Coined in 2002, ‘state advances, private retreats’ is an acerbic expression of dissatisfaction from private entrepreneurs about the unlevel playing field between state and private players. It refers to state-owned enterprises (SOEs) crowding out the private sector, either through expansion of market share or heavy-handed government intervention. SOEs are on the front line of growth stabilisation during economic slowdowns, which often justifies more intensive government support, and SOEs often receive unparalleled state subsidies in financing, land, labour and regulation.