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Property market woes focus fiscal power in Beijing

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” an aphorism ascribed to Winston Churchill, might be the watchword for China’s Communist Party as it prepares to select a new round of leaders at its 20th Congress in November.

A piece of political theater that might have come out of imperial annals of the first millennium BCE illustrates deep changes at work in China’s power structure.

Four rural banks in China’s Henan province stopped paying out deposits in May, prompting hundreds of angry local residents to demonstrate in front of the bank’s offices. On Monday, white-shirted men showing no official identification attacked the demonstrators, and videos of the incident went viral on Chinese social media. But on July 12 China’s banking regulators announced that depositors would be paid starting July 15.

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