Hiroshi Wanatabe, Japan's former top currency diplomat, recalls how Chinese policymakers eagerly studied ways to avert a Japan-style burst of an asset bubble that led to prolonged deflation and economic stagnation — until around 2015.

"Then they stopped. In the past seven to eight years, they seem to be ignoring everything they learned," said Watanabe, who retains close ties with incumbent policymakers. "Under the Xi (Jinping) administration, China probably shifted its attention away from economics," he said.

Now, China may be paying the price. Inflation is stalling and its deepening real estate crisis was identified as among the biggest risks to global growth during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting being held in Marrakech Oct. 9 through Sunday.