The People's Republic claims to have had 7% economic growth during the first six months of 1998, only slightly down from 8.8% for the whole of 1997 -- despite Asia's economic turmoil.
That rosy picture is belied by the situation in China's coal mines, however. China, one of the world's largest coal producers, is shutting down 22,000 pits by 2000 in a bid to restructure an industry hit by oversupply and weakening demand. Coal meets about 75% of China's energy needs. Yet output fell 7.8% to 539.7 million tons during the first half of 1998, compared with the first six months of 1997.