Admittedly, you can hardly compare the following cities with the megalomania of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
This is not Detroit 20 years after the heydays. These cities are supposed to be “ideal”, which are about to start growing. To some degree there is similarity with Scientology. I cannot phrase it in words, because it is far-fetched. Still, it makes me think.
I would love to live in one of these Chinese cities. They are attractive. It is just the circumstances that make moving there impossible.
- I don’t speak Chinese
- my family is not nearby
- the political environment does not guarantee freedom of speech
But see: This is the Eiffel Tower … IN CHINA!!!
I see potential for China’s ghost cities. They have the political power to get these projects done. But Miscavige hasn’t got this power. As I said … somehow similar and far-fetched at the same time.
“This place is like a child – it’s in a development phase,” Wang says. “But it’s chasing an ideal. It’s the kind of place where people can come to pursue their dreams.”
- By the time the city is complete – probably by 2020 – it should accommodate 350,000 people over 30 square kilometres. Five years into the project, however, only about three sq km have been completed, housing 6,000 permanent residents.
- Last month, China announced its new urbanisation plan, a massive feat of technical and social engineering which will move more than 100 million country-dwellers into cities over the next six years. The question is how. China’s current development model has proved environmentally disastrous; ghost cities and towns have triggered fears of an impending real-estate meltdown.
- “It’s already proving to be successful, because it’s still building.”
- Yet while the developer claims that more than 1,000 companies have registered in the city, many storefronts on its main shopping plaza stand empty; two frozen escalators lead to a mostly-vacant upper floor. In the middle of the afternoon its few occupants – a noodle joint, a coffee shop, a Japanese restaurant advertising “suisi”– are padlocked. Although the city’s first food market opened last November, it’s still limited to a few well-stocked produce stalls. The massive space echoes like a gymnasium.
- There’s already a near deserted replica of Paris complete with its own Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees, while even levelling a range of 700 mountains can’t stand in the way of another vast new conurbation. With China’s population and prosperity growing at a rapid rate, Adrian also asks an expert if it’s all good urban forward planning or an economic bubble that’s about to burst.
- Ordos is one of the most famous ghost cities. Closer inspection shows its massive scale, but the lack of cars on the streets.
- But perhaps there is method in this construction madness. China says it needs to move more than 400 million people from the countryside into the cities in the next 10 years. No country in the world is witnessing urbanisation of this size. It’s a social experiment on a grand scale.
- 700 mountains levelled
More than 700km to the south, the welcome could not have been more different. The officials behind Lanzhou New Area, a new city being carved out of the mountains of Gansu Province, seemed overjoyed to receive us.
- Two years after visiting some of China’s most infamous ghost cities and malls, Australian reporter Adrian Brown revisited them for SBS Dateline, to see if they had changed. His tour of Tianducheng, the Paris replica that we reported on; the South China Mall; and Kangbashi in Ordos, China’s most famous ghost city, showed that they were still empty.
- Tom Miller, a Chinese urbanization expert told Brown, it’s as though Chinese officials “basically draw a circle on a map and they build it, and then they expect people to go and move in.” The “gamble” is that cities might be empty now, but they will be filled up later, an argument Stephen Roach has previously made.
Back to Scientology:
And fueling their growth is “money”. Money, that allows their leaders to buy property, often with the intention of isolating their group from society. If a group is living together on a piece of land – which we know – then tend to call a compound, it’s easier for the cult leader and and his or her lieutenants to control everybody.