The empty "zombie cities" of China's stillborn rustbelt


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/28/zombie-cities.html


#2

Not many people, no traffic jams, great Internet access… What’s not to like?


#3

greatest is the firewall, and they getting better shutting down VPN connections. the Chinese intranet is certainly large and lively, but I would miss the word-wide part


#4

Man, that would be a drag to build in Minecraft. I guess it’s better if you’re getting paid.


#5

The idea of forcing 100 million to move from the countryside to a city simply because the city needs to be filled sounds like it will produce more problems further down the line.


#6

These aren’t stillborn cities, they are part of a massive speculative property bubble that put Western real estate scammers to shame. In pretty much all cases these flats were bought by people as investments. However, in Chinese culture, no one will buy a house or flat that someone has lived in before. So they sit, waiting for people to buy them at inflated prices so that the investors can at least break even, by people who will live in them. Of course this was the intent from developers from the very beginning, so cutting corners on the quality of contruction is the norm. The flats are sold before construction begins with mockups of the flats being constructed built in showrooms. It’s not uncommon for the built flats to be somewhat less than the mockup you walked through before making the sale.


#7

Mine’s actually working pretty damn well lately. Rode out the last holiday without any loss of access to the outside world. It did slow down some, but that could just as easily have been the internet itself getting a heavy workout rather than my VPN.


#8

Maybe those cities are where they dump all the addresses with a 4 in them from the rest of China?

I bet apt #444 at 144 Fourth St would go for a low price.


#9

Did you mean “hasn’t lived in before”? Because the vast majority of flats are pre-used, but seem to rent fine.


#10

If existence is really transactional, then everything that happens to you is the payment for what you are doing.


#11

Late stage communism.


#12

Beijing continues to find resistance to it’s culture of reductive humanity, and thus it tries to force it upon the populace. News at 11.


#13

I’ve been following this for years. China has a number of empty cities and tens of millions of unoccupied apartments and homes. To keep their economy growing they have to build the equivalent of 20 San Diego sized cities per year. That is an astonishing amount of concrete, glass, steel, asphalt, wiring, paint, etc. If they pause in order to let demand catch up with supply, all those factories go idle and 40 million people lose their jobs. It’s a bubble that is many times worse than what occurred in the US because the construction industry represents a huge percentage of the Chinese economy.


#14

All that empty and new housing stock and yet no-one in the Chinese government ever wonders why they have to impose currency export controls to keep middle-class citizens from pooling their money to buy over-priced real estate in the West.


#15

It looks like China has solved the world’s “homeless problem”. Let’s go!


#16

I hope they are renting the cities out for movie sets…


#17

This is like the opposite of Pol Pot-- instead of removing everyone from the city to return to a rural life as a twisted communist experiment they’re forcing everyone into cities as part of some failed capitalist gamble.


#18


#19

So efficient! Skipping right to the rust belt stage. No waiting the years it normally takes for industrial areas to blossom with productivity only to gradually fade into obsolescence.


#20

We heard about some of the builders of apartment blocks like these. They would be brought in from the country and offered a pretty attractive salary. Of course when they started it became clear that they would only be paid a small proportion until the building was finished. When it was finished, they were told that they weren’t going to be paid in cash, they would be given an apartment in the building that was worth that amount (or possibly enough for the deposit on the mortgage?). If they wanted the cash, they had to sell it. Of course the company could buy it back from them, but as the demand had fallen they would only be able to pay a fraction of the original value…