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From the Farm to Xiao Feng’s Plate

Making Sense of China’s Economic Turmoil

The myriad causes and symptoms of China’s economic slowdown continue to dominate the headlines in the global financial press:

  • Rising wages, making Chinese manufactures less attractive on the global market
  • Factories closing
  • Spluttering stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen
  • Chinese demand for global commodities dropping precipitously
  • RMB devaluation
  • Extravagant spending falls with anti-corruption measures
  • Overstocked car dealerships in Chinese cities

The list could go on. In any case, it clearly is not business as usual—or at least not what Chinese consumers and international business leaders alike have become accustomed to during the past several years of rapid growth. As the world’s second largest economy, even small fluctuations in China have far-reaching global impact. The dollar amounts involved are staggering, and the steady stream of figures and statistics can easily become overwhelming.

To help make sense of it all, Jonah Kessel of New York Times has put together an engaging 5-minute video that explains China’s macroeconomic turmoil in terms of something that everyone in China can relate to—the price of pork.

In To Understand Renminbi, Follow the Bacon Kessel traipses from pig farm to market to a middle class family kitchen in Guangzhou as he unpacks China’s economic slowdown and its effect on ordinary Chinese. Eating meat on a regular basis, once considered a luxury in China, may remain an expectation of modern Chinese middle class life. The price of doing so, however, will likely mean cutting back in other areas.

How is the shifting economy affecting life where you live in China? If you have a story about what China’s financial slowdown means to you, we’d like to hear it.

Brent Fulton is the president of ChinaSource and author of the forthcoming book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden. You can email him at

Image credit: Butcher in the market by Deck Accessory via Flickr,
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Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio

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