China’s Abandoned Cities

China is the country with the highest population amounting to a total of 1,396,114,544 according to on the 12th of October 2014. The country currently tops the list of countries with the most population dwarfing the United Sates who lie in third place with a figure of  318,892,103 at the same date. With these figures China have made attempts to try and control the mass amounts of people in the country such as the famous one child per family policy.

This policy was first introduced in China in 1979 stating that citizens of the country had to acquire a birth certificate before the birth of a child and if followed citizens would reap the benefits. However, if the rules were avoided and a citizen had more than one child they may be punished b the loss of their benefits such as employment etc. or would have to pay tax which could be up to 50 percent of their income. If not followed and citizens have unauthorized birth, the child would “need” to be terminated in attempt to establish strict guidelines to their population growth. The country stepped up their efforts to monitor population growth after 1980 introducing the targets for the different regions where officials were held in charge of and were punished if they did not meet their goals by loss of their privileges. The controversial policy has had many negative impacts despite proving successful at lowering the birth rates as shown in the graph below. Many females have been left homeless or left as orphaned or worse killed with figures stating ninety percent of foetuses killed were female.


This chart shows birth and death rate patterns from 1950 to 2010 in China and the patterns can be seen where the attempts have been made to reduce the birth rate as seen where it was at its highest rate around 1965 and has steadily lowered since despite China still having problems with over population. The growth currently stands at 0.7 percent showing that it has lowered again since


However the main attempt to control their ever growing population that I will focus on are the cities which have been built to try and accommodate and ease the overcrowded regions. Kangbashi, located in the city of Ordos (located in inner Mongolia,) was initially built to accommodate over a million people at a time when coal was being exploited around the area.


New Kangbashi builds towering high left abandoned.

Image sourced from

The area is currently home to a 20,000 people which is approximately 980,000 less than what was expected leaving 98% of the 355-square kilometre mostly abandoned apart from areas which are still being built. Many miners moved into the area buying the lands of local farmers which left them with wealth. The promising plans included the buildings to house hundreds of thousands of citizens but instead the impressive new city stands abandoned where large buildings are filled with unsold flats  contributing to the current housing problems in china often referred to as the “bursting of the bubble” in China real estate where the country is currently close to being in debt of close to a trillion dollars.


The graph above shows that, from 1997 and 2008,the areas population has increased and has continued to do so making it more strange as to why the development of “China’s largest ghost town” remains eerily dormant. Part of the reasons were due to loans not being paid, construction deadlines had not been met, investors had pulled out and the accommodation prices put many off moving into the apartments. According to reports, after the disaster attempts of development, “typical housing prices in Kangbashi have fallen from $1,100 to $470 per square foot, over the last five years alone” and yet the buildings have been left abandoned despite the population statistics stating a consistent rise and China’s ongoing problems with overpopulation.


An example of the impressive architecture and money used in the abandoned Kangbashi site.

 Image sourced from

This is one of many examples of abandoned cities in the country which have not been filled despite the population figures of China such as Chenggong. Chenggong is a city which has more than 100 apartments that have no people living in them and areas with luxury villas which are unoccupied. Authorities have tried to attract people to come and settle into the city but the high rise apartment blocks remain empty. The area also consists of empty shopping malls, large abandoned housing complexes and a stadium all being part of what was meant to be an overspill area for a city nearby called Kumming which is having difficulty containing all of its six and a half million occupants.


High rise Chenggong apartments lie empty and abandoned.

 This image is sourced from

China has also had problems with retailing such as the New South China Mall located on the skirts Dongguang which is the city to 10 million citizens finished in 2005. This Chinese mall is one of the worlds largest empty shopping centre/malls where around 1,500 of its stores have been empty since the project was finished which doesn’t make sense due to it being near such a populated city in Dongguang. A theory as to why the site hasn’t been a success is because there has been suggestions that the mall hasn’t been wisely placed and not near enough to elsewhere. The mall looks impressive with a canal, windmills, replica of the Arc de Triomphe from Paris and a copy on the St Mark’s square from Venice.

Inside one of the worlds largest shopping malls.

Inside one of the worlds largest shopping malls.

Picture sourced from


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