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China debt: beyond the boondoggles, is China worth further investment, and why is water controversial?

China’s top leaders are expected to assemble soon at the central economic work conference in Beijing to hammer out economic goals for 2024. This is the fourth part in a series looking at what to expect from China’s economy next year.

When Shanghai announced it would modernise water systems for households in suburban areas, the initiative generated a stir among local residents keen on seeing quality-of-life improvements.

Through the pilot scheme, about 10,000 households in suburban towns may finally be able to glug potable water right from the taps in the coming years. It is meant to be a prelude to a broader upgrade across the city of 25 million that local authorities say should be finished by 2035.

But to achieve that goal, several billion yuan will be needed to upgrade existing pipelines, water-purification equipment and waste-disposal facilities.

Yet, in a time of mounting…

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