The precipitous plunge in Chinese stocks, and Beijing's struggle to halt the fall, has sent waves of panic through the country's 90 million-plus retail investors, who say their life-savings are "falling into an abyss."
At a Citic Securities brokerage in Beijing on Wednesday, the trading hall was packed with retail investors, many of them pensioners, lamenting the loss of the money in the stock market. One investor was watching the big screen between his fingers as if at a horror flick.
The mood was fearful, panicked and sometimes hostile, as investors huddled around computer screens, waiting to see whether the latest moves by Chinese authorities to prop up the stock market would do any good.
"The government has been manipulating the stock market all this time," one investor who didn't want to be named told CNBC. "The authorities made us believe that we can make money from a bull market but actually we are falling into an abyss losing most of our life savings."
Another questioned the government's motives.
"I'm sure if the Chinese Communist Party is really determined to rescue the market, they could turn it around overnight. They haven't used their most powerful tools. Why? There must be disagreement among the leadership."
On Wednesday Beijing eased rules for insurers to invest in blue-chips stocks, raised margin requirements for short positions against small-cap stocks and warned against "irrational selling", among other initiatives.
More than half of listed companies in China's market have now halted trading in their shares, essentially locking up investors' cash in suspended stocks - a big talking point at the trading hall.