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China's Ghost Cities

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by Kevrai, Mar 27, 2011.

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  1. Kevrai

    Kevrai FULL MEMBER

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    here is a transcript from a programme which aired on australian television talking about China's Ghost Cities.

    REPORTER: Adrian Brown





    These are satellite images of one of China's newest cities, a sprawling urban centre complete with public buildings, hotels and apartment blocks and this is the view from the ground. 11am on a Thursday morning and Zhengzhou's CBD is deserted, shops unoccupied, hundreds of apartments uninhabited.



    All the shops in this mall are empty, not that that worries the government, because they're simply more concerned with maintaining economic growth and one way of achieving that is building cities like this one. The big question, though, is how much longer all these shops and properties can remain vacant?



    But all around me, the construction of this metropolis goes on and here in the southern city of Dongguan, another example. This is the South China Mall - toy shop owner, Tian Yu Gao, is doing his best to keep his spirits up but is already after 2pm and he's yet to serve a single customer.



    REPORTER: Do you get very lonely in here?



    TIAN YU GAO, TOY SHOP OWNER (Translation): It is a bit boring looking after the shop here – there are too few customers.



    But then, slow days are what he's used to.



    REPORTER: When was the last time you sold something?



    TIAN YU GAO (Translation): Yesterday – I sold one toy. Once it took four or five days



    His shop is a rare sight in the Great Mall. The majority of this vast shopping centre remains as empty as it did when it opened six years ago. Back then, developers boasted that it would become the world's biggest shopping mall, with plans for 1500 shops that would attract 70,000 shoppers a day - the mall was heralded by the New York Times as proof of China's astonishing new consumer culture. But today, the not so great Mall of China, as it is known, is a glaring indication that this consumer culture has been grossly overestimated.



    A gondola ride through the mall lasts 20 minutes and takes you past an unsettling and almost unending vista of emptiness. For the few workers kept on to maintain this vast and now eerie complex, it is boring and lonely work and already, there are signs of creeping neglect. Even filming an empty shopping mall is a sensitive issue in China - police arrived and ordered us out but the mall is so vast, it was easy to slip back in unnoticed and just like in the city of Zhengzhou, building goes on.



    Despite repeated requests, the mall's management refuse to talk to Dateline, but Tian Yu Gao wonders if the mall may become another victim of the government's obsession with big infrastructure projects.



    REPORTER: Do you think that the South China Mall will be around in five years time?



    TIAN YU GAO (Translation): It is hard to tell, we’ll have to see what happens next year. My feeling is, they said Level Two was all leased out, if it is true and the customers come, there may be a chance, otherwise it’s hopeless.



    We're on our way to another new city, Daya Bay, a three-hour drive from the not so great mall. As you enter the city, the touts pounce and a well-rehearsed sales pitch begins.



    MAN (Translation): Inspecting properties? Two minutes from here. Have you seen any?



    WOMAN (Translation): In May we will have another site for sale in the city centre.



    Daya Bay is a city carved out of agricultural land and designed for 12 million people. That ambitious forecast, though, appears to be wildly out of kilter with reality because, according to even China's State-controlled media, 70% of these new units remain unoccupied.



    REPORTER: Is China experiencing a property bubble?



    GILLEM TULLOCH, FORENSIC ASIA: Absolutely. A property bubble like which I don't think we've ever seen.



    REPORTER: Bigger than the one in the United States?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: Yes, I think it will make the United States pale in comparison. It is said that there are 64 million empty apartments in China.



    REPORTER: 64 million?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: 64 million.



    Gillem Tulloch is a Hong Kong-based analyst who has been investigating China's residential and commercial real estate market. He maintains that there's massive oversupply and over valuation of properties right across China.



    GILLEM TULLOCH: It's essentially the modern equivalent of building pyramids. It doesn't really add to the betterment of lives, but it adds to the growth of GDP.



    And maintaining economic growth is the government's number one priority.



    GILLEM TULLOCH: It's basically happening because China is a command economy and the Chinese Government can dictate where the resources are spent.



    REPORTER: And so, if the order goes out to build, local governments build?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: That's right. If the central government a GDP target, they have to meet the target and the easiest way to do it is just to build.



    REPORTER: Isn't all this construction a good thing? It's creating jobs and getting the economy moving? That's a good thing?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: People forget that it is not the quantity of GDP that matters but the quality and essentially, they're building things for where there's no demand and so they're creating a large problem for the future.



