To collect money back from its debtors, on April 26, the Finance Bureau of Wuhan City, Hubei Province, published a full-page debt collection announcement in the Yangtze River Daily (the primary local newspaper in Wuhan). The announcement listed 259 debtors and their unpaid balances as of the end of 2018. The debtor list included Finance Bureaus at the city’s districts, research institutes, state-owned enterprises, listed companies, and a few private enterprises. The amount each one owed ranged from ten thousand yuan to over ten million yuan, with the total exceeding 100 million yuan (US $14 million).
Wuhan city’s fiscal income in 2020 was 123 billion yuan, down 21.3 percent from 2019 (pre-COVID time). It recovered 158 billion yuan in 2021. The amount came down slightly to 151 billion yuan in 2022. Income in the first quarter this year was 50.8 billion yuan, down 8.5 percent from a year ago.
The debt that Wuhan city is publicly collecting is relatively small compared to Wuhan’s fiscal income, but the act of public debt collection revealed that the city is in such a poor financial situation that it had to resort to a harsh solution. Another issue was that China’s Ministry of Finance required each local government to clean (take back) all money it lent out prior to 2018.
1. Central News Agency (Taiwan), May 30, 2023
2. China Digital Times, May 30, 2023