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China’s Ghost Cities In 2018 Video

The full ABC News ghost cities interview.

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I was recently interviewed about China’s ghost cities for Australian television (watch it here) and the bulk of our conversation did not — of course — make it into the final piece. I did the filming for the interview myself so I decided to put it together and publish it on my YouTube channel. Why not?

I really miss making videos. I had to put it off for a while in order to focus on some other projects. However, my work on Sarah’s Atlas of New Cities is close to being finished — only an intro for the China section and a foreword to go — and one of my main publication outlets … well, they’ve undergone some major changes and …. I won’t go into that here but I will say that I believe I will have some more time to do more work in video soon.

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Filed under: China, China’s Ghost Cities, Vlog

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

6 comments… add one

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  • Marilyn Salisbury August 17, 2018, 7:11 pm

    Hi Wade,

    I found your videos very interesting about the Ghost Cities.

    I just returned from Mongolia, and even though Ulaanbataar is the biggest city, the capital, I was shocked by what I saw — amazing amount of construction going on, even more than in New York City, where I live; numerous very tall upscale housing complexes — cranes everywhere! I kept wondering who was going to live in these expensive apartment/condos; I asked people from there and no one had the answer. Maybe you know.

    By the way, I’m a good friend of Pat Sheffield’s!

    Best to you,


    P.S. I was in Beijing, too, and loved it there! I definitely want to go back.

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    • Trevor August 18, 2018, 9:18 pm

      Hi. lots of highrises going up in Tanah Rata aka Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. all standing empty since ages. i come from a new city too. in UK.

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    • Wade Shepard August 19, 2018, 2:16 am

      Hello Marilyn,

      Yes, UB is one of the fastest growing cities in the world right now. China’s moving some capacity in but it’s also not clear to me that significant demand can be created at any point in the near future. China is a special case because the government can directly influence (order) where a large percentage of the country’s companies go … as well as institutions like universities or government offices. So there is nothing about their new cities that revolve around market economics. They can pretty much populate them at the push of a button. Countries like Mongolia or Malaysia though are a little different. They don’t have this power.

      Excellent that you’re a friend of Pat’s. She’s incredible.

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  • Pat September 30, 2019, 3:32 am

    Do you think these ghost cities are maybe standing by for sea level rise?
    Are these cities generally on higher ground?
    Are the Chinese counting on global warming and have ready made lifeboats for millions?

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    • Wade Shepard September 30, 2019, 11:07 am

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I do not believe this is the case. Many have been built in coastal areas and would be the first to be flooded. Also, the residential units in these cities generally have owners — they are not infrastructure that the gov owns and is hanging onto waiting for a crisis. Another reason is that the buildings in these new cities generally have a lifeline of 30 to 50 years, so by the time sea levels rise significantly they would have been rebuilt multiple times over.

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