Fierce attacks on the 'crocodiles' and 'sharks' like George Soros, harsh digs at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and lavish praise for the Hong Kong and Malaysian Governments have been filling the mainland media in recent days. The People's Daily, rejoicing at how the Hong Kong authorities had 'destroyed the speculators' dreams of easy money', said: 'The seven timely measures announced by the Hong Kong Government can be compared to an anti-shark net.' Mainland officials are always loath to comment on Hong Kong affairs but the People's Daily was not shy in predicting all these measures would only boost the market and confidence of Hong Kong. The China Securities newspaper has also hailed what it portrayed as the triumphant victory of the SAR in what it called 'The August War' against international speculators. 'We sadly find that Adam Smith's invisible hand cannot guarantee stable financial markets, but rather encourages speculative attacks on currency and stock markets,' the paper lamented. 'Only when those speculators who don't respect the rules of the free market pay the price will people enjoy real freedom. This is the important lesson people learn from the series of financial crises.' The paper went on to reject the argument that speculators could serve a purpose, saying it was not true that when sterling was forced out of the European Monetary System, it helped the British economy grow. Friday's Workers Daily called on readers to be on the alert against what it called more 'international financial terror' and blamed two major hedge funds - that is, 'financial crocodiles' - for causing the collapse of Hong Kong's stock market. The Workers Daily went on to name Mr Soros as being responsible for a series of 'financial tragedies' which had struck first Britain, Thailand, then Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. 'He destroyed much of the wealth accumulated in decades,' the paper said. 'His speculative funds are like floods and wild beasts. Southeast Asian countries suffered, Russia is suffering and Latin America is his next target.' China Daily was not so openly aggressive but instead carried two letters. One, allegedly from an Australian reader, accused Jews of having too much influence in the United States and said it was not surprising that Muslims like Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad should blame Mr Soros 'for undermining their currencies by speculation and impoverishing 100 million people'. The Workers Daily claimed the speculators who lost in Hong Kong went on to attack Russia and push it to the brink of the collapse. Most commentaries accused Western powers of being the real culprits behind the financial crisis, with some saying they were the biggest beneficiaries of the 'financial terror' and had imposed harsh terms in order to spread their values. However, in a sign that a real debate was going on within the Communist Party, a commentator in Friday's Guangming Daily argued it was wrong to jump to the conclusion that these financial crises were caused by George Soros. Commentator Liu Shibai said: 'The defects of the financial and stock markets of Southeast Asia are the main reason behind the crisis. Insufficient regulations by central banks have encouraged a blind expansion of credit.' The lessons for the mainland were that domestic banks were not imposing self-control because they were not responsible for their own losses. 'During credit expansion they issue loans in a wanton way and are saddled with bad debts,' it said. Mr Liu said government control was important but industrial intervention was often flawed. Yet the strongest words in the press were reserved for the IMF, which was attacked for imposing ruinous policies and conditions. The China Economic Times said the IMF and World Bank were like the boss of a casino who lent to a gambler so he could lose still more money. Calling for tighter foreign exchange controls, Chen Bingcai wrote: 'The IMF lends you money, but it demands that you open up your financial markets to speculation.' Judging from commentaries aired by the media, the mainland government has also been using the Russian crisis to demonstrate that it had pursued the right course of policies. The prevailing message was that slow reform was better than relying on the ill-judged advice and uncertain charity of Western countries. 'Western countries refused to provide enough financial aid to Russia, just US$2 billion a year, far less than the Marshall Plan after World War II,' a commentary broadcast on radio said. 'But they gave strong support to extremist reformers and isolated the nationalists who oppose copying western ways.' The China Economic Times talked not just about competing policy mixes but in terms of conflict between civilisations and a battle which pitched the forces of globalisation against those of national sovereignty.