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China education companies had advance notice of rule changes

Shares of listed players hammered after government lays out new policies

Chinese officials held multiple rounds of talks with top private education companies to discuss the industry's future before announcing sweeping new regulations last week that are set to transform the sector, Caixin has learned.

The meetings indicate that the companies were bracing for impact weeks before Friday's announcement, which roiled a sector that employs millions of people and torched the share prices of major players, including New York-listed TAL Education, New Oriental Education & Technology and Gaotu Techedu.

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