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China To Shut Down Hundreds Of Coal Mines In 2016

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

China plans to close more than 1,000 coal mines this year. It's producing too much coal and, as in the United States, coal prices are very low. Since coal powers so much of the economy, it's also a symptom of the broader economic situation. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: The closures are part of a plan to cut nearly half a billion tons of coal production over the next few years. That's because demand for coal has plunged here, as China shifts from a dirty industrial economic model to one built on services. The European Chamber of Commerce in China put out an unusually blunt report on the problem this week, criticizing the Chinese government for failing to cut capacity in dozens of industries. In an interview with state-run China Radio International, Chamber President Joerg Wuttke said local officials are desperate for tax revenue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOERG WUTTKE: Why do local governments support companies beyond their shelf life? Because they don't have enough money. They are worried about loss of business. They're worried about unemployment, so they keep going.

LANGFITT: The chamber called the overcapacity problem, quote, "ever more destructive to China and the global economy," as China's industrial glut depresses commodity prices and sparks trade fights. Frank Langfitt at NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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