Motilal Oswal
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Motilal Oswal
Economy

China's slowing economy - the view from the Henan heartland

Updated : 2019-05-17 10:29:39

Considered the cradle of Chinese civilization, the central province of Henan and its 100 million-strong population typifies China's transformative yet often tumultuous economic ascent. Long the sort of impoverished backwater that people left in search of better lives, Henan has in recent years enjoyed the fruits of an economic boom that has raised incomes and given people a taste of middle-class lifestyles and aspirations. Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, was transformed into a transportation and logistics hub complete with a futuristic skyline and luxury malls, crisscrossed with freeways and connected by high-speed rail to more affluent cities like Beijing and Shanghai. A vast Foxconn factory in the city employs almost a quarter of a million people and churns out most of the world's iPhones. However, the gains achieved in Henan and other inland provinces appear fragile, as living and housing costs rise, and China's economy slows. That is threatening the aspirations of a generation of young Chinese in cities like Zhengzhou. (Click https://reut.rs/30ntrk1 to see a picture package of Henan.) The slowdown also undermines one of the government's main hopes for transforming the economy by spurring domestic spending, as well as spreading the wealth to the interior of China, which has long lagged the coastal regions that gave birth to China's four-decades-long economic boom. Reuters reporters travelled to six cities across Henan, from bustling Zhengzhou to the smog-choked industrial hub of Anyang in the north, interviewing dozens of residents from all walks to life to document how the economic slowdown feels in the heart of China. This series tackles some of the crucial issues facing Henan, and the broader Chinese economy: a property boom that appears to be coming to an end; a slump in consumer spending; an anti-pollution campaign that has had a crippling economic impact on many cities and towns, even as their people are breathing more easily; and the undermining of dreams of upward social mobility.

A woman and a child ride an electric tricycle in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A woman and a child ride an electric tricycle in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals and retired workers watch a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside its factory to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals and retired workers watch a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside its factory to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Fisherman Sun Lianxi, 32, stands in a boat as he drops his net into the waters of the Yellow River on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Fisherman Sun Lianxi, 32, stands in a boat as he drops his net into the waters of the Yellow River on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Jiejie Li, the wife of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi, prepares food on a wood stove in their makeshift dwelling at the Yellow River embankment of on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Jiejie Li, the wife of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi, prepares food on a wood stove in their makeshift dwelling at the Yellow River embankment of on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The son of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi walks among the debris of their former housing, which they say the government tore down because of lacking building permission, at the Yellow River embankment on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The son of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi walks among the debris of their former housing, which they say the government tore down because of lacking building permission, at the Yellow River embankment on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Fishermen Sun Lianxi, 32, and Sun Genxi, 44, travel down the Yellow River to cast their net on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Fishermen Sun Lianxi, 32, and Sun Genxi, 44, travel down the Yellow River to cast their net on the northern outskirts of Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
High-rises surround a kindergarten in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
High-rises surround a kindergarten in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A retired worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A retired worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high-speed railway station in the new business district of Zhengzhou, Henan province China, February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high-speed railway station in the new business district of Zhengzhou, Henan province China, February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man waits at a bus stop at a high-speed railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan province China January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man waits at a bus stop at a high-speed railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan province China January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A woman walks outside a high-speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A woman walks outside a high-speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People leave the high-speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People leave the high-speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high-speed railway station in the new business district of Zhengzhou, Henan province China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high-speed railway station in the new business district of Zhengzhou, Henan province China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen in front of the Xinyuan Steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen in front of the Xinyuan Steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Interior designer Zhang Chenxuan, who has run an interior design business in Zhengzhou for seven years, poses in an apartment his company is fitting out in a high-rise in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Interior designer Zhang Chenxuan, who has run an interior design business in Zhengzhou for seven years, poses in an apartment his company is fitting out in a high-rise in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Workers eat lunch near the construction site of apartment buildings near the new stadium in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Workers eat lunch near the construction site of apartment buildings near the new stadium in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Men ride a scooter past a poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping on the side of a school building in a newly developed part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Men ride a scooter past a poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping on the side of a school building in a newly developed part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on his make-up before playing a show to locals and former employees of Xinyuan Steel in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on his make-up before playing a show to locals and former employees of Xinyuan Steel in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on her make-up before playing a show to locals and former employees of Xinyuan Steel in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on her make-up before playing a show to locals and former employees of Xinyuan Steel in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Men rest in front of a center commemorating the local party secretary Jiao Yulu in a rural part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Men rest in front of a center commemorating the local party secretary Jiao Yulu in a rural part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A worker cleans a pond in a park in front of a local government building in a newly developed part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A worker cleans a pond in a park in front of a local government building in a newly developed part of Lankao County, Henan province, China February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Smokestacks and cooling towers of a power plant rise above a low-rise neighborhood that borders a steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Smokestacks and cooling towers of a power plant rise above a low-rise neighborhood that borders a steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Women in graduation dresses take pictures in front of Buddha statues at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Women in graduation dresses take pictures in front of Buddha statues at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People play with ice floating at a pond in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People play with ice floating at a pond in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A driver of a tourist shuttle wears a hat with a red star as she poses for pictures at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A driver of a tourist shuttle wears a hat with a red star as she poses for pictures at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals and retired workers leave after a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside its factory to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Locals and retired workers leave after a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside its factory to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities in Anyang, Henan province, China February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man walks past the vehicle repair shop of Wang Junchang which is located opposite a steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man walks past the vehicle repair shop of Wang Junchang which is located opposite a steel plant in Anyang, Henan province, China February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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