You don’t relate art to a sluggish economy or just because China clamps down on illicit cash. Since when has collectors ever refuse good art even when there is a sluggish economy? To be exacting, since when has cash rich art collectors ever been affected by poor economy? The reason for a poor performing auction is attributed to the unavailability of good works or the inability of the curator or auctioneer to smell market demand. The more those who deals in illicit cash comes to the forefront of the auction market and does a buying frenzy, the least the Chinese government will suspect them. They all know it. Chinese are smart people. Competitors try to deflate the confidence of the Chinese market for few reasons but one unobvious reason is that they fear most good artworks will all land into the hands of the Chinese one day.
The righteous refuse to be leaders. They prefer to shout from the base. And then grumble when things go wrong. They thought they were born to take care of their own interest while others are responsible for the shit they are facing. This is the state we are in.