April 20, 2024

A Ghost Town of Abandoned Chinese Megacities Now Left to Rot

  • Chinese farmers have moved into a cluster of abandoned villas in China to grow crops and raise cattle.
  • Farm animals can be seen roaming around the weakened development, per AFP.
  • “Only ghosts can live here!” wrote one person on Weibo similar to China’s Twitter.

An abandoned town full of half-built villas in northeast China has found a new lease of life – farmers have occupied it and started using the abandoned land to grow crops and raise cattle, according to the AFP.

Chinese property giant Greenland Group broke ground on the State Guest House project in a suburb of Shenyang back in 2010, according to the AFP. The exclusive development in north-eastern China’s Liaoning province was meant to house 260 European-style villas for the city’s super-rich.

The Greenland Group planned to build 260 European-style villas as part of theirs "Guest Mayors of State" project.

The Greenland Group planned to build 260 European-style villas as part of their “Guest-Mansion” project.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



The project was abandoned two years later, according to the AFP.

The Greenland Group abandoned his "Guest Mayors of State" project just two years after breaking ground on development in 2010.

The Greenland Group abandoned its Guest House of State project just two years after tackling the development in 2010.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



The half-built houses are now overrun by local farmers, who plow the land and plant crops on the overgrown lawns of the abandoned houses. The lonely houses stand, unfinished and unpainted, like crumbling tombstones dotting the wasteland.

Local farmers now plow on the land of the abandoned development.

Local farmers now plow on the land of the abandoned development.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



The ghost town is not home to multi-millionaires – instead, its inhabitants include a variety of cattle and livestock that roam outside the European-style villas.

Cattle can be seen roaming between the half-built mega-villas.

Cattle can be seen roaming between the half-built mega-villas.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



The interior of the buildings also looks post-apocalyptic, like shots straight out of “The Last of Us.” The models that show what this development was all about – a lush parade for China’s nouveau riche – are still housed in a now decaying housing sales building on the sprawling property.

The models of the housing estate meant that this development would still be located in a housing sales building that is now deteriorating on the sprawling property.

The models of the housing estate meant that this development would still be located in a housing sales building that is now deteriorating on the sprawling property.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



A farmer named Guo, 45, who has moved into the ghost town, told AFP that the development was probably abandoned “because of official corruption.”

“They cut off the funding and cracked down on uncontrolled developments, so it was left half-finished,” Guo told AFP.

“These houses would sell for millions, but the rich didn’t even buy one,” Guo said.

These half-built villas have also attracted the attention of some people on the Chinese social media platform Twitter, Weibo. Some Weibo commenters asked why the government had not done anything about it, or taken the land.

“This place has been abandoned for years,” wrote one Weibo user.

“Only ghosts can live here!” said another Weibo user.

Shenyang’s ghost villas are just one of many “rotten” real estate projects across China’s urban landscape

The interior of an abandoned housing sales building.

The interior of an abandoned housing sales building.


Jade Gao/AFP via Getty Images



There are abandoned buildings that common eye sorrow in China.During the The fall of Evergrandethe real estate giant has put construction on many of its projects after facing a monumental debt crisis.

This has prompted fears from the Chinese government that progress on large-scale projects occupying a lot of urban land will be halted. Eternal sovereign it has more than $300 billion in debt, and in October 2021 it was the most indebted company in the world.

And it wasn’t just the Evergrande implication that put China’s real estate projects at risk of never being built. People who are buying real estate, or shopping for their first homes in China, are at risk of running out “rotten-tail houses,” developments that are abandoned midway through construction.

Social media sites like Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, have many people’s videos squatting in abandoned apartment buildings. In some videos, people can see moving their bed frames into half-built flats, and cooking their meals in makeshift kitchens, with no alternative but to live in unfurnished units.

When abandoned en-masse, like the Shenyang State Mansion, these mega-developments can turn into ghost neighborhoods—or, worse, ghost cities.

Li Gan, professor of economics at Texas A&M University and director of the China Household Finance Survey and Research Center at Chengdu Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, told Insider in October 2021 that “ghost cities are a unique Chinese phenomenon.” Due to a mismatch between falling demand and oversupply, these abandoned developments have sprung up all over China.

“They took too much supply, and then they sold it. And that’s why you see the vacancies,” said Gan Insider.

Representatives for the Greenland Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside normal business hours.

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