(Bloomberg) -- Moody’s Investors Service advised its staff in China to work from home ahead of its announcement this week cutting the outlook for sovereign bonds to negative in the world’s second largest economy, the Financial Times reported. 

Department heads advised non-administrative staff in Beijing and Shanghai not go into the office, the paper reported, citing two Moody’s employees. One of employees said the move was likely motivated by fear of government inspections following the rating company’s outlook cut, according to the FT.

The same staffer said Moody’s told analysts in Hong Kong to temporarily avoid travel to the mainland ahead of the announcement, the paper reported. Moody’s on Tuesday had lowered its outlook to negative from stable while retaining a long-term rating of A1 on the nation’s sovereign bonds.

Moody’s declined to comment on any internal discussions, saying “our commitment to maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of the ratings process is paramount.”

China this week sought to contain any hit to investor sentiment after Moody’s issued the bearish credit outlook. The central bank raised its support for the yuan a notch and state media published a handful of articles citing experts who denounced the rating company’s understanding of China’s economy. 

The Moody’s announcement has put a spotlight on China’s debt issues. While the agency retained a long-term rating, it cited the usage of fiscal stimulus to support debt-laden local governments and the spiraling property downturn as risks. 

Foreign companies operating in China have complained about sporadic crackdowns that hurt business sentiment. The authorities in August fined American due diligence firm Mintz Group around $1.5 million for illegal data collection, months after officials raided its Beijing offices and detained five of its Chinese employees.

In April, US consultancy Bain & Co. said Chinese authorities had questioned staff at its Shanghai office. Security officials also publicized a raid at Capvision, a consulting firm with headquarters in New York and Shanghai, accusing the company of abetting espionage efforts by foreign entities.

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