Tag Archives: Wade Shepard

Ghost cities of China

Shepard, Wade (2015) . Ghost cities of China : the story of cities without people in the world’s most populated country. Zed Books, 192 p. (Asian Arguments). ISBN : 978-1-7836-0219-3

9781783602193Over the next couple of decades, it is estimated that 250 million Chinese citizens will move from rural areas into cities, pushing the country’s urban population over one billion. China has built hundreds of new cities and urban districts over the past thirty years, and hundreds more are set to be built by 2030 as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. As China redraws its map with new cities, it isn’t just creating new urban areas, but also engineering a new culture and way of life. Yet, many of these new cities, such as the infamous Kangbashi and Yujiapu, stand nearly empty, construction having ground to a halt due to the loss of investors and colossal debt.

In Ghost Cities of China, Wade Shepard examines this phenomenon up close. He posits that the shedding of traditional social structures in the country is at an advanced stage, and a rootless, consumption-centric globalized culture is rapidly taking its place. Incorporating interviews and on-the-ground investigation, Ghost Cities of China examines China’s under-populated modern cities and the country’s overly ambitious building program.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Nanhui city

A Journey to Nanhui, China’s Ghost City on the Coast
By Wade Shepard, Blog Vagabond Journey, Published on June 20, 2014

The first thing that many visitors to Shanghai will see is a ghost city. If you look down out of the window when flying into Shanghai’s Pudong airport from the south, right at the point where Hangzhou Bay and makes landfall, you will see a nose-like protrusion of land sticking out into the water. On the tip of this nose is a strange assemblage of concentric circles radiating out from a perfectly circular lake. If you hear your fellow air passenger’s exclaiming, “What is that place!?!” their reaction is appropriate: no other city in the world looks like Nanhui. As you curiously peer down you will not see many people, cars, or signs of life. This is not because the people are hiding, it’s because they’re not there yet. Nanhui is another of China’s full scale new cities that are being built from scratch, ever expanding the frontiers of urbanization.

(…) This circular city, which formally went by the names Luchao Harbor City and Lingang, is a $5.6 billion satellite development 60 km from the core of Shanghai in the far southeastern corner of Pudong. It was built for one reason: to serve as an urban center to support the nearby Yangshan Free Trade Zone, which includes the Yangshan Deep Water Port and the Lingang Industrial Zone. The economic sparks caused by these catalysts are expected to eventually bring 800,000 people into Nanhui by 2020, turning it into a commercial and tourism epicenter on an otherwise uneventful coastline. (…)

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Watch the video to get a better look at this place


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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