China's Empty Cities

When I first lived in China in 2008, I learnt that not all the massive buildings around the cities have residents or tenants.  It was rather weird, to see massive buildings that seemed to have no life.

I recall going on a cruise around one city, a dusk cruise where we enjoyed the ambiance of the late afternoon with friends, but as we passed the buildings, some 40 or 50 stories high, we noticed that as the sun set there were no lights on in these buildings.  Where was everyone?  We were to learn that there were few folk living there.  Explanation?  Usually, all we would get would be a shrug of shoulders.  Our students did not know why.

There was a major shopping complex near the train station, where each day people queued in long lines that went from the building, down the stone stairs and out to the road way, especially as busy holiday periods approached, but across the road was a shopping complex with rows of empty shops.  Some looked like they had never been used!

 As we travelled around various parts of southern China one would come across this sight frequently.  I recall that there was a video about the 20 million condo's that had no one living in them.
This article might corroborate my story.

I remember speaking with a student (close friend now) about this, as she told me about the investments her family had made in real estate.  They had some apartments somewhere (I don't recall the details).  Without knowing the detail of the massive number of empty buildings, I asked if they had good tenants.  She looked at me with surprise.  "No, we don't have tenants.  They are an investment."  Their goal was to sell the apartments some time in the future for a huge profit.  If you have tenants, she added, there are maintenance costs!!  I scratched my head in amazement.

Now, if anyone has looked closely at Chinese buildings, you may notice that the standard of building is not the quality that will last long.  Are they being duped?

In recent days another story has been published about a city called Kangbashi.  Read it here.

Recently near Hangzhou, I saw new suburbs or cities being built, and again row up on row of empty apartments.  The building which I stayed in in Ningo, was also only partly filled, but the car parks were overflowing.  Many families have more than one car in the family, but the building only allowed for one car each.

It is a curious thing.  There are many homeless people, but they tend to be up around Beijing, but the excess housing is way down south.  Strange.

This Youtube Vidwo details 64 million Empty Apartments.