Yulin once soared to success on a natural resource boom during the heady days of China's economic golden years… and tried its best to follow Beijing's prescription to switch to service industries like tourism. But as Ryan Brooks reports, the plan has largely failed.
Once a natural resource boom town....now a casualty of China's stumbling economy. Beijing wants to pivot away from industry toward service jobs.... And Yulin used to be the poster child for this kind of change.... ... aiming to cash in on its place in the Great Wall of China to transform itself into a big tourist town It actually published a guide for other towns to transform three years ago... But as Reuters' Sue-lin Wong reports, since then it's been a struggle. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, SUE-LIN WONG, SAYING: "People have left Yulin as the economy has sagged and so demand for everything from taxis to restaurants to rental apartments has also fallen with it. For smaller cities, its difficult to rely heavily on services to boost the local economy because the population isn't necessarily there. We heard a lot of people will earn money in Yulin but go to Xi'an which is the big city nearby that is home to the famous Chinese terra cotta warriors and they'll spend their money there instead." The international tourists never came to Yulin, ...now its bright economic future is dead weight- -taking its toll on the town. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, SUE-LIN WONG, SAYING: "Almost every single person I spoke to told me of how suicide has touched their family because of a family or a friend who wasn't able to pay off their debts and saw the and saw that their interest payments were just getting higher and higher as the economy slowed and slowed." Big brands Wal-Mart and Dow Chemical pulled out of Yulin last year.... First tempted by the promise of consumer power... before they met a very different reality on the ground. The one bright spot- the same stuff Yulin can't afford to let go: Coal, oil and gas still keeping the city afloat after all.