Chinese Financiers Embrace Local Card Game Guandan Amid US Investment Curbs

Chinese financiers are turning to the local card game Guandan to woo clients and raise funds domestically amid US investment restrictions. Guandan's popularity has spread beyond the financial industry, with an estimated 140 million players nationwide.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Chinese Financiers Embrace Local Card Game Guandan Amid US Investment Curbs

Chinese Financiers Embrace Local Card Game Guandan Amid US Investment Curbs

In the wake of US President Joe Biden's 2023 executive order restricting US investment in China's strategic sectors, Chinese financiers are turning to the local card game throwing, eggs to woo clients and raise funds domestically. The poker-like game, originating from Jiangsu province, has eclipsed Texas Hold'em in popularity and become a must-have social skill for financial professionals.

Why this matters: The shift towards Guandan highlights the growing importance of domestic networking and relationship-building in China's financial industry, as the country navigates the impact of US investment restrictions. This trend may have long-term implications for the way business is conducted in China, with potential consequences for global economic relationships.

President Biden's executive order in August 2023 targeted key industries such as AI, quantum computing, and semiconductors, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expecting implementing rules to be finalized by year-end. China has struggled economically since emerging from pandemic isolation, with foreign investment hitting a 30-year low of $33 billion in 2023.

Over 20 million people in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces regularly play Guandan, also known as "throwing eggs," according to the National Business Daily. The Guandan Card Association, led by billionaire Qi Shi, is actively promoting the game in Shanghai. Guandan's ease of learning, short playing time, and non-betting nature make it an attractive option during China's crackdown on illegal gambling.

Financiers believe mastering Guandan can help them raise funds and forge stronger relationships with local government officials and clients. The game's team-based format lends itself to building partnerships, while its conversational nature facilitates networking. "To raise funds, investment institutions have to serve those who have money and cater to their preferences. It is natural to play this local card game as a social activity," said Chris You, an associate at a US-based venture capital firm in Beijing.

Guandan's popularity has spread beyond the financial industry, with an estimated 140 million players nationwide. Students in Hubei province were even required to learn the game during their winter vacation to cultivate intellectual ability and teamwork skills. Finance professionals are now organizing Guandan gatherings across industries in major cities.

"The tensions between the U.S. and China definitely would affect China's economy in general. So I think it is better to follow the trend and learn more ways for our financiers to network no matter what company we are working for," said Amice Wang, a finance professional in Beijing. As Chinese financiers adapt to the shifting geopolitical landscape, Guandan has emerged as a valuable tool for building domestic business relationships and navigating the challenges posed by US investment restrictions.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese financiers turn to local card game Guandan to woo clients and raise funds domestically.
  • Guandan's popularity eclipses Texas Hold'em, becoming a must-have social skill for financial professionals.
  • US investment restrictions drive shift towards domestic networking and relationship-building in China's finance industry.
  • Guandan's team-based format and conversational nature facilitate partnerships and networking.
  • Guandan's popularity spreads beyond finance, with 140 million players nationwide, and is seen as a valuable tool for building business relationships.