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A Picture of China in 2017

  • January 2, A Xia (front) and his coworkers, all members of the Yi minority from the Liangshan region of Sichuan, start their first day of work at an electronic device factory in Shenzhen. There are now an estimated 300,000 Yi workers in the Pearl River Delta. (Zhou Qiang)
    January 2, A Xia (front) and his coworkers, all members of the Yi minority from the Liangshan region of Sichuan, start their first day of work at an electronic device factory in Shenzhen. There are now an estimated 300,000 Yi workers in the Pearl River Delta. (Zhou Qiang)
  • January 22, six days before the Lunar New Year, a migrant couple rides a motorcycle from Zhongshan, Guangdong province to Pingnan in Guangxi, to go home for the holiday. The trip is 245 miles. Although biking is far from the safest travel option, it’s cheap and a good way to avoid overcrowded trains and buses. (Liang Yingfei/Caixin)
    January 22, six days before the Lunar New Year, a migrant couple rides a motorcycle from Zhongshan, Guangdong province to Pingnan in Guangxi, to go home for the holiday. The trip is 245 miles. Although biking is far from the safest travel option, it’s cheap and a good way to avoid overcrowded trains and buses. (Liang Yingfei/Caixin)
  • January 29, the second day of the Lunar New Year, Nong Xiurong (right) gives a pack of tea leaves to Zhao Yuqing (left) as a gift before Zhao and Nong’s son Wang Quanming end their visit, in Anxi, Fujian province. Wang hired Zhao to pose as his girlfriend so his family would stop pressuring him to find a wife. China’s gender imbalance sometimes makes it difficult for men to find a partner. (Muyi Xiao/Reuters)
    January 29, the second day of the Lunar New Year, Nong Xiurong (right) gives a pack of tea leaves to Zhao Yuqing (left) as a gift before Zhao and Nong’s son Wang Quanming end their visit, in Anxi, Fujian province. Wang hired Zhao to pose as his girlfriend so his family would stop pressuring him to find a wife. China’s gender imbalance sometimes makes it difficult for men to find a partner. (Muyi Xiao/Reuters)
  • February 11, at the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, nine-year-old Lü Siqi cries as her mother waves goodbye in Xiangshuitan township, Jiangxi province. Siqi’s parents both work in Hangzhou and visit her twice a year—once on the Lunar New Year and once on her birthday. She is among an estimated 9 million so-called “left-behind children” currently living in the Chinese countryside without their parents. (Chen Ronghui/Sixth Tone)
    February 11, at the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, nine-year-old Lü Siqi cries as her mother waves goodbye in Xiangshuitan township, Jiangxi province. Siqi’s parents both work in Hangzhou and visit her twice a year—once on the Lunar New Year and once on her birthday. She is among an estimated 9 million so-called “left-behind children” currently living in the Chinese countryside without their parents. (Chen Ronghui/Sixth Tone)
  • March 14, children participate in an anti-THAAD themed activity, at Longwangmiao Township Kindergarten in the city of Handan in Hebei province. In early March, the U.S. announced that it had started to deploy a THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea in response to North Korea’s provocative behavior. China’s leaders opposed the move, regarding it as a threat to the country’s security. (ImagineChina)
    March 14, children participate in an anti-THAAD themed activity, at Longwangmiao Township Kindergarten in the city of Handan in Hebei province. In early March, the U.S. announced that it had started to deploy a THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea in response to North Korea’s provocative behavior. China’s leaders opposed the move, regarding it as a threat to the country’s security. (ImagineChina)
  • April 10, 50-year-old Zhao, owner of a shoe factory, covers his face to hide tears while discussing his worries about the future, in Anxin county, Hebei province. The Chinese central government announced the establishment of the Xiong’an New District on April 1. The district, designed to become a hub of economic development, encompasses the counties of Xiongxian, Anxin, and Rongcheng in Hebei. Many locals have feared their small businesses will be displaced by newcomers. (Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone)
    April 10, 50-year-old Zhao, owner of a shoe factory, covers his face to hide tears while discussing his worries about the future, in Anxin county, Hebei province. The Chinese central government announced the establishment of the Xiong’an New District on April 1. The district, designed to become a hub of economic development, encompasses the counties of Xiongxian, Anxin, and Rongcheng in Hebei. Many locals have feared their small businesses will be displaced by newcomers. (Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone)
  • May 3, 31-year-old Yu Cunjiang takes off his safety helmet and gets ready for breakfast after working a 14-hour night shift in the Jinhuagong coal mine in Datong, Shanxi province. Shanxi, whose economy once relied heavily on its mineral resources, has shuttered 52 coal mines in the past two years in order to combat pollution, laying off thousands of workers in the process. (Li Junhui)
    May 3, 31-year-old Yu Cunjiang takes off his safety helmet and gets ready for breakfast after working a 14-hour night shift in the Jinhuagong coal mine in Datong, Shanxi province. Shanxi, whose economy once relied heavily on its mineral resources, has shuttered 52 coal mines in the past two years in order to combat pollution, laying off thousands of workers in the process. (Li Junhui)
  • May 14, Xi Jinping makes a toast during a welcome banquet for the Belt and Road Forum (BARF) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Belt and Road Initiative, now in its 5th year, is one of Xi’s signature programs. It seeks to dramatically expand Chinese trade, infrastructure, and economic influence in neighboring countries and around the world.  (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)
