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China response to Evergrande influenced by links to Xi's rivals

Founder Xu's coziness to once-powerful Youth League turns from boon to barrier

Evergrande founder Xu Jiayin was photographed at the Tiananmen gate tower during July's Communist Party anniversary event. (Photo courtesy of China Evergrande Group)

BEIJING -- Before China Evergrande Group's slide into crisis, its founder and chairman Xu Jiayin turned heads with a photo op along the Tiananmen gate tower during the July 1 celebration of the Chinese Communist Party's 100th anniversary.

His ascent to these rarefied heights underscored his connections to heavyweights in the party, which decides whether Chinese companies live or die. Market watchers speculated -- at least for a time -- that debt-laden Evergrande had navigated through the worst of its problems.

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