What's going on with China's stocks? Your questions answered

Chinese markets: More ups & downs than a roller coaster
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Hong Kong (CNN)It's been a tumultuous three weeks for China's stock market -- $3 trillion wiped off the value of shares, stocks down 30% in those three weeks, wild swings, panic.

CNN's Andrew Stevens
Why did it happen, and how might it affect the world?
We invited you to pose questions like these on Facebook to our Asia Pacific Editor Andrew Stevens, who has been reporting on this story closely.
    Here's what you wanted to know.

    What happened?

    "China equities were a bubble and all bubbles eventually lose air," explained Andrew Stevens.
    "One trigger appears to be the government failing to unveil widely expected additional measures to support the market (in this case bank lending requirements).
    What caused China's market crash?
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    "The slump pretty much took on a life of its own as retail investors stampeded to get out, both to cash in on earlier gains and to raise cash to meet margin calls."
    But why the wild swings? Stevens said it boils down to two opposing forces at work.
    "Retail investors want out and Beijing is doing more and more to stop that happening. They are buying stocks and banning some selling.
    "And companies themselves are taking themselves out of the firing line by suspending their shares from trading.
    "Put all that together and you get this extreme volatility. 12% swings in a day. Extraordinary, even for China."

    How could this affect the world?

    Many of our international readers were understandably concerned about how China's stock market swings could affect the world.
    Our Asia Pacific Editor's answer: As long as you aren't a Chinese investor facing a big margin, you are okay.
    Whether the slump could affect other countries in the future depends on whether Beijing can get things under control.
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    Of course, another big leg down from here would hurt confidence and spending in China.
    But, he said, China's market would have to lose a lot more steam before we see a meaningful knock-on effect.
    Things shouldn't hurt European markets much either, where the performance of markets has been much more positive than in China.
    IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard told CNN's Richard Quest Thursday that what was happening in China was a "sideshow."
    Which, as Stevens noted, "shows that there is no real fear about China economy tanking as a result of market rout.
    "Remember, some Chinese investors are still sitting on profits after a 160% jump in Shanghai stocks in the year to June 12."

    How is China reacting?

    While the stock market crash hasn't been good news for China's economy, it hardly means the economy's finished.
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    One reason being the Chinese government is determined to make sure the slump won't get any worse.
    "Remember, this is still an economy that can be controlled by Beijing and they have an awful lot of financial firepower if they need it," says Stevens.
    And since stocks only make up a small fraction of Chinese households' wealth, the crisis is "pretty much still confined to the stock market in China with no real spillover to the broader Chinese economy."
    But for the average affected Chinese stockholder, Stevens remarked, "I'd be crying a little if I were holding stock, especially if it was suspended and I needed the cash!"

    Can I get rich from this?

    As one reader asked, could the market go much lower, and could the stock slump create incredible buying opportunities?
    "Personally I don't see it going a lot lower, certainly not in the way it has been -- panic in the market," said Stevens.
    "There would be some buying opportunities for sure. But most analysts will tell you that China should be a long-term investment, so you will probably take a few hits along the way."
    And as for whether there's a "lucky stock" to make a quick yuan?
    "Let me know if you find one," said Stevens.