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How is China’s real estate crisis destroying livelihoods?

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How is China’s real estate crisis destroying livelihoods?

FAng Hua and Qin Lu sit in the building’s shell on white imitation leather sofas that they have pulled into the stairwell. Cables dangle from the concrete, pipes already pulled out. Part of the facade has windows, and in other places the wall collapses. Both women wear sneakers and thin windbreakers over their shirts. They have been waiting here since September to protect the house in which they each bought an apartment from demolition. The women demand that the building be finally finished. But the builder is facing bankruptcy.

Jochen Stanke

Political correspondent for China, Taiwan and North Korea based in Beijing; Former correspondent in Israel.

Construction began four years ago, but nothing happened here for two years. Recently, buyers hung a lock on the corrugated iron gate of the construction fence because the developer wants them to leave. The two women take turns with the other home buyers. Everyone comes for the day or night. Those who could afford it rented a small apartment nearby. Others live in the shell of the building as much as they can. There are camping tents in the attic on the fourth floor.

Zhengzhou, a city of thirteen million people in central China, is full of unfinished construction projects. Dozens of skeletons of houses, some twenty or thirty stories high, are lined up along the typical elevated roads on pillars. Like bleached and dead coral reefs, the unfinished buildings stand side by side, close together, whether on the outskirts of the city, near the city centre, to the west or to the south. On almost all construction sites, cranes are idle if they have not been dismantled for a long time.

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Chinese construction companies face bankruptcy

China’s real estate crisis is particularly affecting beyond the well-known major cities, in so-called second-tier cities such as Zhengzhou. Real estate analysis house CRIC estimated at the end of 2021 that there were 274 problematic construction projects in Zhengzhou. The majority of Chinese people’s private savings are invested in real estate. Even two years after the speculative bubble burst, there does not seem to be any way out in sight.

Water bottles in the lobby of a shell building in Zhengzhou City


Water bottles in the lobby of a shell building in Zhengzhou City
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Photo: Jochen Stanke

Real estate company Evergrande has long been known abroad for accumulating mountains of debt that roughly match Greece’s debt in the European financial crisis at the time. But in addition to Evergrande, dozens of other Chinese real estate developers are also facing bankruptcy. One of the struggling real estate giants is called Jinyi. It is the company from which Chen Lu and Fang Hua bought their apartments in Zhengzhou. In fact, the two have different names, but they are afraid of oppression and still want to talk. Qin Lu says that when she saw the apartment listed online, Jennyyi still had a very good reputation. Like many other construction companies.

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A bridge in China partially collapsed after an accident

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A bridge in China partially collapsed after an accident

As of: February 22, 2024 at 7:46 AM

A cargo ship collided with a bridge in southern China. The building partially collapsed and several vehicles fell into the water. At least two people died.

Pictures show a large hole in a traffic bridge near the greater city of Guangzhou. At the bottom – sandwiched between two pillars – is an apparently empty container ship. Early in the morning, it collided with a pole while passing through the Pearl River Delta and damaged the bridge. Why is not yet known.

The captain is said to have been detained. Authorities said the case is under investigation. State media reported that several vehicles fell into the water, including a bus with a driver. Rescue and rescue workers are on duty.

It seems like the bridge should be better protected

The bridge is closed to traffic and ships are being diverted. According to reports, the bridge was supposed to be equipped with anti-collision protection for ships years ago, but these measures were postponed several times.

With a population of about 130 million, Guangdong is the most populous part of China – and the strongest economically, with lots of industries. A large portion of the People's Republic of China's trade passes through the Pearl River Delta, which also borders the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Benjamin Essel, ARD Beijing, Tagischau, February 22, 2024, 7:47 am

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Baerbock speaks directly to Lavrov at the G20 summit

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Baerbock speaks directly to Lavrov at the G20 summit
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Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green Party) (in background with German flag) and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (foreground right, out of focus) completely apart (archive photo March 2023). © Imago / Florian Gertner / Phototech

During the G20 summit on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Birbock called on Russia to stop the war. She addressed her Russian counterpart directly – and not without reason.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Russia began its war of aggression against Ukraine nearly two years ago – and could end it again. The German Foreign Minister made a similar request Annalena Burbock (The Greens) on Wednesday (February 21) at the G20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro. the greenIt was perhaps no coincidence that the politician addressed her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov directly: the 73-year-old has a habit of conspicuously leaving the hall before Baerbock's speeches.

Berbock’s direct appeal to Lavrov: “Stop this war”

This year, Birbock addressed the Russian Foreign Minister directly at the G20 meeting. Addressing Lavrov, who was sitting three seats to her left, the green politician said: “If you care about human lives, if you care about your people, Russian children and youth, then you must end this war now.” The German Foreign Minister added: „If Russia ends this war now, the path to peace and justice will be wide open tomorrow.”

