A large part of China’s current economic might is its unrelenting desire to build as many ‘mega cities’ as possible.
The construction of such zones has a tremendously positive impact on the economy. In the short term jobs, small businesses and manufacturing all flourish round the building sites. There’s just one problem, once the cities completed – few are choosing to stay and live in them.
Take Tianduchenga, a “mega city” built in 2007 near Hangzhou the capital of China’s Zhejiang province. To attract tourism into the area, a replica of the Eiffel Tower was constructed and placed in the centre of the city itself.
Surrounding the 354ft structure are countless Parisian town houses, a replica of the fountain from the Palace of Versailles and faux-French architecture.
All in all, the area of the “French zone” spans and incredible 31 km2. The city can hold around 10,000 residents. But 9 years on it is a virtual ghost town with only 2,000 residing in Tianduchenga itself.
It doesn’t end there either, around 700 mountains in the Lanzhou New Area were flattened to make way for a new 130,000 hectare metropolis.
The alarming pace of urbanization doesn’t seem slowing down any time soon. China has constructed around 500 of these empty urban landscapes since the cultural revolution took hold in 1978.
The Chinese government points to the fact that by 2020 1 in 8 people will move from rural China to live in a city. The theory is “build them now, move in later”. The question remains though, if they will be willing to move at all.
Until then these ghostly mega cities will stand largely uninhabited. Each awaiting the oncoming wave of first home buyers and those seeking a better quality of life.