Satellite Pictures of China’s Ghost Cities

CHENGGONG already has 100,000 new apartments with no occupants

China plans to build 20 cities a year for the next 20 years. The unacknowledged problem is finding buyers for those hundreds of millions of new homes.

Last year we published images of ghost cities  based on a report from Forensic Asia Limited. This week we asked analyst Gillem Tulloch what has happened in the past six months.

CHENGGONG has two new universities. Both of them look empty

“China built more of them,” Tulloch said. “China consumes more steel, iron ore and cement per capita than any industrial nation in history. It’s all going to railways that will never make money, roads that no one drives on and cities that no one lives in.”

“It’s like walking into a forest of skyscrapers, but they’re all empty,” he said of Chenggong.

Tulloch described a recent visit to a fishing village near Hong Kong, where new apartments are selling for up to $80,000. “People there were joking that no one in Denaya could afford to live there,” he said. If these apartments sell at all, it is to speculators.

CHENGGONG is building skyscrapers by the hundreds

Dozens of new developments in JIANGSU with nary a car

Brand new, empty houses outside JIANGSU


Another empty development outside JIANGSU


Expensive lakeside condos in QIANDAOHU were bought by speculators. No one lives there

Several years ago, a company from Hangzhou, China took me on a sightseeing trip to 1000 Island Lake, which is not far from Hangzhou. They showed me a residential development that looked every bit like it came from Southern California. It was in absolutely pristine condition in every way. The houses were fabulous. The view of the lake was magnificent. The odd thing was, there were no cars, no people anywhere. This beautiful town was built with the expectation by the individual owners of each property that they would sell their property in the future at a profit, but none of them wanted to live there themselves because it was too far from where business was conducted. So, it was pure speculation and investment risk. I have no idea if anyone moved into that town yet or not, but it would certainly be a nice place to retire to.

Already twice as big as Los Angeles, CHANGSHA is expanding rapidly to the east and the west

Here’s one of the giant empty developments outside CHANGSHA
China’s most famous ghost city, ORDOS, has been empty for years

Empty houses in ORDOS

More empty houses in ORDOS — with a luxury development in the upper right
No cars in ORDOS, except for those parked at the glamorous government center
China is putting $19 billion into ZHENGZHOU NEW DISTRICT — a megacity with 2 financial centers and 15 universities
ZHENGZHOU NEW DISTRICT is filled with glamorous public buildings

ERENHOT was built in the middle of a desert in Inner Mongolia
Half of ERENHOT is empty, the other half is unfinished

ERENHOT even has a luxury hotel



See that orange area to the north-east of the Xinyang?


It’s a giant new development, which doesn’t yet have a name


No cars in the city except for around 100 clustered around the government headquarters


The city of DANTU has been mostly empty for over a decade


In most neighborhoods of DANTU, there are no cars, no signs of life


An empty neighborhood in DANTU

Another empty neighborhood in DANTU

The mostly empty city of BAYANNAO’ER, which boasts a beautiful town hall and World Bank-sponsored water reclamation building

Finally, here’s a picture of the unprecedentedly huge NEW SOUTH CHINA MALL — which has been 99% empty since 2005