Ordos – China’s Modern Ghost Town

Known as the “empty city”, the Kangabashi district of Ordos was designed as a home for over 1 million Chinese, but it remains nearly uninhabited. What makes this even stranger is the fact that we’re talking about the second richest settlement in China.

Once just another a poor town in Inner Mongolia, Ordos boomed in 2003, thanks to its immense coal and natural gas reserves. The area surrounding Ordos has one sixth of China’s coal reserves and one third of its natural gas reserves. As was to be expected, the government couldn’t resist the temptation of starting lavish projects in the area, and the building of Kangabashi district is one of them.

Ordos has the second per-capita GDP in China, after Shanghai, and the government tried to convince locals to invest their money closer to home, rather than some place else where it couldn’t benefit the community. The old town was greatly expanded, and a new district was built from scratch. The new Kangabashi district was supposed to become home to around 1 million Chinese, but so far most of its buildings remain empty.

But despite being a modern-day ghost town, the Chinese government considers new Ordos to be a success. And for good reason, since the main purpose of the Kangabashi district was to make coal businessmen buy new property in the area. In that concern Kangabashi is indeed a success, because all the homes and offices in the new district are sold out. It’s just that no one lives in them.

It may seem strange that no one wants to move in the new, improved district of Ordos, especially since the homes here don’t look half bad. But, considering Kangabashi is located 25 kilometers from old Ordos, it’s pretty easy to understand why families of coal workers are reluctant to leave their homes and move to a new location. Some will call this peculiar situation the result of a planning error, but authorities had their reasons for choosing such a distant location for the new district. Old Ordos has a very serious water shortage problem, and the Kangabashi district is much closer to water sources, as well as to another prosperous coal mining town, Yulin.

Until the government finds a way to convince people to move to new Ordos, and companies to open their business here, this brand new town will remain a modern day ghost town.






Photos via TIME

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