Deserted streets, unfinished high-rises, and uninhabited apartment complexes characterize China’s “ghost cities,” built solely to stimulate economic growth. While sleek and prestigious, these ghost cities, like Kangbashi in Inner Mongolia, lay abandoned, failing to attract anyone except foreign reporters due to soaring property prices.
But the highly publicized “ghost cities” of China are not the only frivolous and extravagant construction projects in China.
Here are 5 of the most wasteful construction projects in China in recent years.
1. A Pharmaceutical Palace
Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Sixth Pharm Factory, a state-owned company, constructed a luxurious Versailles-like interior in its headquarter building with crystal chandeliers and gold-plated walls as an art museum featuring wood block printing. Internet users quickly criticized the extravagant waste of taxpayer money.
2. An Abandoned Train
In an underdeveloped town in Henan Province, officials invested $1.3 million in 2010 on a replica steam-powered train and rail line to evoke the nostalgia of locals and stimulate the economy with tourism. But the sight-seeing train track does not actually pass through any sights worth seeing. Locals told China News that the train used to run occasionally, but nobody wanted to ride it. Now, it sits there, forgotten and neglected.
3. A Bridge Built Purposely on the Widest Part of the Bay
Qingdao’s Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is the largest ocean span bridge in the world at 26.4 miles, but not because it has to be. Although breaking records, the bridge is built along the widest section of the bay, and serves pretty much the same function as a pre-existing highway that runs parallel to the bridge. Furthermore, it only shortens the trip by about ten minutes, while charging significantly higher prices. Thus, the costly construction endeavor sees little traffic.
4. An Olympic Stadium—But No Olympics
In Loudi, Hunan Province, the city authorities evicted dozens of farmers without proper compensation and borrowed $185 billion to build a huge 30,000 seat “Olympic” stadium in a city with neither a professional sports team nor a scheduled Olympics in the near future.
5. Canals That Don’t Transport Water
China’s enormous South-North Water Diversion Project was designed to transport billions of cubic meters of freshwater from the Yangtze River to the northern part of China, but the project has deteriorated into a colossal failure and a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. Costing nearly $80 billion, it is one of the world’s most expensive infrastructure projects.
Due to slow flow rate and other structural issues, the canal transfers less than 5 percent of the target of 10 billion tons of water per year. After taking into consideration all the costs involved in pumping the water, the water that does arrive in the north is so expensive, no one wants to buy it.