Ghost Cities of China by Wade Shepard review – unpopulated replica towns explained

Fascinating look at how China has made this at all possible:

Once built, the newly urbanised area often stays depopulated for a few years, as it is more expensive for investors to properly fit out and let their flats, so they sit on them until – as inevitably happens – the Communist party induces businesses to move to the area, usually by opening a new branch of a university and extending a metro out to each “ghost city”; benefits, such as free transport, low rents or even a couple of years rent-free are offered and are usually effective.
So few places remain ghost cities for long. And if they exemplify a problem, it is rising inequality, rather than a precarious economy. The property bubble is unlikely to burst, as local authorities are merely one (municipal) branch of the Communist party owing money to another (banking) branch, which has no interest in making its comrades bankrupt. Milton Friedman, Shepard notes, saw Pudong, Shanghai’s Central Business District, in its early form as a ghost city, or rather a “statist monument to a dead pharaoh”. It is now one of the most bustling, populated places on Earth.