    May 14, Xi Jinping makes a toast during a welcome banquet for the Belt and Road Forum (BARF) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Belt and Road Initiative, now in its 5th year, is one of Xi’s signature programs. It seeks to dramatically expand Chinese trade, infrastructure, and economic influence in neighboring countries and around the world. (Wu Hong-Pool/Getty Images)
  • May 16, 19-year-old Eid (right), a member of the Muslim Hui minority, prays with his classmates, who are also Chinese Muslims, at an apartment they rent together in Cairo, Egypt. Eid studies at Al-Azhar University in a program that prepares students for college. He rarely returns to China because he worries he might not be allowed to leave the country again. This year, China launched a campaign to repatriate and interrogate Muslims studying overseas. (Li)
    May 16, 19-year-old Eid (right), a member of the Muslim Hui minority, prays with his classmates, who are also Chinese Muslims, at an apartment they rent together in Cairo, Egypt. Eid studies at Al-Azhar University in a program that prepares students for college. He rarely returns to China because he worries he might not be allowed to leave the country again. This year, China launched a campaign to repatriate and interrogate Muslims studying overseas. (Li)
  • May 23, Chinese tourists ride in a boat on the Yalu river, which forms part of the border between China and North Korea. China has long been North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, but relations are increasingly strained by continued missile testing and provocations by the regime of Kim Jong-un. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
    May 23, Chinese tourists ride in a boat on the Yalu river, which forms part of the border between China and North Korea. China has long been North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, but relations are increasingly strained by continued missile testing and provocations by the regime of Kim Jong-un. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
  • June 15, Mrs. Zheng looks back at her transgender son, Chen Zhichao, and his bride, Yang Jieli, during a LGBTQ group wedding ceremony on a cruise sailing between China and Japan. The wedding was part of a four-day event organized annually by a Chinese NGO in an effort to help LGBTQ people and their families better understand and support one another. (Yuyang Liu/ChinaFile)
    June 15, Mrs. Zheng looks back at her transgender son, Chen Zhichao, and his bride, Yang Jieli, during a LGBTQ group wedding ceremony on a cruise sailing between China and Japan. The wedding was part of a four-day event organized annually by a Chinese NGO in an effort to help LGBTQ people and their families better understand and support one another. (Yuyang Liu/ChinaFile)
  • June 28, student protest leader Joshua Wong shouts as he is carried by policemen while protesters are arrested at a monument commemorating the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive to celebrate the handover’s 20th anniversary, in Hong Kong. In August, Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow were sentenced to prison for six to eight months in connection with their participation in 2014’s “Umbrella Movement.” (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
    June 28, student protest leader Joshua Wong shouts as he is carried by policemen while protesters are arrested at a monument commemorating the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive to celebrate the handover’s 20th anniversary, in Hong Kong. In August, Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow were sentenced to prison for six to eight months in connection with their participation in 2014’s “Umbrella Movement.” (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
  • July 1, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (right), Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive, and her new cabinet are sworn in by Chinese President Xi Jinping during an inauguration ceremony in Hong Kong. (Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)
    July 1, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (right), Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive, and her new cabinet are sworn in by Chinese President Xi Jinping during an inauguration ceremony in Hong Kong. (Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)
  • July 15, protesters carrying candles take part in a march to mourn the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong. Liu, a literary theorist, poet, and longtime dissident who authored the pro-democracy manifesto “Charter 08,” died on July 13 from complications of liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence for “incitement to subvert state power.” He was 61. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
    July 15, protesters carrying candles take part in a march to mourn the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong. Liu, a literary theorist, poet, and longtime dissident who authored the pro-democracy manifesto “Charter 08,” died on July 13 from complications of liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence for “incitement to subvert state power.” He was 61. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
  • July 18, Xiang Lisheng, who suffers from liver cancer his family believes was caused by heavy metal poisoning, fell into a coma at home, in Laowangzhai village, Huayuan county, Hunan province. He passed away the next day. Huayuan is famous for its rich reserves of non-ferrous metals, and years of resource exploitation have caused severe pollution. (Qiu Bo/Greenpeace)
    July 18, Xiang Lisheng, who suffers from liver cancer his family believes was caused by heavy metal poisoning, fell into a coma at home, in Laowangzhai village, Huayuan county, Hunan province. He passed away the next day. Huayuan is famous for its rich reserves of non-ferrous metals, and years of resource exploitation have caused severe pollution. (Qiu Bo/Greenpeace)
  • September 26, 63-year-old lung cancer patient Yang Qiuping waits to get her medicine at Fortis Hospital’s phamarcy in Gurugram, India. Because cancer medicine is too expensive for many people to afford in China, some travel to India to seek less costly treatment. (Vincent Du/Tencent Guyu Project)
