Caixin
Jan 04, 2020 09:35 AM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Photo Essay: A Look Back at China’s 2019

An aerial view of the Chenjiagang Chemical Industry Plant located in the city of Yancheng, East China’s Jiangsu province. On March 21, an explosion at the factory reportedly killed 78 people and injured 617. Published May 20.
An aerial view of the Chenjiagang Chemical Industry Plant located in the city of Yancheng, East China’s Jiangsu province. On March 21, an explosion at the factory reportedly killed 78 people and injured 617. Published May 20.

China had a turbulent 2019. Internationally, the country’s trade war with the United States dominated headlines, even as the two sides finally committed to a “phase one” trade agreement in December. Meanwhile, at home, the Communist Party successfully navigated a series of significant and politically sensitive anniversaries, culminating in the vast military parade that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

Other events were less rosy. Farmers bewailed the spread of a deadly African swine fever epidemic that by autumn had brought a more than 40% year-on-year fall in China’s pig population. A number of other disasters ravaged the nation, too: Some, like the devastating landfall of Typhoon Lekima in August or September’s dengue fever outbreak, were of natural origin; others, like the gas factory explosion that killed scores of people in the eastern city of Yancheng in March, were decidedly manmade.

China by no means hobbled into the new decade, but it didn’t exactly stride grandly into it, either. As 2020 gets underway, the country is battling a slowing economy, months-long political unrest in Hong Kong, and increased global scrutiny of alleged rights abuses in the country’s far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, claims that the government has consistently denied.

How China grapples with these tumultuous events will likely have a profound impact on both the country and the world. At the dawn of a new decade, Caixin Global looks back on some of the photography that captured the past year.

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Waterlogged clothes and bedding are laid out to dry in the village of Shanzao in East China’s Zhejiang province. Flooding caused by Typhoon Lekima killed 56 people on the Chinese mainland in August. Published Aug. 19.


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A man sprays insecticide to kill mosquitoes in East China’s Jiangxi province. An outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever infected more than 600 people there during the summer and early autumn. Published Sept. 16.


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Clubbers in Shenyang, capital of Northeastern China’s Liaoning province, drink beers after a night of revelry. Published March 18.


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A pig farm in Jiangsu last summer. African swine fever spread to every province and region of the country last year, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of pigs. Published Nov. 11.


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Flag-carrying helicopters fly in formation over Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Published Oct. 1.


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A female member of a circus troupe films a male counterpart dancing. Circus troupes were once common across rural China, but the industry has declined in recent years due to a clampdown on the use of animals and a rise in new forms of entertainment. Published Nov. 4.


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The boss of a bedding company sits on a bed floating on a lake near Yiwu, Zhejiang, as part of a promotional video. Published April 29.


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People await the start of a dress rehearsal for a show publicizing “hanfu,” or traditional Chinese dress, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in “hanfu” and other forms of traditional culture. Published Nov. 18.


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Youngsters use e-cigarettes at an exhibition in Shanghai. In November, the Chinese government effectively banned the online sale of e-cigarettes to prevent the addictive and potentially harmful products from falling into the hands of minors. Published Oct. 30.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

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