A Chinese company broke ground this week on the world’s tallest skyscraper only to stumble at the first hurdle when the government halted the project, saying building permission hadn’t been obtained.

The wild ambitions of Broad Group, which wanted to complete the skyscraper in less than a year, and the administrative edict blocking it make for a good story in their own right. But they also serve as a parable about the distorted development of the Chinese economy. 

Where's the .5?

Has China just cut its 2013 growth target?

That is the question being asked today after Lou Jiwei, the finance minister, said in unscripted comments that China was aiming for a 7 per cent GDP expansion this year, down from the 7.5 per cent goal set during the national parliament in March. 

For wealthy Chinese tired of putting their money in stocks, art and Pu’er tea, a new investment opportunity awaits: a real live racing car driver.

Asia Bankers Club will be introducing a young Formula One hopeful to dozens of financiers in Hong Kong next week, pitching him as a new “asset class” for investors looking for more diversified, not to mention fun, portfolios. 

The $4.7bn offered by Chinese meat processor Shuanghui International for Smithfield Foods has been touted as the biggest-ever Chinese acquisition of a US company.

But what if the deal is something else entirely? To one observer, it looks like a leveraged buyout led by private equity groups and funnelled through a shell company with only tenuous connections to China. Is he right? 

China Development Bank is one of the world’s largest but least understood financial institutions. Riddled by debt 15 years ago, CDB has now comfortably surpassed the World Bank as the biggest international lender to developing countries.

And that only begins to tell the story about CDB. Overseas development lending is a small part of its overall business, with most of its Rmb7.5tn ($1.2tn) in assets focused on catalysing China’s own growth. 

China’s property market is suddenly looking a whole lot hotter.

A new housing index covers more cities than any other available gauge, reaching into many of the smaller towns where development has been most frenetic. And lo and behold it has produced a striking conclusion: that property prices are rising twice as fast as official data suggests. 

When the White House created a petitioning website in 2011, it surely didn’t count on Barack Obama being asked to invade China, rule on the flavour of tofu and investigate a two-decade old Chinese poisoning case.

But that is exactly what has happened over the past week as Chinese people, motivated variously by a sense of justice, powerlessness or just plain humour, have flooded the White House “We the People” website

When Wang Qishan (left) was made head of the Communist party’s anti-corruption agency, it was expected that he would put his tough-guy reputation to work in taking down high-ranking officials.

Nearly two months into the job, Wang has signed his first publicly reported investigation orders. Contrary to expectations, the targets are not big fish. Instead, they are a series of little-known bond traders. What explains Wang’s focus? 

China’s capital markets have a most placid surface. Domestic bonds have never experienced a default and equities have traded in a narrow range for more than a year.

But still waters run deep. Events of the past week have exposed the strains, turmoil and alleged crimes seething beneath the calm. 

Chinese sportswear company Qiaodan has long been seen as a copycat for its use of a name and imagery connected to basketball legend Michael Jordan. But in the domain of trademark law, it is nothing if not original in an increasingly bitter fight with Jordan. 

Meet the world’s newest would-be mining giant: the Ganzhou Rare Earth Group.

It has yet to make any sales, but if all goes according to plan for government officials in China’s poor southern province of Jiangxi, it could control about a third of the world’s supply of rare earths, elements which are crucial in the manufacture of electronics. 

In the pantheon of financial news, China’s decision to open its interbank bond market to foreign investors may seem a small item. But the announcement, made on Wednesday, is a big one for two reasons.

First, it gives foreign institutions access to a major asset class. Second, its timing signifies that China’s financial reform train is still very much in motion just a few days after the dust finally settled on the country’s leadership reshuffle. 

The advance of the shadows in China’s banking system has slowed dramatically in recent weeks. The slowdown might simply be a seasonal blip, but it could be a more fundamental turning point for the country’s financial sector.

Regulators have been turning the screws on some of the dodgiest practices in shadow banking at the same time as customers have grown more aware of the risks. These twin developments won’t spell the end of Chinese shadow banking – but they could well spell the end of its torrid rise. 

Most of the media coverage of China’s parliament, which opened on Tuesday, has been forward-looking, and understandably so. Wen Jiabao, the outgoing premier, laid out growth, inflation and budget targets for 2013.

But perhaps the most striking section in his annual report to the National People’s Congress was his review of the country’s economic accomplishments over the past five years. At the very time that much of the world was experiencing a lost half decade, China found spectacular growth. 

Football leagues around the globe draw heavily on foreign imports as both players and coaches. But as ambassadors?

In China, where the sport is struggling to escape the taint of match fixing and bribery scandals, the masters of the football world have decided that their best representative is someone who has never played in the country’s league: David Beckham.