Can China's Backwaters Save the Global Economy?

Photograph for TIME by Tomas van Houtryve / Panos

I'll take this one
A woman inspects vans at Xi'an's Wuling dealership, where sales are brisk

Though he doesn't know it, shop manager Zhu Baohua is on the front lines of the battle to reform the global economy. Zhu's three-floor electronics store, crammed with Sony TVs, Motorola cell phones and HP PCs, is located in a nondescript neighborhood in the western Chinese city of Xi'an. Far from China's dynamic coastal manufacturing and financial centers, Xi'an for decades has been an economic backwater known mainly as the home of China's famed terra-cotta warriors, reminders of the city's glory days as a capital of ancient dynasties.

But today, Xi'an...

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