Chinese bankers have been told not to show off their wealth as the country’s economy loses momentum despite government stimulus.
China International Capital Corporation (CICC), one of the country’s largest banks, urged staff to avoid wearing luxury brands or revealing how much they earn.
The message was relayed in an internal memo seen by Bloomberg, which also warned them against talking down the economy in either public or private conversations.
This comes after Chinese authorities criticised bankers’ “lavish” lifestyles” earlier this year.
There has been heightened scrutiny of financial institutions after president Xi Jinping’s government scaled back the public availability of economic statistics.
This includes age-specific unemployment data, which the National Bureau of Statistics stopped publishing over the summer after youth unemployment hit a record high.
However, figures continue to be released for China’s manufacturing sector, which shrank for the second month in a row in November.
Analysts warned that businesses may have lost confidence in Beijing’s policymakers as activity slumped despite a series of stimulus packages.
China’s manufacturing index fell from 49.5 to 49.4 in November, according to an official survey of factory bosses. This was the lowest reading since July and fell short of the consensus expectation of 49.8.
Dan Wang, chief economist at Hang Seng Bank China, warned that data could show “a loss of confidence in government policy”.
China’s economy is grappling with a property downturn, which began with the collapse of real estate giant Evergrande at the end of 2021.
In October, China announced plans to issue 1 trillion yuan ( £110bn) in sovereign bonds by the end of 2023 and raised its budget deficit target from 3pc of gross domestic product (GDP) to 3.8pc.
The government said this package would help to pivot the economy away from property and infrastructure and towards sectors such as manufacturing and renewable energy.
But the latest manufacturing data revealed new export orders fell for the ninth month in a row as high interest rates in the US and Europe squeezed demand from overseas.