Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Report on China's Ghost Infrastructure

An EPJ reader and subscriber to the EPJ Daily Alert writes:
Hi Robert,

EPJ Daily Alert subscriber here. To further your continuing and evolving story that China has major un-used infrastructure that puts loads of unsustainable debt could cause major problems, I have a little story and some pictures here that support your stance.

I’m an entrepreneur / small biz owner in Iowa in the tablet market. We contract with tablet manufacturers in Taiwan and China and I travel to Asia 5-7 times per year. In December during a visit to Shenzhen, China, the world’s hub of tablet and phone manufacturing. The mega tech companies like Foxconn and Pegatron have their massive tablet building facilities here (building iPads, iPhones, iPods, Androids) and there are dozens of other companies building tablets – mostly Android and some new Windows tablets.

Shenzhen is just inside the border into China from Hong Kong, designated as a Chinese “free trade” zone and experiencing significant growth in the past 20 years.  Visiting one company took us to the outskirts of Shenzhen, to the northwest past the expanding airport (SZX).

For about 20 miles we drove on a new and nearly EMPTY 8 lane freeway with numerous new housing projects being built along the route. We saw about a half dozen cars at most during the drive to and from the factory we visited, in mid-morning and early afternoon.

Empty highway outside Shenzhen, China.

Ghost housing outside Shenzhen, China.


  1. I read somewhere that in the central square of everyone of those Ghost cities in China lays a HSBC,a WellsFargo, a Wal-Mart/HomeDepot and/or a KFC.
    Open for business.
    Is this true?
    Here in Georgia, within five miles of my home, there are at least 3 Ghost subdivisions.
    Each one consisting of one model home and 700 acres of fully-infra-structured ............Ghost lots.
    One even has a huge clubhouse with Olympic pool..........deserted.

  2. This was my experience in Shenzhen two years ago.The center of the city was bustling, but once we got a few miles outside of the city center the activity level dropped to zero yet there were office buildings, warehouses, and residential apartment buildings everywhere. No cars parked in the massive parking lots. Not a soul in sight. Only a few scattered buses and cars on the highways as well. Plenty of construction cranes though.

  3. Yeah, it's really surprising that no-one lives in apartment buildings that clearly aren't even finished yet.

    1. I was in Shenzhen 3 years ago and those cranes were in the exact same position.

  4. China is a big house of cards. They should have had a massive recession to liquidate all of these bad investments--instead they built even more.

  5. Is this a "bridge to nowhere" pork barrel spending or monetary inflation malinvestment?

  6. At least there will be much affordable and ready housing for the coming wave of fleeing ex pats with the arising police state. Just wait until the broader of the even semi wealthy realize what's becoming of this country.