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Baidu Data Research Reveals China's Ghost Cities (thestack.com) 109

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese web services giant, Baidu, has embarked on a new study in which it uses location information from users' mobile devices, as well as mapping and building data, to identify areas with high volumes of construction with relatively low population densities — known as 'ghost cities.' The researchers, in the published findings Ghost Cities: Analysis Based on Positioning Data in China, were able to discount areas which experienced high levels of tourism which skew the figures in peak seasons. The Baidu Big Data team discovered 50 ghost cities, although only 20 of these were revealed in the report to avoid potential harm to the real estate market in these areas.
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Baidu Data Research Reveals China's Ghost Cities

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  • Ghostly! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:43PM (#50896591)

    Living in a ghost city gives me fast enough internet to get first post.

  • Home for refugees? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slowdeath ( 2836529 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:55PM (#50896691)

    How about relocating Syrian refugees into these unused housing units?

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @06:04PM (#50896761)
      Why would it be any different for the refugees? It's kinda like when they relocated all those dirt poor black share croppers to the projects in the 70s and then Reagan pulled the funding sending them into a perpetual spiral of poverty. Did I say 'kinda'?
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        By "the 70s" and "Reagan", you probably mean the 50's and the Department of Housing under the LBJ administration [wikipedia.org]. If anyone tried it after that, they had no excuse.

      • Regan wasn't elected until the '80s, and I'd find it hard to give him credit for the perpetual spiral of poverty, that's been a hallmark of American Democracy since forever. The land of Equal Opportunity - well, except for those kids with rich parents, they get more equal opportunities than the rest.

        • it's also when all the social programs got defunded. Reagan turned back the clock on what FDR had started. Bush Sr & Clinton continued that ( he never really cared about anything except being prez) and Bush Jr ramped it up into full gear so he could give the money to his cronies.
          • Looks flat to me, rather than decreasing [usgovernmentspending.com]. Considering that unemployment lowered during the 80s as well, I'd say a flat level of expenditures on entitlements would be expected.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          True, he was a symptom of everything going to shit and not the cause. People get confused about him because he would say something (eg. never deal with terrorist) then do the opposite (eg. massive payout to Iran over the hostages as his first thing in office FFS, then arms dealing to Hezbolla and a long list of rebels in Central America).
    • NK ones when Kim Jong Un goes to far and they all rush the border.

  • by wile_e_wonka ( 934864 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:57PM (#50896715)

    Is anyone else surprised that Baidu was willing and able to conduct and publish this study without intervention from the Chinese government?

    • And also, why is Baidu interested in this information?

    • Ghost cities are not new in China. I have seen these news every years.

      Just Google some:
      http://www.dailybrainfreeze.co... [dailybrainfreeze.com]
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        They don't mention the ghost cities that got occupied. What happened is that the population boom was slowed too well by the one-child policy. The housing growth rate continued after the population growth slowed. So there was over-build. It was also a welfare program. Rather than paying billions for people to sit at home, China's welfare program is to pay people to build things someone will need. Even Shenzhen started out as a ghost city, and is now over-crowded, with about 12M people moving there over
        • I don't think the Shenzhen example is valid, and not with the population (while some city, like Beijing is overcrowded), but I think the problem here is unbalanced development.

          Shenzhen was built when Zheng Xiaoping began modernize China, with the help of USA. There was with plenty of opportunity to develop at this time, when China was likely built from the ground up. But now, it's easy to build city, but it's much harder to create social services, move to the businesses, etc, to the newly city.
          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            But it's the same idea. A new city holding 12M people 25 years after it was founded has never happened before in the history of the planet. China has done it, and many of the ghost towns are waiting for the same thing to happen there.
            • The same? As the children were born in the era of economic boom relying on low-wage workers, one child policy, *are the same* as the children will be born in the era of two child policy and rapidly aging population, more competitive, and the economic development could not rely on cheap/low-quality products anymore?

              As I pointed out, Shenzhen was the first, and the only special economic zone at this time, may be everyone wanted to go there.

              I remember in old Oxford Headway, there's lesson about Shenzhen wa
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Nice justification for 24x7 spying on 700 million people. Couldn't they have just rented 10 cars and driven around all the cities to find the ghost cities in a month or so?

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:59PM (#50896735)

    > although only 20 of these were revealed in the report to avoid potential harm to the real estate market in these areas.

    Wow. This is a new low for capitalism. Can't reveal facts because someone might lose money if they ever came to light ! /sarcasm And here I thought only the USA had the best government money can buy.

    • This is how China operates! Only good news is reported. Bad news is not.
    • You misspelled communism.

    • And here I thought only the USA had the best government money can buy.

      Billionaire Lawmakers Ensure the Rich Are Represented in China’s Legislature [nytimes.com]
      It seems that Chinese is trying to copy USA, but "building" bigger model. They are now going to build their military structure from USA model (of course, with more soldiers), they already copied the USA highway system, but with larger road, and more lanes.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It's an old tradition with examples like the San Francisco "fire" because worries about earthquakes would drive down property values - but the realestate ghouls couldn't get the label to stick.
      Some people who want to sell stuff are scum the world over and would prefer to hide any fact that reduces a sale price. Put some of those people in government, especially a very autocratic one like China, and the obvious happens.
      There is hope though. A crackdown on corruption has been so effective that a side effect
  • Huh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:59PM (#50896737)

    Lead researcher, Guanghua Chi hopes that the study will help the Chinese government...

    And the Chinese government hopes Guanghua Chi's organs enjoy long, prosperous lives in their new [wealthy, Australian] bodies...

  • by Afty0r ( 263037 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @06:07PM (#50896803) Homepage
    "only 20 of these were revealed in the report to avoid potential harm to the real estate market in these areas" To avoid harm to a market, they are willing to withhold the truth, which potentially harms everyone who is considering purchasing (or even renting) a property in that market.
  • They will probably use these cities to house ghost armies and take over the world. Bet they got the idea from "Return of the King".

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @06:51PM (#50897133)

    I think it's been mentioned before that China is moving a lot of its rural population into cities to allow them to provide government services more efficiently, as well as create a larger consumer culture. At the same time, one of the only stable stores of wealth for Chinese is real estate. As many articles lately have mentioned, the stock market is even more speculative than ours and not suitable for long term investing. The only issue now is filling all these empty spaces so the original investors can get their money out.

    We'll see what they have in mind for this next phase, but China has been remarkably good at long term central planning. It's something missing in Western countries -- the full control of authoritarianism while doing anything necessary to grow the economy. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

    • But they also have been cutting costs alot and letting things go without good upkeep. How well thing go at full load?

    • I think it's been mentioned before that China is moving a lot of its rural population into cities to allow them to provide government services more efficiently, as well as create a larger consumer culture. At the same time, one of the only stable stores of wealth for Chinese is real estate. As many articles lately have mentioned, the stock market is even more speculative than ours and not suitable for long term investing. The only issue now is filling all these empty spaces so the original investors can get their money out.

      We'll see what they have in mind for this next phase, but China has been remarkably good at long term central planning. It's something missing in Western countries -- the full control of authoritarianism while doing anything necessary to grow the economy. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

      Rather it's been very short term thinking, doing massive infrastructure projects of only marginal usefulness in order to maintain 10% economic growth and avoid a recession for reasons of political stability.

      Do you really think they planned for massive empty cities? What do you think happens to big empty buildings? They don't hold their value.

  • Thanks for the investment advice.

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