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China can't count on consumers to get through trade war

Households are too deeply in debt to drive economic growth

| China
Chinese consumer debt is rising at an unprecedented rate, driven by borrowing for property purchases.   © Reuters

Despite the reputation of Chinese households as prudent savers, consumer debt has been rising rapidly in the country and by some measures surpasses U.S. levels.

What does this debt burden mean for Beijing as economic growth slows and comes under further pressure from the burgeoning trade conflict with the U.S. and the authorities' campaign against financial risk? Can the government, as many Western investment banks and fund houses say, count on consumer demand to sustain the economy?

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