liu Shiyu, who took over as chairman of the securities regulator in February 2016 in the wake of a US$5 trillion rout and drove volatility to the lowest in decades.

The online uproar followed the Shanghai Composite Index's 9.6 per cent tumble last week, the most since January 2016, amid a global selloff. The stocks benchmark rose 0.8 per cent on Monday as turnover slumped before the start of Lunar New Year holidays.

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"Mr Ambassador, is Liu Shiyu your undercover agent in the Chinese government? This guy succeeded in pushing hundreds of millions of Chinese investors to the opposite side of the Communist Party and government," one anonymous user said on the US embassy account.

Some of those commenting on the embassy's account blamed the US for spurring the stock declines, while others criticised the CSRC for not intervening, saying they would have a bad time during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday due to their losses.

The CSRC didn't respond to requests for comment.

The comments quickly spread on Weibo, where the CSRC has nearly 5 million followers and the embassy has 1.3 million followers. Mainland investors also complained on the Weibo accounts of other diplomatic missions in Beijing, including the Japanese and British embassies.

Public criticism of senior officials is generally forbidden in China, and official media have published commentaries to ease concern about market losses. The party's People's Daily said on Thursday the Chinese stock market may fluctuate in the short term due to what's happening on Wall Street, but the impact is not expected to continue in the medium term.

BLOOMBERG

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