The Current

China's deserted 'ghost cities' appeal to new residents

It is urban planning Chinese-government style, whole tracts of underdeveloped land used to create move-in ready cities in anticipation of a growing population. But apartments in highrises are empty and wide streets ready to funnel traffic are curiously unclogged. We visit China's "ghost cities."
Ordos Kangbashi is China’s most famous 'Ghost City ', a boom town that died before it was even born. (Wade Shepard)
"There are 20-40 million empty apartments in China; enough floor space to cover Madrid."- Wade Shepard, author of 'Ghost Cities'

Today in China, one of the biggest movements of people in history is underway, as millions upon millions move from country to city.  This massive migration is the backbone of China's changing economy.

But it's one that's having a curious ripple effect right across the country. 

In Kangbashi. the museum looks like a giant golden jelly bean and the library was built to look like a gigantic row of books. (Wade Shepard)

Today, as part of our project Ripple Effect, we're hearing about China's so-called, "ghost cities"  But they're not ghostly because they're old and abandoned — these are brand new cities.

A video from Wade Shepard's visit to Xinyang's new district

Author Wade Shepard has spent the past few years touring them for his book, Ghost Cities of China. 

"Millions of apartments are uninhabited throughout China not because of a slow economy or a lack of interest in the properties, but for the exact opposite reason: many people in this country are investing in real estate they have no intention of living in", says Wade Shepard. (Wade Shepard)

"It's like a dream; you wake up in the city, but nobody is there but you."- Wade Shepard on visiting China's 'ghost cities'
Zhengdong's New District financial centre was created to be world class. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the circular plan has two concentric ring roads which make the area look like a giant archery target from above. (Wade Shepard)
The New South China Mall was once promoted as the world's biggest mall and is now deserted. (Wade Shepard)
On the outskirts of Huizhou, in Guangdong province, lies a precise replica copy of Hallstatt in Upper Austria... right down to the birds tweeting throughout the streets, playing from hidden speakers. (Wade Shepard)

Tour Hallstat, China, in this video with Wade Shepard

British themed Thames Town in Songjiang District, Shanghai, China

Every single one of the properties in the foreign theme towns, have been sold, and many at very high prices. The going rate to get a property in Thames Town is around $3 million. (Wade Shepard)

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese.