KANGBASHI - EMPTY CITY
The city of Kangbashi could easily be a setting from the seminal 60s television series Twilight Zone. Picture this: A huge ongoing construction project on the edge of the Gobi desert, built for a million inhabitants where row upon row of highrise apartment buildings line empty roadways. But where are the people? A lone pedestrian or vehicle moving across this desolate urban landscape can appear very conspicuous, almost out of place. But it’s not a television show, in fact it’s very real.
In spite of its windswept desert and rolling high plain steppe, China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region is one of the nations wealthiest. Ordos City, of which Kangbashi in a huge subdivision, riding high on a resources boom over the past decade thanks to huge local coal and natural gas reserves, has benefited financially. Its citizens boast a per capita GDP of more than twice that of Beijing.
With its local government reinvesting its wealth in modern urban infrastructure and expansion, in 2003 Ordos officials designated for the development of a new district 25 kilometers south. In this new and vibrant community of Kangbashi, new construction continues despite their being so few residents.
The Chinese may well have a similar saying from its lengthy list of ancient proverbs, but the West’s ‘Build it and they will come’ may yet have some truth in Kangbashi.
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