The Ghost Cities of China

Ransom Riggs

Sometimes it seems like China's the new Texas -- everything's bigger there. The population, the infrastructure, you name it -- even the ghost towns are bigger. Actually, it's hard to call what China has ghost towns, because A) they are actually cities, and B) they are empty but not abandoned; for the most part, they've never been occupied. Can you call a place no one's ever lived in a "ghost" anything?

Still, they're creepy, and a result of China's wild building boom, which has created some 64 million homes and apartments that are unoccupied -- some because they're built in out-of-the-way places where there's not a lot of demand for new housing, but most because they're far too expensive for regular Chinese folk to buy. Add to that a spate of "ghost malls," giant shopping palaces built for a consumer spending explosion that hasn't happened yet, and you've got a country that's turning spookier (and more post-apocalyptic-feeling) by the second.

Dateline did a report on the phenomenon -- this fascinating video is the result.