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Half these apartments are empty': Mao's former home city struggles with growth

Half these apartments are empty': Mao's former home city struggles with growth
- A sprawling city of 3.7 million people, Changsha boasts more than 2,000 years of history. The capital of China’s Hunan province extends along the east bank of the Xiang river, in whose waters Chairman Mao used to swim when he was a student. Two millennia before, the city was a state capital under the Han Dynasty. There’s little trace of it today.
Much was wiped out in 1938 when the city burned for three days. More than 20,000 people died and two-thirds of the city’s buildings were destroyed after the ruling Nationalist authorities started the fire to stop the Japanese army from gaining supplies. In the words of an American missionary present at the time, Changsha “lay flat, wrecked and totally vulnerable”.