At a cavernous factory in the Chinese city of Xuzhou, 100 new workers have just been hired to produce giant construction cranes. Nearby, at another sprawling factory, employees toil until midnight to assemble drilling and tunneling machines. A few blocks away, their colleagues at a factory that makes dump trucks have received enough orders to keep them busy well into next year.
These factories, and half a dozen more in the city, are all owned by Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group, a state-owned industrial behemoth that manufactures the outsize machines behind China’s latest construction boom.
The company, China’s largest producer of construction equipment, is at the cen
ter of Beijing’s strategy to revive the country’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic by doubling down on a tested strategy: investing in infrastructure projects at home.
China appears to have mostly eradicated the coronavirus within its borders. But outbreaks overseas have caused economic downturns elsewhere that have hurt foreign demand for Chinese exports, including the trucks and machines made in Xuzhou.
Foreign markets helped fuel the country’s rapid growth for four decades. But now China is back to doing business with a local customer: itself. Once again, Beijing is investing heavily in the country’s own infrastructure, employing millions of people not just to build new roads, railway lines and sewage systems but also to make the equipment necessary for those projects.