With the wild swings in the country's stock market showing no signs of abating, Beijing's attempt to put a lid on volatility has been ratcheted up a notch, with a senior official at the securities regulator tasked with propping up the stock market being placed under investigation on Wednesday.
Who is he?
Zhang Yujun, the assistant chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), is being probed for "severe violation of discipline," according to a statement by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection late Wednesday.
The online statement by the anti-graft watchdog did not provide further details but according to Reuters, disciplinary violations are often used as a euphemism for corruption.
Zhang, 53, is the first senior official from the securities regulator to be entangled in a government investigation over the country's stock market meltdown. According to his profile page on the CSRC website, he is one of the regulator's three assistant chairmen and previously served as general manager at the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.
Is this part of a broader trend?
Since the painful selloff unfolded in mid-June, Beijing has rolled out an unprecedented slew of policies to curb what authorities call "malicious" trading. Measures include a freeze on initial public offerings, direct share purchases by state entities, considerations of a market-wide ' circuit breaker ' mechanism and the drafting of new rules for commodity exchanges.
In recent months, authorities have intensified its market probe on alleged market manipulation, issuing penalties to stock trading platforms , as well as netting journalists and social media users.
The scrutiny on CSRC's Zhang comes on the back of investigations on the president and two other executives from Citic Securities for insider trading and leaking information . China's largest brokerage house has been in the spotlight since four senior executives from Citic confessed to insider dealing in August, according to state media reports.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) also lowered interest rates and reserve requirement ratios in a bid to bolster sentiment. Still, indexes in Shanghai and Shenzhen continued to succumb to heavy selling pressure, losing over 40 percent since their peaks on June 12.
The anti-graft watchdog on Thursday also urged China's banking regulators to step up on vigilance and "ensure no stone is left unturned" while eliminating illegal activities.
"Handle in accordance with the rules problems of breaches of discipline and the law," a Reuters report cited the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as saying. "Ensure no stone is left unturned."
Is the clampdown working?
Analysts remain divided on whether this broad array of steps taken to mitigate volatility will halt the slide in shares.
"In the beginning of this year, [China] came out with great reforms but since then they've gone backwards like a drunken spider wandering across the page, in various directions that are contradictory," David Roche, president and global strategist at Independent Strategy, told CNBC Asia's " Squawk Box " on Wednesday.
"They like it when the markets are going 'yay yay yay' but now the markets are going 'nay nay nay' so you lock up a few fund managers and you criminalize normal portfolio behavior and you shut down the market," Roche added.
IG's market strategist Bernard Aw agreed: "I'm not sure if domestic investors believe that will help sentiment. International investors are also not convinced that [short sellers] are the reason for the sharp drop in June and 'Black Monday.' So I don't think [these investigations] will have a big impact on boosting confidence."
Indeed, China's once world-beating stock markets are drawing fewer new entrants since the onset of extreme turbulence. The number of investors opening new accounts in the week ended September 11 stood at 296,300, up 0.5 percent from a week earlier but down nearly 16 percent from the last week of August, according to Xinhua news agency.