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China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W8
May 17, 2019
A woman and a child ride an electric tricycle in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January...
Luoyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
A woman and a child ride an electric tricycle in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W9
May 17, 2019
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high speed railway station in the new...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WG
May 17, 2019
Locals and retired workers watch a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside its factory...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W3
May 17, 2019
Fishermen Sun Lianxi, 32, and Sun Genxi, 44, travel down the Yellow River to cast their net on the northern...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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. For generations, the Suns plied their fishing boats up and down the Huai and Yellow Rivers, living off their daily catch. Like their grandfather and father before them, brothers Sun Genxi, 44, and Sun Lianxi were born on a fishing boat. China's economic ascent has tantalised the brothers. "These high-rise buildings have nothing to do with me. They're for others, not me," Lianxi says. "We don't have any part in it." The Suns were owners of a large houseboat, enough to accommodate their clan of 17 spanning four generations under one weather-beaten roof. But as part of a broad-ranging environmental crackdown, local authorities in 2017 took over the houseboat in the name of minimising water pollution and over-fishing. The Suns now live in tents of tarpaulin and plastic sheets by a floating bridge on the banks of the Yellow River, reduced to fishing from a small dinghy. "Who knows, my son one day can maybe become something," Sun Lianxi said. "But we have to break out of this cycle." REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WD
May 17, 2019
A worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese New...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WI
May 17, 2019
High-rises surround a kindergarten in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province,...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
High-rises surround a kindergarten in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WU
May 17, 2019
Zhao Na, 29, a real estate agent, poses for pictures in an upscale showroom apartment in Zhengzhou, Henan...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
Zhao Na, 29, a real estate agent, poses for pictures in an upscale showroom apartment in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 22, 2019. "When I am flush, I am happy to part with money," said Zhao, who once splurged around 60,000 yuan ($9,000) on a clutch of handbags during a trip to Paris in 2017. "Spending makes me happy." But with China's economy slowing, Zhao's business has hit a wall and her income has plummeted, forcing her to shelve that source of happiness. "Not being able to spend money as I like makes me feel lousy, but I cannot do much about it," she said. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W6
May 17, 2019
A deliveryman leans against a cart outside a wholesale market in central Zhengzhou, Henan province, China...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
A deliveryman leans against a cart outside a wholesale market in central Zhengzhou, Henan province, China January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W0
May 17, 2019
Locals and retired workers leave after a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on outside...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W1
May 17, 2019
A driver of a tourist shuttle wears a hat with a red star as she poses for pictures at the Longmen Grottoes...
Luoyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WZ
May 17, 2019
A worker cleans a pond in a park in front of a local government building in a newly developed part of...
LANKAO, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WM
May 17, 2019
Women in graduation dresses take pictures in front of Buddha statues at the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang,...
Luoyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WW
May 17, 2019
Smoke stacks and cooling towers of a power plant rise above a low-rise neighborhood that borders a steel...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
Smoke stacks 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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WY
May 17, 2019
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WC
May 17, 2019
Women buy steamed buns from a street vendor in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January...
Luoyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
Women buy steamed buns from a street vendor in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WK
May 17, 2019
People play with ice floating at a pond in the compound of an apartment complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province,...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WR
May 17, 2019
Interior designer Zhang Chenxuan, who has run an interior design business in Zhengzhou for seven year,...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
Interior designer Zhang Chenxuan, who has run an interior design business in Zhengzhou for seven year, poses in an apartment his company is fitting out in a high-rise in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China, February 20, 2019. Zhang's income has shrunk by 20-30 percent since last year as orders from new home buyers fell, he said. "Clients nowadays only want something practical and simple, that saves money, instead of going for the luxurious," Zhang said. "Eighty percent of my customers now complain that they are very poor, that they don't have the money for proper furnishings." REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W2
May 17, 2019
People leave the high speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
People leave the high speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WP
May 17, 2019
LED lights in the pavement illuminate the square in front of a high speed railway station in the new...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WV
May 17, 2019
Jiejie Li, wife of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi, prepares food on a wood stove in their makeshift...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
Jiejie Li, 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. For generations, the Suns plied their fishing boats up and down the Huai and Yellow Rivers, living off their daily catch. Like their grandfather and father before them, brothers Sun Genxi, 44, and Sun Lianxi were born on a fishing boat. China's economic ascent has tantalised the brothers. "These high-rise buildings have nothing to do with me. They're for others, not me," Lianxi says. "We don't have any part in it." The Suns were owners of a large houseboat, enough to accommodate their clan of 17 spanning four generations under one weather-beaten roof. But as part of a broad-ranging environmental crackdown, local authorities in 2017 took over the houseboat in the name of minimising water pollution and over-fishing. The Suns now live in tents of tarpaulin and plastic sheets by a floating bridge on the banks of the Yellow River, reduced to fishing from a small dinghy. "Who knows, my son one day can maybe become something," Sun Lianxi said. "But we have to break out of this cycle." REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WL
May 17, 2019
A retired worker watches a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on to mark the end of Chinese...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WH
May 17, 2019
Locals wait for the start of a Chinese opera performance that Xinyuan Steel put on for locals and employees...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WS
May 17, 2019
People walk on a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge over Fuxi Mountain valley outside Xinmi city, Henan province,...
