US-Sino tensions help spawn China card game craze

By Yew Lun Tian

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's bankers and business executives have become increasingly reliant on domestic capital in recent years as foreign funding has dried up, but a popular way to unlock that cash may very well involve "throwing eggs".

The term refers to Guandan, a poker-like card game that has been around for decades, but has gained fresh life among venture capitalists a few years ago as they awoke to its popularity among wealthy local government officials in eastern regions.

"Officials like this game, so we play along," said Yang Yiming, an investment banker whose job involves canvassing government funding for projects linked to semiconductors and defence.

The growing interest in business circles has spawned a craze for the game nationwide, driven partly by financial constraints stemming from souring ties with China's biggest trade partner, the United States.

This month U.S. President Joe Biden barred some investment in semiconductors and set controls on other sensitive sectors, aiming to curb trade and funding that could give rival Beijing an edge in technology.