China's Phantom Urbanization and the Pathology of Ghost Cities
Journal of Contemporary Asia, Forthcoming
38 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 29, 2015
Many have remarked upon China's tendency to develop gargantuan, yet nearly empty, "ghost cities" since the turn of the millennium. Yet almost no previous scholarship examines the specific reasons why or processes through which this phenomenon has come to be. Following a thorough and critical analysis of key aspects of China's political economy that create the perverse incentives behind the excesses of its real estate boom and the growth of ghost cities, we examine two empirical case studies in detail: Kangbashi (in Ordos, Inner Mongolia) and New Beichuan (in an area of Sichuan Province devastated by a massive earthquake in 2008). We are thus able to offer both broad insights into the roots of China's phantom urbanization and a careful tracing of the specific development and effects of the pathology of ghost cities for the first time.
Keywords: China, Urbanization, Politics, Ghost Cities, Economy
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