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Why are billion dollar cities being built if nobody can live in them? Ask China

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Imagine a shining new metropolis, built for half-a-million souls and inhabited by nobody. It sounds like the premise of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, but such a thing exists. In fact, dozens exist around the world. So who is building these ghost cities and why?

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's China. In the middle of the Mongolian Desert, in some of the world's most inhospitable terrain, there stands a city built for hundreds of thousands of people. Complete with high-rise apartments, office buildings, shopping malls, even museums. Yet, not one single room is inhabited. The streets are as deserted as an old west ghost town. 

And this scene is repeated not only across China but now around the world. The latest example is Nova Cidade de Kilamba in Angola, Africa. 

Built for 500,000 people, the city has less than a few hundred inhabitants, mostly Chinese workers sent to build the city. 

What's going on?

China is building cities as a store of wealth and as a means of spreading their power and influence around the world. The projects may seem like busywork, but they bring money into China's economy and they keep Chinese laborers working. More importantly, when built in other countries, they help forge relationships between the Chinese government and other nations. 

The people of those nations may not enjoy the housing benefits, but China wins big, especially with long-term loans and trade deals. After all, China is raking in billions buying US debt. That money is best invested elsewhere and where better to invest than the developing world now the west seems to have lost its edge.

The apartments in Nova Cidade de Kilamba cost about $100,000 but the average Angolan worker earns about $2 per day. The whole arrangement still benefits both governments. 

The basic process is reminiscent of 19th century European colonialism. Raw materials are harvested in Africa and shipped to China. That creates jobs in Africa. In China the materials are processed into finished goods, then shipped back. Once there, Chinese and African workers build cities or work on other projects that consume the finished goods. The end result isn't so much a habitable city as it is jobs and money flowing through the economies of all nations involved. 

China was once a bastion of communism, but years of efforts on behalf of the US and other western nations have introduced the benefits of capitalism to the Chinese. Now the Chinese appear to be beating the west at its own game, enjoying one of the most long-term sustained periods of economic growth and prosperity in modern history. 

Combine this with China's long term relationships with Africa and other nations and an effort to get countries to use the yuan instead of the dollar, and China is shaping up to be a direct economic rival of the US. 

African markets are already flooded with cheaply made Chinese goods - much like in the US and Chinese workers are being outsourced to the third world as skilled labor. This is a niche that once belonged to the US and other western powers, now it is being dominated by the equally skilled, but cheaper Chinese.

Building ghost cities are just another part of a much larger scheme to move Chinese money, and power around the globe. Today ghost cities are a novelty to be searched for on Google Earth. Given things as they are now, tomorrow they will stand as harbingers of a new world order where China is the economic powerhouse rather than the US. 

 

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