Fireworks explode in a Shanghai street on Thursday, the eve of the Lunar New Year. Setting off firecrackers is meant to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. But many Chinese say they won't buy firecrackers this year, owing to growing worries about air quality. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Wuhan, in central China, is in debt to the tune of a reported $33 billion — nearly twice the city's GDP. This 17-mile highway sat dormant for two years after banks cut off funding as Wuhan's debt ballooned. Work on the road resumed last year, but the construction company still hasn't been paid. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Drivers step out of their vehicles for a better view while stuck in traffic along Beijing's Second Ring Road on a "Car Free Day" on Sept. 21, 2010. For foreigners trying to drive in car-crazy China, the headaches begin with the written test. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Qiu Xiaolong in his ancestral house during a visit from his home in St. Louis. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Zheng Jinrong poses with a portrait of herself and her grandson in a migrant village in Shanghai. She received the photographs as part of a global event to provide high-quality portraits for people who otherwise can't afford them. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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A man and child walk in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. China's government recently announced an easing of the country's one-child policy. While the move appears to be broadly supported, many urban Chinese parents say it would be hard to afford a second child. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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U.S. and Philippine navy personnel patrol the seas off a naval base west of Manila in June as part of joint exercises. Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In the past week, this street market in Tacloban has grown exponentially as people try to earn money to rebuild their lives. Frank Langfitt/ NPR hide caption

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