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China's Got a Rust Belt Too, You Know

China's Got a Rust Belt Too, You Know

Reviving the steel and coal industries is central to US President Donald Trump’s pledge to “Make America Great Again.” But the decline of industrial heartlands is also a political challenge for the country that Trump blames most for the anguish of America’s Rust Belt.


Dongbei, a region comprising three provinces in northeastern China, was once the country’s industrial powerhouse. Its massive steel and manufacturing plants, built in part by Japanese occupiers in the years before World War Two, were the engine of the Maoist economy for decades.

But over the past 30 years, the region, home to more than 100 million people, has hit the skids. The export-oriented economic reforms of the 1980s shifted the government’s attention from Dongbei’s largely landlocked heavy industries to lighter manufacturing centers along the Chinese coast.

As a result, Dongbei’s contribution to GDP has fallen by half, to about 7 percent, since 1980, and there isn’t much relief in sight. Beijing’s massive new Belt and Road Initiative focuses primarily on transit corridors across the country’s Western provinces. And Dongbei’s neighbors — impoverished North Korea and the sparsely populated reaches of the Russian Far East and Mongolia — offer little economic prospect on their own.

Unlike Trump, who seeks to revive struggling private sector heavy industries, Chinese President Xi Jinping aims to move the economy away from state-owned heavy industry and towards state-backed high value manufacturing and tech.

But President Xi has his own Rust Belt challenge then: how to pull off that economic transition without upending economic and social stability in the historic, and symbolic, industrial heartland of China.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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