Is the Boom Deferred?
By Ben Dolven/SHANGHAI and David Murphy/BEIJING
Issue cover-dated May 08, 2003
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a month makes. At the end of March, China’s economy was in its biggest boom in six years. First-quarter growth was a sizzling 9.9%, at a time when Europe and Japan were stumbling and the United States market was shaken by war. More than $13 billion of investment poured into China in those three months. It was the place investors felt they couldn’t afford not to be.
Now, as Sars supplants the war in Iraq as the world’s top news story, China is the place nervous executives are afraid to show up in. Bevies of business leaders including Motorola Chief Executive Chris Galvin and Boeing CEO Phil Condit have cancelled trips. Dramatic scenes of quarantined neighborhoods, fleeing expatriate families and empty business districts in Beijing have raised the question: Can China’s economic boom survive this?
Worries abound. The disease could spread and wreak havoc in China’s hinterland, where health care is poor. (Poor is not the word