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Looking Back at 2018, and Looking Ahead

Caixin reviews last year’s top trends, and examines ones that will shape 2019

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2018 Through the Lens of Caixin Photographers

2018 Year in Review

Ning Hai, a 44-year-old sea cucumber harvester, strips off his diving suit on Sunday after working in the freezing waters near in Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning province. Harvesting sea cucumbers, an expensive delicacy, is a difficult and dangerous job, but wages have not kept pace with inflation in recent years. Most of Ning’s colleagues are in their 40s now, and their livelihoods are threatened by the industry’s increasing mechanization. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Zhang Guifang, an 84-year-old who lives with her 64-year-old paralyzed son Huang Jinqiang in Tengshan village, Guangdong province, hoists her son out of bed every morning and drags him to where he sits and then drags him back before sunset. Her story reflects the plight of many parents of disabled people. According to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, 45% of the country’s 85 million people living with disabilities were over 65 years old in 2006. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A mountain polluted by a local mineral refinery is seen from above in Huayuan county, Hunan province, on Dec. 24, 2017. The pollution contains heavy metals and harmful chemicals, which can easily contaminate underground water. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Snowy “dikeng,” the cave-like underground living quarters in Central China’s Henan province, are seen from above on Jan. 5, 2018. The history of dikeng goes back more than 4,000 years. The dwellings were first revealed to the wider world 85 years ago when they were spotted by a German pilot. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Ou Xiangbin’s mother cries on the floor after dreaming of her son who fell to his death while climbing down a rope to leave the roof of a building he was working on in Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan province on Feb. 3. Ou and his coworkers were supposed to use a ladder, but it was removed by urban patrol officers who claimed that it was their duty to take away tools illegally placed in public space. Photo: Chen Weixi/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A child suffering from leukemia cries to his mother, while warm milk bags are tied to his arms to relieve the pain of injections, in Yanjiao, Hebei province. About 15,000 children are diagnosed with leukemia every year in China, according to data from the National Children's Medical Center. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Chen Dadong, the founder of Xiaobaige Kindergarten, stands on the ruins of two three-story school buildings that cost 6 million yuan ($870,000) to build. 580 students were left without a school to go to after the kindergarten was torn down in Huaiyang county, Henan province, in February. Dozens of institutions, mostly private kindergartens and primary schools, were demolished when local authorities decided to crack down on the unlicensed use of land by school operators, though the institutions had education licenses and had been allowed to operate for years. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Three members of China’s top political consultative body get interviewed during China’s two annual political sessions on March 3 in Beijing. Since a “delegate passage” was reserved for the first time, reporters were given more opportunities to interview participants. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Li Ka-shing, who was the 23rd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $37.7 billion in January, sits in front of a window in his 70th floor office in Hong Kong on March 12. The 90-year-old announced his retirement in May. Photo: Guo Xianzhong/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Classmates Jia Yi and Ma Nan hold hands as they run to a dance rehearsal in Duancun town, Hebei province, on March 22. For them and other young ballet students in the town, the province’s art college is an escape from rural life, and an alternative to the exam-driven route to success that was the only option for previous generations. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Students from No. 3 Middle School in Mizhi county pass through a narrow alley to leave school in Shaanxi province on May 2. Five days earlier, a man with a knife stabbed 19 students at the school, killing nine. Photo: Ding Gang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

