What Happened on the Shanghai Stock Exchange?

China experienced a bizarre numerological happening this week. The Shanghai Composite Index started yesterday morning at 2346.98, which, when read from right to left, shares an uncanny similarity to yesterday’s highly sensitive anniversary: twenty-three years since the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, an event known in Chinese as “six-four.” Just a coincidence? Six hours later, the numbers struck again: the market closed the day down 64.89 points. The reaction was instantaneous: Chinese online comments tended toward the cosmological (“Maybe God does exist?” someone wrote), but the government was not amused, and it raced to censor microblog discussion, blocking references to “Shanghai Composite Index” and the offending digits. (Censors also blocked “candle,” “tank,” “never forget,” and scores of other terms.)

Business, Politics, Society