About 100 recent homebuyers protested plunging real estate values at China Vanke, a Chinese real estate company, on Sunday in Shanghai. The protesters said they wore surgical masks to hide their identities. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Cui Jinmin oversees an abandoned strip of unfinished highway in western China's Shaanxi province. Cui says the government stopped paying his workers in April and they went home in July. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Customers look at iPads at an Apple Store in Shanghai, China. Some goods made in China cost more there than they do abroad. Jing wei/Imaginechina via AP hide caption

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Outspoken Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei (shown inside his compound on the outskirts of Beijing) was detained by the government for nearly three months. Now, the government says he owes $2.4 million in taxes and fines. Supporters are sending him money, raising nearly $1 million so far. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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An elderly Chinese man and woman chat at a park in Shanghai. Hundreds of elderly Shanghai residents make their way to IKEA twice a week for an informal lonely hearts club. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Lujiazui, Shanghai's financial district, includes the world's third- and sixth-tallest buildings. The city's population is 23 million.

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At least 80 business owners have abandoned factories like this one in Wenzhou, China's entrepreneurial capital, because they have run up exorbitant debts to the city's loan sharks and underground lenders.

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Earlier this year, Shanghai tried to slow down real estate sales by restricting some deals. It's part of a broader Chinese government plan to slow the country's staggering growth. Eugene Hoshiko/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eugene Hoshiko/AP

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan offshore on March 11, setting into motion a tsunami that engulfed large parts of northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear meltdown at a power plant in Fukushima. On March 26, a man walks among debris in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images hide caption

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