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Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in Ufa, Russia.
Reuters/BRICS Photohost
Chinese president Xi Jinping in Ufa, Russia, far and away from the market turmoil at home.

While China’s stock market melts down, investors ask, “Where are our leaders?”

While thousands of Chinese investors lose their savings in China’s plummeting stock markets, the country’s leaders have remained conspicuously silent.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is in Russia to attend a BRICS summit, and premier Li Keqiang has said only that China has the “confidence and ability” to deal with economic risks. Neither have mentioned the fact that Chinese shares have fallen 30% over the past three weeks. Today, Chinese markets opened lower for a third day in a row, with about half of all listed companies shares suspended. By noon the benchmark Shanghai Composite had risen slightly by 0.4%, thanks perhaps to additional stimulus measures rolled out by the central bank and bank regulator.

People's Daily
The People’s Daily on July 9th, showing Xi in Russia.

Investors were already questioning the government’s ability to rescue the market, now they are growing frustrated with top officials’ silence on the subject. ”China is having its biggest stock crash in history, but where are its national leaders?” one investor commented on an online forum, Guba.

Referring to Xi’s oft-touted slogan for giving Chinese citizens more economic opportunities, the blogger wrote, “We were full of hope for this ‘China Dream’ but who will believe in that now?

Others believe that only a statement of support from Xi or other top leaders can soothe panicky investors. “The stock market is in such a plummet. The leaders should take a stand. Only this will restore confidence,” one blogger wrote (link in Chinese) on the online forum Tianya.

Some say that the silence has been intentional. “If they had commented, it would be a sign the problem is really serious. And they could be accused of intervening in the market,” a source close to the Chinese leadership told Reuters. Another added, “If it were a real crisis, Xi would be forced to cancel his trip.”

The biggest danger for the Chinese leadership is that the drop in the stock market destroys the public’s confidence in the government. “If the government doesn’t deal the stock crash well. I’m afraid not only mom and pop investors will lose their hard-earned money, but the government will also lose its credibility and cohesion,” the investor on Guba wrote.

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