Shortly before the start of the Ukrainian war, Burbuk and Lavrov shook hands at a joint press conference in Moscow in January 2022, press photos show. They are pictures from another time. A few days later, Russia invaded Ukraine, and since then there has been an icy diplomatic silence between the Kremlin and Berlin. When the German Foreign Minister began her speech at the G20 meeting in Indonesia in July 2022, Lavrov had rushed out of the conference room. The diplomatic scandal had a long-lasting impact.

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Lavrov has left the hall several times: “I am not there to listen to others.”

The diplomats had To Agence France-Presse about the incident that occurred in IndonesiaThe Russian Foreign Minister left the hall in „protest” during Barbuk's speech. However, it is not finally clear whether the minister actually went to the G20 meeting because of Baerbock's speech. “The fact that the Russian Foreign Minister spent a significant part of the negotiations here not in the room, but outside the room, confirms that currently there is not a single millimeter of readiness on the part of the Russian government to talk,” Baerbuk himself analyzed. the incident.

The behavior of the Russian Foreign Minister was not an isolated case: at the OSCE Ministerial Conference at the end of November last year in the North Macedonian capital Skopje, Lavrov had already left the conference room. When Burbock gave her speech. The Foreign Minister then addressed the Russian politician's behavior directly. As in other meetings, it is clear that he is only in the room “when he is talking about himself, but not to listen to others.” Also at that time, the Green politician called on Moscow to immediately stop the aggressive war against Ukraine. (BME with material from EPA)

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Ukraine News: A huge loss for Russia

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Ukraine News: A huge loss for Russia
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In the Ukraine war, Russian forces are increasing the pressure, but Ukraine is able to continue inflicting heavy losses on the Russian army. News Ticker.

  • Ukraine Attack Russian training camp: The attack killed at least 60 Russian soldiers
  • Although Taurus is debated: Ukraine's Ambassador thanks Olaf Scholz for „leadership”
  • The information processed here comes from international media and news agencies, but also from warring parties Russia, Ukraine and their allies. In particular, information about the losses of the armies involved Ukraine war It cannot be independently verified.

Update from February 21, 5:21 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a conference call to discuss the situation on the front, ammunition supplies and the blockade imposed by Polish farmers on the Ukrainian border.
This was stated in a post on the Telegram messaging application ocrinform.

“Today, in addition to today's topics, we discussed the blockade on the Polish border. We informed ourselves in detail and outlined our next steps. It will happen very quickly,” Zelensky said. He expressed his conviction of the necessity of continuing trade liberalization with the European Union and thanked the “clear position of the European Commission.”

He added: “Our unity must also be strong in the interests of common security and the security of all countries threatened by Russian aggression.” Zelensky said that circumstantial interests have no right to weaken them.

Ukraine War: Schulz no longer wants to deliver Taurus missiles

Update from February 21, 4:23 p.m.: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) continues to refuse to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. At the same time, he supported the Bundestag proposal put forward by coalition factions on the war in Ukraine “wholeheartedly,” government spokesman Stephen Hebstreit said on Wednesday at the federal press conference in Berlin. The proposal that the Bundestag wants to discuss on Thursday calls for, among other things, „the delivery of additionally requested long-range weapons systems.”

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The application continues to enable Ukraine to “enable targeted attacks on targets of strategic importance far from the rear of the Russian aggressor.” Taurus cruise missiles will meet these requirements, but they are not explicitly stated. Hebestreit didn't even say the word „Taurus.” He said of Schulz's position: „Regarding the delivery of a special weapons system, he is sticking to his position.”

Ukraine is converting to F-16 fighter jets faster than any other country

Update from February 21, 2:10 p.m.: According to Yuriy Ignat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Ukraine is converting to F-16 fighter jets faster than any other country and is making necessary preparations for it. “Pilots are being retrained, infrastructure is being modified, some emergency shelters are being built, and runways are being improved,” he told Uniyan News Agency.

Under wartime conditions, the F-16's infrastructure cannot be fully adapted to the requirements of NATO countries, but „the aircraft can still take off.” They don't know yet when they will get the F-16s, but they expect it „as soon as possible.” Ignat confirmed that the aircraft will be received gradually. “Ukrainian pilots must fully master the technology and fly independently and without an instructor,” the spokesman said. He added: „Our pilots are doing this in an accelerated manner because the retraining course was supposed to take two years, but we are doing it much faster.”

After the capture of Avdiivka: Russian forces are now focusing on Robotyn in the south

Update from February 21, 1:05 p.m.: According to British sources, Russian forces are intensifying their attacks near the village of Robotyn in southern Ukraine. The Russian 58th Army and airborne forces in the region suffered heavy losses in the Ukrainian counteroffensive last year, the British Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday in London. However, it is likely that the slow pace of operations and strong recruitment efforts allowed Russian forces on that front to gather and consolidate their strength, the report said, citing intelligence information.

