At an eerily quiet construction site in eastern China’s Suzhou, worker Li Hongjun says property developer Evergrande’s debt crisis means he will soon run out of food. Christina Xie, who works in export in the bustling southern city of Shenzhen, fears Evergrande has swallowed her life savings.

The pair, united like legions of others by their connections to the vast China Evergrande Group, show the scale of the challenge facing the Chinese government in managing its financial woes, although economists downplay the risk of a “Lehman moment” style collapse...

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