ORDOS -Waiting for the ghosts-

Empty roads of A-town ordos housing complex

(ordos, rush hour)

 Lack of voices, sounds, life.

Ordos is a sprawling desert metropolis located 350 miles west from Beijing. About 90% of housing units were laying vacant in 2010.

In Shenzen live almost 8,600 inhabitants per square km. 4,300 in Tokyo. From 22,000 to 26,000 people live in Beijing’s main districts per km2 . 24,200 in Jakarta. 30,900 in Mumbai. 18 in Ordos.

With 86 752 squared kilometers Ordos is two times big ger than Switzerland.

No other questions came up to my mind but a short one: why  ?


About 10 years ago, they discovered in Ordos the third largest deposits of coal in China. Links for a modern human being are quite simple: sources, mines, money, to build. Before the discover of this huge amount of coal, this area was one of the poorest ones in China, surviving thanks to a basic wool and textiles industry. When they started mining for it, they generated immense amounts of wealth, and the default thing to do in China if you generate enormous amount of money is to build. A lot of promotions within the local government are based upon tangible results — the building of a hospital, or a school, the appearance of success. The so-called “old city” of Ordos is called Dongsheng, and it has also blown up in size over the past 10 years.

Ordos 3

(With 18 inhabitants per km2 scattered on more than 80 000 km2,

Ordos is two times big ger than Switzerland)

The consequences are obvious: huge spaces with empty buildings, projects left half finished, appliances still unused.

Everywhere, a thrust that modernity clashes with the desolation, the result of an oversupply that has never been questioned. And the most shocking thing is that chinese government still believes in Ordos.

But what is s global capitalist neoliberalism that created the China “miracle”, and when capitalism collapses, as it is doing right this moment, so too will even more of the global demand needed to prop up China’s centrally-planned system. The same thing that is happening to China and global capitalism happened when the Soviet Union collapsed under an economic system of overproduction.

Central planning doesn’t work. It doesn’t comply with natural laws of complex systems. Of course, neither does corporale capitalism. That is why they are both failing.


Alessandro Arcangeli


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