GUANGZHOU, China — When China faced previous economic slowdowns, it favored pharaonic, multibillion-dollar construction projects to quickly pump money into the economy. A bullet train network that now connects 700 cities. Ultramodern expressways longer than America’s interstate highways. And 81 of the world’s 100 highest bridges.
Now, a top Chinese official has a new idea to rev up growth during the coronavirus pandemic: elevators.
China’s premier, Li Keqiang, and his allies in the government want to retrofit as many as three million older, walk-up apartment buildings, projects that usually cost less than $100,000.
The downsized ambitions reflect the evolution of China, from a youthful but impoverished country to a graying but increasingly middle-class one.
Although China still likes grandiose infrastructure projects, they no longer have the same economic effect. High-speed rail lines and superhighways already link every large city, so new ones connect smaller and smaller communities in China’s mountainous