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China Hidden Debt Risks Flare as Trading Halt Fuels Worries

A chemical maker in the eastern province of Shandong had trading of its bonds suspended amid uncertainty over its operating performance. That triggered a slump in the dollar bonds of a neighbouring company that had guaranteed the other’s debt.

China’s privately held firms have relied on extending such guarantees for each other to entice banks, which otherwise prefer lending to state-owned firms, to offer them loans. It’s not the first time that the practice has had a domino effect. In March, concerns about such intertwined obligations, which are excluded from balance sheets, in the same province of Shandong caused a selloff of the region’s local corporate notes.

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