    September 26, 63-year-old lung cancer patient Yang Qiuping waits to get her medicine at Fortis Hospital’s phamarcy in Gurugram, India. Because cancer medicine is too expensive for many people to afford in China, some travel to India to seek less costly treatment. (Vincent Du/Tencent Guyu Project)
  • October 10, 15-year-old Ryan does not participate during chapel at South Kent School, in Connecticut. He came to the U.S. from China this September to attend high school. An increasing number of Chinese families are sending their children to the U.S. for education. (Wu Jiaxiang/Tencent Guyu Project)
    October 10, 15-year-old Ryan does not participate during chapel at South Kent School, in Connecticut. He came to the U.S. from China this September to attend high school. An increasing number of Chinese families are sending their children to the U.S. for education. (Wu Jiaxiang/Tencent Guyu Project)
  • October 22, a man in his 70s dances at a club for middle-aged and elderly people in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. China’s One Child Policy has left the country with an aging crisis—almost a quarter of the country will be over 65 by 2050—and new businesses targeting elderly customers are beginning to emerge. (Liu Feiyue)
    October 22, a man in his 70s dances at a club for middle-aged and elderly people in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. China’s One Child Policy has left the country with an aging crisis—almost a quarter of the country will be over 65 by 2050—and new businesses targeting elderly customers are beginning to emerge. (Liu Feiyue)
  • October 18, China’s former president Jiang Zemin, 91, attends the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 18, 2017 in Beijing. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
    October 18, China’s former president Jiang Zemin, 91, attends the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 18, 2017 in Beijing. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
  • November 8, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania arrive on Air Force One in Beijing. Despite his frequent harsh rhetoric about China, Trump seemed to bask in the pageantry of his November state visit. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
    November 8, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania arrive on Air Force One in Beijing. Despite his frequent harsh rhetoric about China, Trump seemed to bask in the pageantry of his November state visit. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
  • November 10, Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group, with actress Nicole Kidman and other celebrities, attend a show during Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Singles’ Day global shopping festival in Shanghai. The next day, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales hit a new record: U.S.$25 billion. (ImagineChina)
    November 10, Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group, with actress Nicole Kidman and other celebrities, attend a show during Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Singles’ Day global shopping festival in Shanghai. The next day, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales hit a new record: U.S.$25 billion. (ImagineChina)
  • November 31, 31-year-old delivery man Pan Yabei sorts packages at Beijing Youth Politics College. Pan’s workload is heavy after Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale. He has been working at the school for nine years but says he will have to leave Beijing soon because the home he rents is considered “unsafe” and he has been urged by authorities to move out. He says he can’t find another affordable place to stay. (Feng Haiyong/Tencent Guyu Project)
    November 31, 31-year-old delivery man Pan Yabei sorts packages at Beijing Youth Politics College. Pan’s workload is heavy after Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale. He has been working at the school for nine years but says he will have to leave Beijing soon because the home he rents is considered “unsafe” and he has been urged by authorities to move out. He says he can’t find another affordable place to stay. (Feng Haiyong/Tencent Guyu Project)
  • November 18, 30-year-old Xu Qinsheng stays in a tent on his bed to keep warm, in Banbi village, Beijing. He has lived here for four years. But the building hasn’t installed heating yet because of new prohibitions on the burning of coal. As China tries to tackle air pollution by using cleaner fuel, shortages of natural gas leave some places without heat amid freezing winter temperatures. (Zhou Na)
    November 18, 30-year-old Xu Qinsheng stays in a tent on his bed to keep warm, in Banbi village, Beijing. He has lived here for four years. But the building hasn’t installed heating yet because of new prohibitions on the burning of coal. As China tries to tackle air pollution by using cleaner fuel, shortages of natural gas leave some places without heat amid freezing winter temperatures. (Zhou Na)
  • December 6, Chinese police walk in a line past houses and factories demolished by authorities in the Daxing District of Beijing. In recent weeks, thousands of migrant workers have been forcibly evicted in a sweeping government safety campaign following a deadly fire at a housing settlement. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
    December 6, Chinese police walk in a line past houses and factories demolished by authorities in the Daxing District of Beijing. In recent weeks, thousands of migrant workers have been forcibly evicted in a sweeping government safety campaign following a deadly fire at a housing settlement. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Visuals Editor Muyi Xiao arrived at ChinaFile this spring. When we asked her to put together a visual retrospective of 2017, initially she selected images that hewed closely to news. But when this approach somehow didn’t feel right to her, she tried something different. “When I look back at 2017 in China, I see faces,” Muyi says. “Some are ambitious, some are earnest, some are upset, some are lost, and some wear expressions I can’t put in words; their fates are intertwined with that of their nation, often beyond their control. I wanted to show these faces, and to thank the photographers who did much more than just shoot their pictures.” —The Editors