Another China ghost city filled


Back in April I published an article, China’s largest ghost cities filled, providing an ‘eyes on the ground’ report from Wendell Cox, co-author of the Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey, who was touring China at the time. Wendell had provided photographic evidence showing that one of China’s famed ‘ghost cities’, Zhengzhou New District, was in fact a well occupied and fully funtioning city.

Now Wendell is back, this time debunking the below satelite photo recently published in Business Insider showing large tracts of construction to the North East and West of Changsha, Hunan – a city twice the size of Los Angeles – lying vacant:

Here is an extract from Wendell Cox’s article published in New Geography a few days back:


Changsha, Hunan: Changsha is the rapidly growing capital of Hunan province, adding nearly 50 percent to its urban districts between 2000 and 2010 (even greater growth than in the US growth leaders, Las Vegas and Raleigh). The Business Insider article displays a satellite image showing huge areas of construction both to the northeast and to the west of the urban area.

When planning a 2009 trip to China, I chose to visit Changsha because of the extensive construction shown in this very same satellite image. In my continuing satellite image research on urban areas, especially relating to Demographia World Urban Areas, I noted that this appeared to be the most extensive construction in the nation. A number of photographs are included in our Changsha Rental Car Tour, which were taken in September 2009.

On a rainy and quiet Sunday afternoon I took a tour of the northeast construction area and found that much of the construction had been finished. Moreover it was obvious from both the traffic and the open shopping centers and shops that this was anything but a “ghost city” (see photograph, above).

The next day I took a similar trip to the western construction area. As in the northeast, much of the construction was complete and the communities were alive.

[email protected]

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.