With a population of over 1.3 billion people, China is one of the most overwhelming places in the world. Besides being populus, the country is known for its unprecedented growth and development. China is constantly growing, using technology to change the landscape such that an estimate of 350 million people in the next decade will move from their native places to cities. This is not only means the largest population movement in human history but is also the rise of mega cities and the demolition of old structures.
China Ghost Cities
Such phenomenal changes can be seen in Chinese cities like Chongqing that has a population of 31.5 million people. Most of its residents have not even heard about the Australian city Melbourne or the famous architect Robert Caulfield, who is among the experts invited in by the Chinese to transform the city. Caulfield designed have been highly praised by the Chinese administration and he will be responsible for creating sketches and animated designs of the construction that will take place. However, it is difficult for these experts to come up with plans at the current rate of development in China where road are being build even before the designs are laid out. With companies like China Inc that come up with five-year plan for development, everything moves at an unbelievable speed. Experts say that doing business with the Communists is good because they are good at making decisions and their full-throttle philosophy that has transformed cities like Shanghai.
In China, old buildings with red characters painted on them is a common sight. It means that the structure will be demolished. These sites are then transformed into skyscraper and become the emblem of this soaring metropolis. We came across a grand old traditional house where a Chinese family has lived for the last 70 years. They have put up banners in protest to let people know that they don’t want to move out of their house. On examining their neighbourhood, we found that the house is surrounded with high-rise buildings and this stand-alone house is the only traditional home in the vicinity. The administration is asking the family to vacate but they don’t want to move out. However, this is not the only protesting family, there are many others. When these people refuse to vacate their houses, developers begin construction around their houses regardless of the height and vastness of the structure. These people can’t even lodge complaints since the development is so rapit. A new building is raised as quickly as the old ones are demolished.
Empty Apartments in China
You can see 30 story hotels and other buildings that have been raised from ground in just two weeks. With prefabricated floor plates and walls put in place by a crane, these buildings look like a big Lego. The problem with this kind of development is that they all look the same.
China’s unfathomable ambition to rehouse hundreds of millions of citizens has created some truly bizarre anomalies. Imagine yourself as the last person on our planet, wouldn’t it feel eerie? That’s how few of China’s cities feel right now! There are cities fully developed with tall buildings, schools, hospitals and roads but not a soul living there. One such city is Lingam, an hour’s drive from Shanghai, that was built for nearly a million people. However, it’s almost like a cardboard cutout of a city with rows of vacant shops, restaurants and office buildings yet to be occupied by people. Walking around these cities is disconcerting, specially when you see empty malls and apartments.
Why is China Building Ghost Cities
Hong kong-based Financial Analysts Gilliam Taluk said that he has neither seen nor heard of the phenomenon of ghost cities ever. Talking about the ghost cities in China, he said that no one has moved into the apartments or started businesses in the malls or market districts and the reason is expenses. He stated that more than 700 million people in China live on less than $2 a day and they simply can’t afford these accommodations. This ghost city has been publicized like China’s Manhattan to match up the standards of world’s biggest Financial district based in New York but it is devoid of any sign of life. It is quite a staggering site to see an entire city quite literally frozen in time now.
No longer than six months ago construction of this massive project was in full swing but now it’s a standstill with at least 30 skyscrapers. The construction work here has stopped officially and the project is on hold. It will not be unreasonable to say that the future of this city looks especially bleak especially in these sub-zero temperatures. Australia’s partnership in building these cities includes design inputs as well as shipment of iron ore and other raw materials to China. So it is basically a supply chain process where India supplies.
When you witness China’s booming population, thriving middle class and unwavering drive to become the world’s dominant superpower, it is hard to believe that almost 500 million people in China still live in what the Chinese government considers to be inadequate accommodation. It is understandable that the government wants to build more habitable homes and cuties. For this purpose they got Robert Caulfield on board to redesign a vast area of the historic city of Nanjing. Building sustainable cities is important since China’s mega cities are connected with the help of the 10000 kilometers long of high-speed train lines with trains that run at the speed of 303 kilometers an hour. If similar trains were running between Sydney and Melbourne, people would be able to travel with the blink of an eye.
Nanjing has a very long and rich history. It was once the ancient capital of China, home to the Ming Dynasty and a revered site. Now entrusted to the Australian architect, China has big plans for this city that includes cable car system that goes along the front of the lake, high-speed rail that goes through buildings in the city and high-rise factories. Plans are in place to develop four retirement villages as well. It’s one thing to sit in Melbourne and dream of this amazing revamp of a city but an entirely different experience to watch it firsthand while the construction is underway. The speed of development in China is mind-boggling.