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As China’s central bank fights to stick with a year-end timetable it set to open up the country’s markets, questions are emerging about whether the creaky financial system, and the people who run it, are up to the task.

Permitting market forces more influence over the exchange rate, a path the People’s Bank of China embarked on this week, is only one step on the road to tearing down the barriers that keep money from flowing across China’s borders.

While President  Xi Jinping himself has promoted the idea of market forces playing a decisive role in China’s economic priorities, the PBOC has...

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