XINMI, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
People walk on a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge over Fuxi Mountain valley outside Xinmi city, Henan province, China January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WX
May 17, 2019
A man waits at a bus stop at a high speed railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan province China January...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
A man waits at a bus stop at a high speed railway station in Zhengzhou, Henan province China January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WE
May 17, 2019
Men ride a scooter past a poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping on the side of a school building...
LANKAO, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WJ
May 17, 2019
The son of 32-year-old fisherman Sun Lianxi walks among the debris of their former housing, which they...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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. For generations, the Suns plied their fishing boats up and down the Huai and Yellow Rivers, living off their daily catch. Like their grandfather and father before them, brothers Sun Genxi, 44, and Sun Lianxi were born on a fishing boat. China's economic ascent has tantalised the brothers. "These high-rise buildings have nothing to do with me. They're for others, not me," Lianxi says. "We don't have any part in it." The Suns were owners of a large houseboat, enough to accommodate their clan of 17 spanning four generations under one weather-beaten roof. But as part of a broad-ranging environmental crackdown, local authorities in 2017 took over the houseboat in the name of minimising water pollution and over-fishing. With nowhere to go, the Suns erected temporary housing on the riverside but that too was swiftly dismantled by authorities. The Suns now live in tents of tarpaulin and plastic sheets by a floating bridge on the banks of the Yellow River, reduced to fishing from a small dinghy. "Who knows, my son one day can maybe become something," Sun Lianxi said. "But we have to break out of this cycle." REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WQ
May 17, 2019
A man walks past the vehicle repair shop of Wang Junchang which is located opposite a steel plant in...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W4
May 17, 2019
A woman walks outside a high speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
A woman walks outside a high speed railway station on a hazy morning in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W5
May 17, 2019
Workers eat lunch near the construction site of apartment buildings near the new stadium in Zhengzhou,...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WA
May 17, 2019
A chef walks outside a restaurant at night in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January...
Luoyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
A chef walks outside a restaurant at night in the old town of Luoyang, Henan province, China January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WB
May 17, 2019
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on his make-up before playing a show to locals and...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WO
May 17, 2019
Men rest in front of a center commemorating the local party secretary Jiao Yulu in a rural part of Lankao...
LANKAO, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WF
May 17, 2019
A poster showing Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen in front of the Xinyuan Steel plant in Anyang,...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1W7
May 17, 2019
A performer of a traveling Chinese opera troupe puts on her make-up before playing a show to locals and...
Anyang, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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 SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
CHINA-ECONOMY/HENAN
RTS2I1WN
May 17, 2019
Fisherman Sun Lianxi, 32, stands in a boat as he drops his net into the waters of the Yellow River on...
Zhengzhou, China
The Wider Image: China's slowing economy: the view from the Henan heartland
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. For generations, the Suns plied their fishing boats up and down the Huai and Yellow Rivers, living off their daily catch. Like their grandfather and father before them, brothers Sun Genxi, 44, and Sun Lianxi were born on a fishing boat. China's economic ascent has tantalised the brothers. "These high-rise buildings have nothing to do with me. They're for others, not me," Lianxi says. "We don't have any part in it." The Suns were owners of a large houseboat, enough to accommodate their clan of 17 spanning four generations under one weather-beaten roof. But as part of a broad-ranging environmental crackdown, local authorities in 2017 took over the houseboat in the name of minimising water pollution and over-fishing. The Suns now live in tents of tarpaulin and plastic sheets by a floating bridge on the banks of the Yellow River, reduced to fishing from a small dinghy. "Who knows, my son one day can maybe become something," Sun Lianxi said. "But we have to break out of this cycle." REUTERS/Thomas Peter SEARCH "CHINA HENAN" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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