The Chinese social media accounts of Hong Hao, a prominent Hong Kong-based analyst, have been suspended after a series of downbeat commentaries amid the slump in local stock markets, stemming from Covid lockdowns and geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine.
The Weibo and WeChat accounts of Hong, who is head of research at Bocom International, the investment arm of the state-owned Bank of Communications, were blocked on Saturday.
Content on his WeChat account could not be accessed, with the popular messaging app saying his account had violated state internet rules, but no detail or reason was given.
Hong’s account on Weibo, a microblog similar to Twitter, which reportedly had three million followers, also disappeared on Saturday.
Representatives of WeChat and Weibo did not respond immediately to emailed requests for comment on Sunday.
These moves follow posts he made about huge outflows of capital from the country and negative forecasts about China’s sharemarkets.
Bearish comments by market analysts and commentators are often victims of censorship in China and have come under increased scrutiny as the country’s economy and financial markets encounter stiff headwinds in a year in which Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a third term as president.
China’s CSI300 Hit Two-Year Lows
Hong did not respond to a Reuters text seeking comment on the suspensions and a Bocom International representative did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment.
China’s stock market is among the world’s worst performers this year, with the blue-chip CSI300 Index tumbling to two-year lows and the Shanghai Composite Index dropping below the 3,000 mark last week.
Hong had predicted in March that the Shanghai Composite Index might trade below 3,000 points in a worst-case scenario.
The index dropped below that level on April 25, when Beijing again began mass testing residents for Covid-19, though the index rebounded to 3,047 points on Friday after China vowed to stabilise the economy and financial markets.
Hong had also attributed a rout in US-listed Chinese companies to China’s crackdown on technology companies rather than US audit rules, warning of potential capital flight owing to plunging confidence in Chinese stocks.
“Shanghai: zero movement, zero GDP,” he wrote on Twitter on March 31 just as the financial and commercial hub entered a citywide coronavirus lockdown.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard