China is pressuring economists and journalists to offer optimistic views on the economy

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Fresh from targeting journalists and analysts who were not spruiking the virtues of stock market investing during last year’s market rout, Chinese authorities are now said to be pressuring economists, analysts and business reporters against gloomy commentary on China’s economy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed officials and commentators familiar with the crackdown, government officials have issued verbal warnings to commentators whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with the government’s upbeat statements.

The government is said to be preaching “zhengnengliang,” or “positive energy”, according to the Journal, an attempt to quash concerns about the outlook for the slowing, and increasingly indebted, Chinese economy.

Here’s the Journal with just one example.

Lin Caiyi, chief economist at Guotai Junan Securities Co. who has been outspoken about rising corporate debt, a glut of housing and the weakening Chinese currency, received a warning in recent weeks, officials and commentators said. It was her second.

The first came from the securities regulator, and the later one, these people said, from her state-owned firm’s compliance department, which instructed her to avoid making overly bearish remarks about the economy, particularly the currency.

It’s not only economists who have been targeted, with the pressure said to be coming from the top of China’s Politburo.

The Journal reports that following a visit from Chinese president Xi Jinping earlier this year, journalists at Xinhua, the People’s Daily and China Central Television — influential media outlets and well known mouthpieces for the government — resulted in pressure to produce positive stories about the economy.

Reporters covering the country’s stock markets, for example, weere told to focus their reports largely on the official statements issued by the CSRC, the nation’s stock market regulator, the Journal said citing Chinese journalists.

Xi had reportedly told the organisations to “tell China’s stories well”.

Here’s the link to the Journal’s excellent story.

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