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Hong Kong is in flames, the trade war with the US looks set to deepen and questions about China’s global ambitions are being asked around the world. As the Communist Party celebrates its 70th year in power, The Atlantic reports from Khorgos, the rail hub on the Sino-Kazakh border and one of the springboards of the Belt and Road initiative, and discovers that the sheen is beginning to wear off and the dawn of a new age of rail traffic between Asia and China may not be what it once seemed. “The Chinese government provides significant subsidies to encourage use of the rail links, and a recent report by the Chinese Business Journal found that many exporters transported empty containers from China to Europe just to receive those subsidies. China Railway, the government operator of the rail line, admitted to the state-run Global Times that the problem existed.”

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