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Trade war sucks in US-listed Chinese stocks

Murky accounting and at-risk pensions give critics plenty of ammunition

HONG KONG -- The gory details of China's stock market scandals are beloved by the financial media. Who could resist a story in which a company, Kangmei Pharmaceutical, blames an "accounting error" for overstating its cash holdings by as much as $4 billion? And who could stifle a snigger when another Chinese company, China Animal Healthcare, claimed that five years of accounts were lost when a truck carrying them was stolen?

As long as you did not lose money in these scams, they amounted to little more than surprising interludes in the compelling narrative of China investing.

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