This paper explores the tension between neoliberal theory and practice by using China as an example. This paper investigates the implementation of Fair Value Accounting (FVA) in China and argues that market share prices are not ‘fair values’ of companies’ financial position as theories of FVA assume, rather, they project only the distorted share price movements caused by the strong intervention of the Chinese government with its multiple and often competing agendas. By positioning this regional event in a broad neoliberal context, this paper argues that the accounting term ‘fair value’ is imbued with assumptions about the state and the market that have little bearing on the realities of a Chinese capital market. The impacts the adoption of FVA has had on Chinese capital markets demonstrate that, rather than advancing the public interest in China, the adoption of FVA has not transformed political and economic power. Instead, it has provided another opportunity to reposition powerful political and economic elites both inside and outside China. The process has reconfigured capital markets in the image of those in advanced capitalist economies, but is devoid of the regulatory and socio-political context apparatus to rationalise its relevance and reliability in the Chinese context.