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China's strongman has a weak point: the economy

Liaoning Province's once-thriving coal industry is now a shadow of its former self. (Photo by Daisuke Harashima)

BEIJING When it comes to political power struggles, Xi Jinping seems to have little trouble flexing his muscles, as the dramatic downfall of numerous foes attests. But the Chinese president is up against a tougher enemy now: a chronically ailing economy in need of painful structural reforms.

At first glance, the Chinese economy appears stable, especially compared with the tumultuous summer of 2015, when the country's devaluation of the yuan against the U.S. dollar and a sharp decline in Shanghai stocks sent shock waves through global markets.

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