70-year old Gong Wanxiu harvests a local plant on May 8 to earn money in Suizhou, Hubei province. Gong’s family was evacuated from Hanjia Island in a neighboring city, along with more than 100 other households, as part of a government-sanctioned relocation program in early 2010 to make way for the construction of the South-North Water Diversion Project. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Cheng Xingfeng, the mother of a Maoba Middle School student who has been missing since the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, carries the 30th banner she has placed on the ruins of the school every May 12 since the quake 10 years earlier. The earthquake killed nearly 70,000 people in two minutes, injured 370,000 and left nearly 20,000 missing. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A family of three mourns their dead family members on May 12 in front of a building damaged during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Women weed a local grass-seed farm on June 3 at Horqin’s Right Middle Banner in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. In recent years, the local government has instituted a grazing ban in an attempt to reverse the deterioration cause by unregulated grazing. Many herdsmen have learned to farm and can earn nearly 100 yuan ($14.44) per day. Photo: Guo Xianzhong/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Lin Aizhen (left) and Chen Shufen embrace near the sea in Putian, in East China’s Fujian province, on June 9. Both were sold by their parents when they were little. Lin was loved by her adopted family, while Chen was purchased as a child bride and was forced to marry her adopted brother, who is mentally disabled. At least 10,000 young girls were sold as child laborers or brides to families in Putian, according to estimates by women’s rights groups in the province. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Three female detainees at a Compulsory Isolated Drug Rehabilitation Center in Deyang, Sichuan province, on June 10 take a break from rehearsals for a performance to mark United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. In 2017, the number of known drug users in China rose by nearly 2% to 2.55 million, according to official figures. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Ren Huajun tends his goats on a hillside in Zunyi, Guizhou province. A former migrant worker who spent many years away, Ren returned home to take care of his family and raise goats after his father’s death. His father Ren Yunkai, a miner, was arrested for what local police allege was insurance fraud. The elder Ren was diagnosed with stage-one black lung disease at the Guizhou Aerospace Hospital in 2015 and received part of his insurance payout. He died of cancer in May before the investigation had been completed. His and other similar cases attracted claims local police had colluded with companies to undermine workers’ rights. Photo: Ding Gang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Burying the dead is a long-running tradition in much of rural China. On Aug. 3, deep in a mountain hiding place away from her village in Ji’an, Jiangxi province, Yang Ailian (a pseudonym) inspects a coffin she prepared for herself two decades ago. Yang’s husband, who did not want to be cremated, was buried in a similar coffin after he committed suicide to avoid a controversial new law forbidding burials, which is set to take effect in Jiangxi in 2020. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A flooded area of Shouguang town in East China’s Shandong province, is seen from above on Aug. 25. In the photo, locals attempt to dry out their furniture and other household items by leaving them outside. In mid-August, unprecedented flooding triggered by incessant rain and a last-minute discharge of floodwaters from upstream reservoirs wreaked havoc in the city, which is known as a top vegetable and fruit producer. Photo: Chen Weixi/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Zhang Huanzhi, whose son Nie Shubin was wrongly executed because of a miscarriage of justice, dries corn on a roof. Nie was executed in 1995 for the crime of raping and killing a woman in a cornfield near Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. A decade later, another man who had been arrested for a separate crime confessed to the murder. Zhang fought for years to exonerate her son. Photo: Chen Liang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Actors and performers fill the streets during a parade on Oct. 20 at the Film and Television Festival in Hengdian, Zhejiang province. Participants travel from around China to the world’s largest film and television shooting base, Hengdian World Studios, to chase their dreams of stardom. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A fire at a lubricant warehouse in Tianjin’s Binhai New Area lights up the sky on Oct. 29. No deaths were reported. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

The Red Falcon Air Demonstration Team, an aerobatic flying team that is part of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, flies the domestically designed Karakorum-8 jet trainer aircraft at the Zhuhai Airshow in Guangdong province on Nov. 6. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Two women tend a farm in Quanzhou’s Kecuo village in Fujian province on Nov. 13. Behind them, a power station belches smoke into the air. Six days before, toxic C9 aromatic hydrocarbons leaked into the sea, putting more than 50 people from the neighboring town of Xiaocuo in the hospital. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

An elderly patient grasps for the rail of her bed in Songtang Care Hospital, one of China’s first end-of-life centers, in Beijing’s Chaoyang district on Nov. 24. Although the number of people in China over the age of 60 exceeded 240 million in 2017, accounting for about 17% of the population — there are only a few dedicated hospices in the country equipped to provide end-of-life care. Photo: Cai Yingli/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

A burnt-out truck sits outside Hebei Shenghua Chemical Co. Ltd. after an explosion left 23 people dead and 22 injured in Zhangjiakou in North China’s Hebei province. The explosion was caused by a vinyl chloride leak at a plant run by a subsidiary of China National Chemical Corp., the state-owned chemical manufacturer. Photo: Ding Gang/Caixin

2018 Year in Review

Cleanup crews in protective suits disinfect a suburban pig farm in Beijing’s Tongzhou district on Dec. 4 after an outbreak of African swine fever. Since the disease — which is deadly for pigs but does not affect humans — first appeared in Northeast China’s Liaoning province, around 600,000 pigs have been culled around the country. China is the world’s largest pork producer and consumer. Photo: Ding Gang/Caixin

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