2012's Top Emblems of Chinese Overbuilding

To keep its slowing economy humming, China continues to pump colossal funds into infrastructure projects. With massive stimulus spending comes massive inefficiencies. Naomi Rovnick selects China's most wasteful infrastructure projects of 2012.
December 14, 2012, 11am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Since 2008, stimulus spending on infrastructure has been one of China's key policies intended to kickstart job creation and boost GDP growth, while continuing the country's rapid urbanization and modernization. While some efforts, such as the rapid expansion of urban and intercity transit, have been laudable, there's also been some truly head-scratching initiatives such as the ghost cities of Ordos in Inner Mongolia and Chenggong, in the southwestern province of Kunming.

Despite these notable missteps, "the bizarre hilarity of Chinese overbuilding never stops," says Rovnick. "City governments have GDP targets to hit and social projects to pay for. So they sell land to property developers to build skyscrapers, and the construction keeps citizens employed. Lots of cities believe they too can be the next Shanghai. And the easiest way to upset a planning official is to suggest that if every province in China has a new financial centre, there may not be enough investment banks and law firms to fill all the space."

From a $4.8 billion propaganda theme park in Tibet to a $3.5 billion Chinese-built housing development in Angola, Rovnick highlights four projects from the last year that demonstrate the "neverending vaudeville show" continues.

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Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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