(June 3): Pieces of an electric car hang from the ceiling of a Chinese real-estate developer’s showroom, evoking an edgy installation at a modern art museum. In reality, they’re a symbol of the nation’s industrial ambitions.

Just down the neatly manicured road, about a dozen skyscrapers rise from the fields as Shunde New Energy Vehicle Town takes shape inside the southern city of Foshan, part of China’s manufacturing heartland. Local officials boast that their planned hub for EV production and research eventually could generate 100 billion yuan ($20.6 billion) in revenue for the hometown economy.

Shunde is one of at least 20 electric-centric versions of Detroit under construction as China goes all-in on a technology projected to sell in record numbers this year. President Xi Jinping wants the nation’s 500 EV makers to be magnets for ancillary industries as he pushes to build a manufacturing superpower by 2025. That blueprint, meant to make China more self-sufficient and diversify an investment landscape dominated by volatile property and equity markets, has become central to the US-China trade war.

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