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A security guard walks into a construction site in downtown Shanghai March 13, 2014. China's real estate investment slowed in the first two months of 2014 while sales dropped from a year earlier, official data showed on Thursday, the latest signs of cooling in the property market as the broader economy as slows.
A security guard walks into a construction site in downtown Shanghai March 13, 2014. China's real estate investment slowed in the first two months of 2014 while sales dropped from a year earlier, official data showed on Thursday, the latest signs of cooling in the property market as the broader economy as slows.
(Aly Song/Reuters)

On market reform, China can’t have it both ways

China’s leaders cling to the belief that they can engineer a soft economic landing. They’ll just gently let the air out of urban property bubbles and fix what ails the overheated credit market with financial reforms, limited bond defaults and a fresh clampdown on shady lending practices.

Their aim is to keep everything as controlled and orderly as possible while ensuring the economy can still create enough new jobs to keep social unrest from worsening. But the messy antics of free-market capitalism keep getting in the way.