How Beijing responds to the August rampage at the new stock exchange in the coastal district of Shenzhen will be a key signal of how fast China will pursue further economic reforms. The riots, which erupted after 300,000 Chinese streamed to Shenzhen in an attempt to buy 500,000 shares of newly issued stock, come at a time when top party elders are locked in a fierce internal battle over the economy. Communist hard-liners are expected to seize on the turmoil as proof that Deng Xiaoping's push for rapid economic growth is leading to instability. Reformers argue Beijing must greatly expand the availability of stock to meet demand so that market forces, not speculation, will determine prices. If Beijing halts new issues, other reforms could be scaled back as well.

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