With more than 100 tall cranes on the skyline, this metropolis in western China looks vibrant at first glance despite the country’s sharp economic slowdown.
But only a few cranes — those building national government projects like a high-speed rail line — are floodlit and busy far into the night. The more numerous cranes looming above the skeletons of future high-rises move much less often, even by day, and are dark and deserted by night.
The pattern among Chengdu’s construction cranes is evident across the country. As summer fades into autumn, Beijing is stepping up investment in a bid to rescue the economy, but consumers, businesses and debt-burdened local governments in China are showing little interest in spending money again.