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China censors prominent economist who warned of economic slowdown

Silencing comes amid concerns China’s economy heading for doldrums

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Residents walk their dog past shuttered shops in the Huaqiangbei area, the world's biggest electronics market, in Shenzhen, southern China's G...

Residents walk their dog past shuttered shops in the Huaqiangbei area, the world's biggest electronics market, in Shenzhen, southern China's G... (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Social media platforms in China have silenced prominent market analyst Hong Hao (洪灝), who had been continually warning of an impending slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy in recent weeks.

WeChat froze Hong's account, declaring it had breached the Chinese government's internet rules, without detailing which post had crossed the regulator’s red line, per CNN. Hao’s Weibo account, which had more than 3 million followers, was also taken down and replaced with a message stating the user "no longer exists."

Hong is a managing director and head of research at BOCOM International, the investment arm of China’s state-owned Bank of Communications, one of the country’s largest. Some of his recent posts drew attention to the current surge in capital flight from China accompanied by gloomy forecasts for China’s stock market.

China’s economic health is starting to look shaky. A range of factors are contributing to instability, including Beijing's zero-Covid policy, an ongoing tech crackdown, a sustained slump in the real estate market, and risks stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.

China’s currency recently plunged to its lowest level in over a year. Despite Chinese officials claiming the GDP grew by 4.8% in the first quarter of this year, a mark up from 4% in the final quarter of 2021, independent information gathered by China watchers suggests the economic reality is much worse, with some Western research firms placing the real growth at 2.4%, according to Bloomberg.