Working Man Blues

Liaoyang's streets wear the scars of economic devastation. The avenues of this Manchurian city of 1.8 million residents run past abandoned plants and ghost factories. Cities like this were once the industrial backbone of China's planned economy; at the now barren complexes, factory windows are shattered or caked with dust. In the center of town listless workers line crossroads with wooden placards strung across their chests reading "carpenter," "electrician," "plumber"—an army of unemployed laborers that locals say makes up 80% of the workforce. City Hall, a dingy building on Democracy Road, is where workers used to grovel at government offices for...

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