The 2021 China Ghost Cities

ghost cities

China’s ghost cities have become a problem because they were actually built to attract people to live in them. However, these cities have “ghost towns” where the low quality of living and lack of jobs exist.

A ghost town is a town that was once full of life but is now abandoned. There are currently about 64 million vacant homes in China, which is around 20% of their housing population. The number of these China ghost cities used to be higher, but they have been growing at a faster rate than before. Nonetheless, according to research, many of these unoccupied homes are now being occupied, as more people have been moving to these growing cities and why they chose to live here.

Here is the list of china ghost cities:


A person wearing a costume

Nanyang is one of China ghost cities that has been seeing a population increase. This city was abandoned for many years, then in 2005, it got its name changed to Nanyang. Nanyang then saw an increase of nearly 300,000 people after 2010. There has been much speculation about why this city has seen such an increase in population; the most popular theory is that it’s because this city is near Beijing and Shanghai. The Nanyang municipality’s beautiful scenery may also be attracting people who want to live near nature. This theory is supported by the fact that there has been a 66% increase in green area coverage.


A view of a stone building that has a mirror on the wall

Zhengzhou, on the other hand, is seeing a population decline from the early years. Zhengzhou’s population decreased by over 40,000 people over the last few years. Zhengzhou’s decline in population is a result of a lack of job opportunities and low quality of life for its residents.

This is why it’s one of China ghost cities because it has been seeing an increase in the number of vacant homes due to its massive housing construction projects. However, recently, Zhengzhou has been seeing a growing population. Researchers suggest that the growth in population maybe because of Zhengzhou’s improved transportation leading to more jobs, which allows people to move out of poverty and into prosperity.

Kaiping Chengzhongcun

Kaiping Chengzhongcun is one of China ghost cities that was abandoned in 2002. It is located outside of Beijing and was once on the outskirts of the population. Now this area has seen an influx of young residents who are looking for cheaper housing options after loans were installed to help pay off mortgages. The reason for the influx of people is because of the cheap, affordable housing options. Many government institutions attract many migrants to this area with higher wages.

Duolun County, Xianshuihe

This ghost city was once abandoned due to its low population. This region is located in the Gobi Desert where there are few water sources. In 2002, this area saw an increase of over 50% of its population with higher quality housing that included piped-in water and electricity. This region is also seeing an influx of more people due to better transportation; there are now highways that move through this area which has made it easier for people to live here.


Shangqiu is another one of China ghost cities that was once abandoned but is now growing rapidly. This city saw a doubling in population after 2013 with the opening of a subway line, which leads commuters to work in Zhengzhou. This city is continuing to grow and expects its population to double again by 2025.


Zhengdian is a ghost city that was abandoned in 2008. This region’s population has been growing since 2006 and reached a peak in 2010 where it experienced an increase of over 20%. Zhengdian’s growth is due to the expansion of its economic and industrial production. This city is located near Zhengzhou, which gives it access to jobs. This region is also home to a sizable market for agricultural produce.


Zhenjiang has been a ghost city since 2009 and has seen a decrease in population due to its heavy reliance on heavy industry. The residents of this area live in homes that are often made out of “mud and straw” which causes people to leave this area for better housing conditions. There is also a lack of year-round freshwater sources that affect the quality of life in the area.

Changzhou Zhonglou

This is one of China ghost cities that is now experiencing an increase in population. This region is home to a large power plant, which brings residents from different regions due to the high salaries. This city is also located near Xuzhou and has experienced an increase in population because of its increased transportation.

Wendeng, Shandong Province

This ghost city was once abandoned and had a very low population, but it is now growing rapidly. Wendeng’s housing prices are high and many people cannot afford to live there. This region’s economy is focused on trade and tourism which has drawn in more residents from nearby rural areas. This city has also seen an increase in population due to an improvement in public services.

Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province

This area was once a ghost city which is now growing rapidly. This city has been experiencing growth since 2013 and its economy is driven by trade and tourism. In Wendeng’s case, many people can’t afford a house which makes it unattractive to them. Wenzhou has instead seen an increase in its population with the improvement of its public services and an increase in tourism.

This is one of China ghost cities that were once abandoned, but now are experiencing increased populations due to better transportation systems and improved public services. This urbanization is causing China’s population density to grow rapidly which has contributed to the growth of these ghost cities.

Dongying Dongwangcheng

This ghost city has seen a decrease in population. This region is home to many closed industrial parks and abandoned high-rise apartments, but the region is now seeing more people moving in. The increased population of this city can be attributed to new construction and renovation projects.

Hunan Province

Hunan Province is home to 56 towns and cities with a population of 2.9 million people; many of these towns and cities are experiencing a population decrease.

The main factor in Hunan’s “ghost city” status is that it has high GDP, but a high unemployment rate at the same time. There are three regions that make up Hunan: Wulingyuan (the technology hub), Zhejiang (the light hub), and Hanzhong (the agricultural hub). The technology hub is not experiencing growth because it has experienced layoffs, but the other two hubs are seeing growth through construction.


This city is now experiencing rapid growth with an estimated economic growth of 11-12%. Chongqing was dubbed a “ghost town” after it experienced decay due to being isolated after the Three Gorges Dam construction. Now, this ghost city is seeing new construction and renovation projects which have helped grow its population.

Reasons for a growing number of ghost cities

Education is another factor that can affect the growth of these China ghost cities.

A 2013 census found that 202 million people over the age of 15 didn’t have a high school education; this is up from 145 million people in 2002.

The literacy rate for males is 95.6% while the literacy rate for females is 81%. These rates are lower than expected because school enrollment favors males over females which could be a factor that has contributed to China’s ghost cities. This issue can also affect education, especially in rural areas due to the preference for boys over girls.

Another factor that has caused China’s ghost cities is the lack of land use due to its high population density. It would benefit this nation more if it were able to utilize its existing space so that it can save money on the cost of creating new environments.

There are many factors that have contributed to China’s ghost cities. These areas saw a decrease in population due to rapid urbanization, but they are now experiencing growth again which is attributed to better transportation systems and public services.

The solution to ghost cities

The researchers suggest that the best solution for these china ghost cities is to implement a two-pronged approach – improve the quality of living conditions and provide more jobs. This will help decrease residents’ anxieties about moving away from their hometowns, which will encourage them to move into these new areas. The research team writes, “China is trying to shift the growth model away from being driven by increasing consumption toward being driven by increasing productivity.” This suggests that there will be an increase in employment opportunities as China improves its economy.

Another study done by McKinsey & Company found that “70% of new urban jobs are expected to come from just 20 cities”. These statistics suggest that China’s ghost cities will begin to see a rise in these areas as they continue to construct more jobs for their residents.

China is in the process of creating more jobs for its residents to help decrease ghost cities. The country has already taken steps towards this goal by reducing pollution, upgrading transportation systems, and improving public services. Within a few years, China may have had fewer “ghost towns” with more opportunities available to its people!

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