China’s (Vacant) City of the Future

Launched several years ago as a massive public works project near Ordos, a wealthy coal-mining town in Inner Mongolia, today, China’s “City of the Future” remains mostly empty despite being originally designed to house, support and entertain a population the size of San Diego, California.

So much for believing that “if you build it, they will come.”

Still, it’s fantastically impressive that in just five short years the Chinese could build an immense city filled with office towers, commercial districts, administrative centres, government buildings, museums, theatres and sports fields — not to mention acre on acre of subdivisions overflowing with middle-class duplexes and bungalows. It really staggers the imagination when you consider the snail’s pace at which development moves in this country.

13 Comments

Filed under China

13 responses to “China’s (Vacant) City of the Future

  1. Not that suprising, if you consider the reality that China is a One-Party Dictatorship.

  2. I know that, but the achievement still seems almost miraculous.

  3. Ron S.

    The acheivement is miraculous but for what? A vacant city? Useless waste of money don’t you think? Thankfully we don’t have a one party system and we do have checks and balances. Unfortunately Harper, Crusty in BC and their crews are systematically eroding our checklists in favour of the Chineese model.

  4. Ron S.

    Spelling mistake, I meant Chinese.

  5. Craig Chamberlain

    I think you are missing RT’s point, which is that the Chinese have a confidence and an imagination for what is possible, which we seem to have lost. While they are thinking beyond big and are doing the impossible, we are struggling to hold onto what we have. It will have been a year by the time my municipality replaces two adjoining cement sidewalk pads that were removed for ulitity work in front of my house, and only after “some” pushing from me.

    Google: “Workers build a footpath around the vertiginous slopes of Shifou Mountain in China” and check out the photos. A good example of RT’s point.

  6. Pretty easy to do in a Command System. I don’t think the developers worried about zoning issues. The Nazis’ building programme was audacious too !

  7. Craig Chamberlain

    Confidence. Imagination. Throw in: forward thinking, whether or not it’s your type of thinking. Surely we could stand to benefit from some right now?!

  8. Ron: Granted, this does seem like an extreme example of putting the cart before the horse, but it’s still impressive in terms of the scale and speed at which things can be constructed in China. Thing is that massive infrastructure projects are taking shape all over that country – many of them far more intelligently and strategically conceived of than this particular one.

    As for Harper, et. al, systematically moving to the “Chinese model” that is a million miles away from the truth and you know it.

  9. Craig: Thanks for your comments. That is exactly the kind of sentiment I was trying to capture but failed to articulate.

  10. Craig Chamberlain

    (Of course our investments are different and better. Jealousy meet hypocrite, hypocrite, meet jealousy.)

  11. D.I.D.

    One of the reasons that this city lies vacant is that real-estate speculators bought up much of it.

    Highly ironic that a one-party state that venerates Marx and still officially preeches “class struggle” to the masses has become the most out of control and unrestrained capitalist society of the age.

  12. I’m not sure how much Marx and other icons of the Communist era are widely venerated anymore in China, other than perhaps as cultural artifacts of a bygone era, or whether “class struggle” is actively promoted by the authorities (I doubt it, as that would be destabilizing to the state), but the transformation of the country since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms 30 odd years ago into what they like to call the “socialist market economy” is most definitely an ironic twist of fate.

  13. Mario LaPointe

    It only demonstrates excessive waste of global resources that are not infinite and if we continue as a race to spend our biological capital at such a careless rate like building cities that are vacant just to say we can only adds to the exponential degradation of our planet.

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