    Prices for units here range from $70,000 to $100,000 - a fortune in a country where the average worker's annual wage is around $6,000. But units here are selling - the vast majority as investment propers whose owners live in other parts of China. The agent bundled this prospective buyer away before we could talk to her.



    REPORTER: You've come today - you've had a look around - what was your impression?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: It's pretty alarming. It's incredibly interesting - I don’t think that there are many places in the word like this. I mean, we've seen empty apartments, empty condominium projects.



    REPORTER: Do you imagine that any of these apartments will be occupied in five years?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: I think that the occupancy rate in five years will still be around 25%, but if they bring the prices down to close to zero, some people will move in.



    REPORTER: Well here’s the thing - you got millions of Chinese who, like people anywhere else, they dream of owning a home, and they can't.



    GILLEM TULLOCH: That's right - these are far too expensive for them.



    Millions of expensive empty homes and millions of Chinese who can't afford to live in them. George Jiao is one of them - his rented home lies at the end of a narrow alley in the capital of Beijing. He knows that one day soon, all this will be demolished. In its place, more upmarket condominiums like the ones that tower above his neighbourhood - a daily reminder of his own frustrated efforts to buy a home. He and his wife live in a single room off a small courtyard.



    GEORGE JIAO (Translation): 10 households, two people per household.



    There's a communal sink and toilet - there is no place for children here, which is why their daughter remains with his parents in Sichuan - they see her once a year.



    GEORGE JIAO (Translation): It’s no good, we have been working in Beijing for years, we want to but a property but prices are too high – honestly, we just can’t afford to buy. People speculating in the market have pushed prices too high – we need the government to intervene.



    George and his wife both work six days a week in a beauty parlour, their combined salaries are around $900 a month, of which a quarter goes on rent. He says owning a home should not be a dream but a basic human right.



    GEORGE JIAO (Translation): If the government considered us and provided budget housing as part of our human rights - that would be the right thing to do. I am not optimistic now, I don’t like what the government is doing.



    Zhao Gang also knows about the difficulties of home ownership, he shares a two bedroom apartment with nine other people, including a married couple. Ironically, he's a government property developer. Three men sleep in this room with Mr Zhao sharing a bed - none of which is exceptional here in China, until you remember all those millions of homes that are empty. Something he didn't want to talk about.



    ZHAO GANG (Translation): I can’t tell you my views because I work in the property sector, I know a lot about it and if I talk about it I will get into trouble.



    But trouble is looming if the lack of affordable housing continues, warns this prominent sociologist.



    PROFESSOR ZHOU XIAO SHENG, SOCIOLOGIST, PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY, BEIJING (Translation): What worries me most is polarisation, according to Deng Xiaoping, if it leads to polarisation, then our reform has failed. Right now, China is polarised – it continues to be polarised – that is a big worry.



    He fears a deepening of social divisions.



    PROFESSOR ZHOU XIAO SHENG (Translation): It is clear that polarisation will cause conflicts in society – poor people may come out and start a revolution.



    A two-hour drive from Beijing, I'm being shown a duplex with an asking price of almost $300,000. It's a development called Green Island, though it is anything but outside. From the window, a smoggy view of another old neighbourhood developers have earmarked for demolition.



    REPORTER: So this will go next?



    WOMAN: Yes.



    An unlikely prediction, considering buyers are required to pay 50% of the asking price upfront and the balance within three years. Such stringent terms, which keeps so many workers out of the market, are also the reason why China has yet to experience a US-style credit implosion.



    AGENT (Translation): This is a good place for you high-income earners, it’s quite and the environment is good.



    REPORTER: Who will come to live here?



    WOMAN: People who can afford a house in Beijing.



    REPORTER: But they haven't come yet?



    WOMAN: No.



    And only months after the first tenants moved in here, the For Sale signs and For Rent signs are already appearing. China's authorities are trying to cool their overheated economy with a series of financial controls. But there are dangers.



    GILLEM TULLOCH: It can't stay this way because we're in the upswing of a bubble, and when the bubble bursts, it will impoverish vast numbers of people.



    REPORTER: Will there be anger and disgruntlement?



    GILLEM TULLOCH: Yes, it increases the chances that you get some form of social unrest.



