Author Topic: China's "Ghost Cities"  (Read 1847 times)

adroth

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China's "Ghost Cities"
« on: October 10, 2016, 12:15:17 AM »
The Unreal, Eerie Emptiness of China’s ‘Ghost Cities’

THE KANGBASHI DISTRICT of Ordos, China is a marvel of urban planning, 137-square miles of shining towers, futuristic architecture and pristine parks carved out of the grassland of Inner Mongolia. It is a thoroughly modern city, but for one thing: No one lives there.

Well, almost nobody. Kangbashi is one of hundreds of sparkling new cities sitting relatively empty throughout China, built by a government eager to urbanize the country but shunned by people unable to afford it or hesitant to leave the rural communities they know. Chicago photographer Kai Caemmerer visited Kangbashi and two other cities for his ongoing series Unborn Cities. The photos capture the eerie sensation of standing on a silent street surrounded by empty skyscrapers and public spaces devoid of life. “These cities felt slightly surreal and almost uncanny,” Caemmerer says, “which I think is a product of both the newness of these places and the relative lack of people within them.”

China has built hundreds of new cities over the last three decades as it reshapes itself into an urbanized nation with a plan to move 250 million rural inhabitants—more than six times the population of California—into cities by 2026. The newly minted cities help showcase the political accomplishments of local government officials, who reason that real estate and urban development is a safe, high-return investment that can help fuel economic growth.

But it’s hard to start a city from scratch. Most people don’t want to live somewhere that feels dead, and these new cities sometimes lack the jobs and commerce needed to support those who would live there. In Kangbashi, the government used some administrative tricks to address this, relocating bureaucratic buildings and schools, then trying to convince people in surrounding villages to move in. It had minor success. Today, a city designed for at least 500,000 has around 100,000 inhabitants.

“Cities and districts built without demand or necessity resulted in what some Chinese scholars have termed, literally,’walls without markets’,” says William Hurst, political science professor at Northwestern University. “Or what we might translate as uncompleted or hollow cities. Political exigency and investment hysteria trumped economic calculus or consideration of genuine human needs.”

< Edited >

adroth

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Re: China's "Ghost Cities"
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2016, 12:29:23 AM »
Various reports

Uncovering China's Ghost Citiies (14:21): https://youtu.be/GpnoPhY1f70


adroth

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Re: China's "Ghost Cities"
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2018, 03:44:44 PM »
From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2017/06/30/ordos-chinas-most-infamous-ex-ghost-city-continues-rising/#157088466877

< Edited >

It was in Ordos Kangbashi, in fact, that the Chinese ghost city narrative was born. In 2009, an Al Jazeera reporter reputedly stumbled into the new city by accident while reporting on another story. Although there were roughly 30,000 people living in Kangbashi at that time, she called the place "empty" and dismissed it as a ghost town. This narrative spread through the various media channels of the world like a brush fire in a dry summer. The story fed the West a validation many seemed to have been grasping for: that the rise of China was a hoax, that the country was cooking the books on their gaudy GDP growth numbers, that the “awakened dragon” hype amounted to little substance.

What was completely missed in the analysis of this initial report was that when Al Jazeera visited, Kangbashi was a mere five years old. This means that a massive section of an entirely new city was built and partially populated within half a decade. In a world where it takes Germany over 25 years to plan and build a single airport, or where the Empire State Building was once despairingly monikered the “Empty State Building” for its lack of tenants during its first decades after construction, and where it regularly takes western cities five to ten years to build civil works projects like monorails or new subway lines, Ordos Kangbashi probably should have impressed the world with its rapid pace of development. Instead, it was mocked as a ghost city.

However, in 2017, the ghost city label is getting more than a little difficult to hang on Ordos Kangbashi. According to a recent report, there are now 153,000 people living there, 4,750 businesses are now in operation, and housing prices have risen roughly 50% on average from the end of 2015, when the local real estate market bottomed out. Of the 40,000 apartments that had been built in the new district since 2004, only 500 are still on the market.