China’s version of the so-called “war on coal” is the focus of a New York Times profile of Shanxi Region, a part of the country where a recent economic boom was “built on coal and corruption.”
The story traces the rise and fall of coal barons and regional party officials who enjoyed “the most frenetic era of the Chinese boom,” but have now been taken down by a central government intent on rooting out corruption.
“For much of China’s growth era, party officials and businesses have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, with policy concessions and market access granted in exchange for corporate support,” Johnson writes from the regional centre of Lüliang. “Combined with China’s insatiable appetite for coal, that formula helped power Lüliang to its first glimpses of prosperity in generations.”
But now, President Xi Jinping is committed to rooting out corruption and rapidly reducing the country’s reliance on coal, leading to economic uncertainty for the region.