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Robotyn in the Zaporizhzhya region was liberated by Ukrainian units in the summer of 2023. The village, where a few hundred people originally lived, was closer to the front. She added in London that Russian forces have recently intensified their attacks on other parts of the front. Presumably, the goal is to disperse Ukrainian forces.

Greens criticize FDP coalition partner: Strack-Zimmermann wants to approve the union's proposal on Taurus

Updated from February 21, 11:35 a.m.: By declaring her support for the European Union's request to supply Ukraine with Taurus cruise missiles, the Chair of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), sparked anger among the Green Party.

Parliamentary director of the Green Party's parliamentary group, Irene Mihalik, said in Berlin that she „cannot understand Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann's behavior on this issue, because if she was really interested in the issue of bringing crucial support services together in this federal government” to put Ukraine on its way and document… With this proposal, she must agree to the coalition’s proposal and not the opposition’s proposal.” Mihalik said that what the FDP politician, who is her party’s first candidate for the European elections in June, has to do with “precisely now with this announcement of herself, I can only speculate about it.” She added: “I advise her to vote differently.”

The Green Party politician confirmed that the Traffic Light Coalition had agreed in its own proposal that Ukraine needed large-scale and heavy weapons systems. The Taurus cruise missiles are not specifically named in the application. In response to a journalist's question, Mihalik said: „I do not expect that there will be people in my group who agree with the union's proposal.”

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News about the Ukraine war: Has Russia captured an important bridgehead?

Updated from February 21, 9:45 a.m.: The Ukrainian army denied on Wednesday the loss of the Kryniki bridgehead on the Russian-occupied bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine. The Southern Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on the Internet on Wednesday that information received from “aggressor” Russia about the seizure of the bridgehead was “false.” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Kreinke's arrest on Tuesday in a televised conversation with President Vladimir Putin.

The current situation in the Ukrainian war: Kiev denies that Russia has seized an important bridgehead

The Ukrainian army said: “The defense forces in southern Ukraine continue to maintain their positions and inflict heavy losses on the enemy.”

Russian state media on Tuesday quoted Defense Minister Shoigu as saying that Russian forces were “on the banks of the river in Kryinki.” Ukraine worked hard to build up positions in the village of Krynki in the summer of 2023. Establishing the bridgehead was one of the few successes of the Ukrainian counteroffensive last summer, but it did not lead to any further gains in the territory to the south.

Russia launches new attacks at night – Ukraine announces a successful defense

Update from February 21, 7:45 a.m.: According to its air force, Ukraine was attacked overnight by 19 drones and six missiles. The air defense was able to destroy 13 drones and one missile. Some drones that were not intercepted would not have been able to reach their targets. No other details were provided.

HIMARS in action during the Ukrainian defensive war against Russia.
HIMARS in action during the Ukrainian defensive war against Russia. © Ukrainian Army

Himar attack on a training camp in Donetsk during the Ukrainian War

The first report: Donetsk – Clashes continue between the Ukrainian army and the forces of Kremlin President Vladimir Putin in eastern Ukraine. Finally, the city of Avdiivka fell into the hands of the Russian army. Ukraine withdrew to prevent encirclement. However, even after their success at Avdiivka, Russian units continued to suffer heavy losses on the eastern front lines.

Ukraine attacks Russian training camp: Attack kills at least 60 Russian soldiers

On Tuesday (February 20), the Ukrainian army launched a massive attack on a Russian training site near the village of Trudivsky in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region. This was reported by the Russian version of the BBC, citing informed sources. Russian mechanized soldiers from the eastern Transbaikalia region came under fire with US-supplied Himars missiles as they waited for their commander at a training camp.

According to a BBC report, troops from the 4th, 5th and 6th Companies of the 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade from the Trans-Baikal town of Borzia stood in formation at the site. In the open field they were at the mercy of attack while they waited for their commander, Major General Oleg Moiseev. The fall of the Himars missiles later led to the deaths of dozens, as the BBC found based on video recordings. At least 60 Russian soldiers were killed, according to the radio's estimate of the number of casualties in its report. “The leaders built the camp in an open field,” a survivor of the attack complains in videos.

Despite the Taurus controversy: The Ambassador of Ukraine thanks Olaf Scholz for his “leadership role”

Despite reluctance to deliver the Taurus missiles, Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksiy Makeyev welcomed the assistance provided by the Federal Republic of Ukraine under Chancellor Olaf Scholz.SPD) praised and praised. „Under Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Germany has played a leadership role in supporting our country. I am very grateful for that,” Makeyev told newspapers of the Funke Media Group.

Regarding the controversy over Taurus missiles, Makeyev referred to previous discussions: “When it comes to tanks as well, it has been said for a long time that these systems will not be delivered. But at some point they were there. The same applies to systems that have not been discussed publicly before. (bb/dpa)

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