Author Topic: China's "Ghost Cities"  (Read 2372 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.”

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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

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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.

adroth

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Re: China's "Ghost Cities"
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 02:14:53 PM »
China's largest 'ghost city' booms again thanks to education fever
Home prices in Ordos's Kangbashi district soar after top-flight school relocates

IORI KAWATE, Nikkei staff writer
April 19, 2021 02:35 JST

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/China-s-largest-ghost-city-booms-again-thanks-to-education-fever

ORDOS, China -- Kangbashi, a town in the middle of barren Inner Mongolia deserts, once found itself stuck with rows of newly built-but-vacant apartment buildings, earning a nationwide reputation as a guicheng, or ghost town.

Now the district in the city of Ordos is back. Having sold previously empty apartments, Kangbashi town is building more high-rise complexes. "We're not a ghost town anymore," a local property sales manager said with a laugh.

The secret to the reversal of the town's fortunes is the intense competition among high school students, and their parents, to be accepted into China's top universities. Once municipal officials moved some of the city's top schools into Kangbashi, the so-called tiger parents followed and property prices -- along with new investment -- soared.

At a condominium showroom, a salesperson explained fluctuating condominium prices here over the past 10 years.

Work on a new urban center in Kangbashi gained momentum in 2009, as the 4 trillion yuan ($610 billion at current rates) that the central government pumped into the country's economy after the global financial crisis sent coal prices soaring and fueled a frothy property market in Ordos.

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"In normal countries, condominiums are built because there's demand," said an economist under China's State Council. "In China, condominiums are built to increase steel and cement production. It's backward."

The deluge of national housing investment that helped power China's record-breaking 18.3% GDP bounce last quarter has some observers warning of a potential glut.

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