    MARK DAVIS: Adrian Brown reporting there. And there are more satellite photos from the report showing the scale of those cities and their empty streets on our website.



    Reporter/Camera

    ADRIAN BROWN



    Producer

    VICTORIA STROBL



    Editors

    wayne love

    NICK O’BRIEN

    CATHERINE WHELAN



    Translation/Subtitling

    KONGWO TANG



    Original Music composed by

    VICKI HANSEN





    20th March 2011


    you can watch the video on this website

    SBS Dateline | China s Ghost Cities
     
  2. below_freezing

    below_freezing ELITE MEMBER

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    Better too much empty space, than people sleeping like slumdogs on the streets of some certain cities to our south :lol:
     
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  3. Kevrai

    Kevrai FULL MEMBER

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    here is a youtube video of the documentary

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2013
  4. Kevrai

    Kevrai FULL MEMBER

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    lets cut out the troll responses aye
     
  5. StingRoy

    StingRoy SENIOR MEMBER

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    Well atleast the Chinese are 10 years ahead of the demand whereas in India we are always 10 years behind the demand.
     
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  6. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    And the Indians in the other thread, are complaining about Pakistanis posting anti-India threads.

    Meanwhile, they are doing the same thing to us. :lol:

    Such hypocrisy...
     
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  7. CardSharp

    CardSharp ELITE MEMBER

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    I'm not even sure we're suppose to be insulted. Even with the negative spin on the piece, what I am getting still is that China works by planning for the future and that it takes the long view.
     
  8. jayron

    jayron SENIOR MEMBER

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    I have seen a lot of articles about these ghost cities in western media. They are hell bent on finding something going wrong in China.
     
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  9. indianpatriot

    indianpatriot BANNED

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    it is always good to do things in advance especially if you have lots of reserves of money..waise India too has some ghost cities!
     
  10. Mech

    Mech BANNED

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    I do not understand why they attached a negative spin. Rapid infrastructure development is always good as long as the economy has the capital to sustain it. Truth be told, as an Indian , i am envious the Chinese have grown tremendously to a point hey can boast about "ghost cities". I only wish they carry out sustainable infrastructure development as much as possible without harming the environment. About the documentary though, i just think the western nations are simply jealous of this explosive growth in Asia ,whereas their economies are failing as a result of bad policy.
     
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  11. CardSharp

    CardSharp ELITE MEMBER

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    I suspect that these cities are a part of China's on-going urbanization project. There are still 700 million Chinese or ~50% living in rural areas, it is the Chinese government's goal to steadily decrease this number and get it to ~60% urbanized by the 2020's. Right now there are over-crowding problem in the bigger cities caused by rural people seeking better wages, once these cities are built and up and running (many of them are), it will help to alleviate this problem.
     
  12. OptimusPrimeRibs

    OptimusPrimeRibs FULL MEMBER

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    I had such high hopes when I read the title. :(

    Must suck to be that toy shop worker though. standing around all day in a store specifically dedicated to fun with nothing to do.

    This isn't really Anti-Chinese. Just because news reporters like the make things sad (it draws more ratings than postives,) doesn't meant that it's actually negative. I can make a story involving cute puppies given enough background music and empty food bowls.

    A paintball game would be pretty cool though. I wonder how much it'll cost me to convince them to let me do that. Think about this for a second, if we can get 1000 people to have a giant paintball gun fight, not only will it give the cleanup crew some actual work that doesn't involve a duster, but it will bring (some) buisness to the shops. People need to eat, and little trinkets and keep-sakes can be found in malls. It's genius! Someone get China on the line!
     
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  13. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 BANNED

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    I don't necessarily think there is anything negative here.

    China has created a lot of infrastructure at a breakneck speed and there has surely been an excess of it in some pockets.

    Is it planning long term, planning for the future or some other less charitable reason?

    Doesn't matter in the long term. They have developed the country in a short time and at least their infrastructure is something that is admirable.
     
  14. CardSharp

    CardSharp ELITE MEMBER

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    This is similar to my idea, except I was envisaging a revival of the gladiatorial games with real weapons. Basically you sign a waiver, build a 5 man tactical squad, and you're set loose in a empty city against other teams. The winner gets fame and fortune (and I think plenty of people are probably willing to do it)
     
  15. CardSharp

    CardSharp ELITE MEMBER

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    You and your vagaries... pray tell what is this ominous "less charitable reason" that you're speculating about.
     
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