Built in a breakneck five years, Kangbashi is a state-of-the-art city full of architectural marvels and sculpture gardens. There's just one thing missing: people. The city, built by the government and funded with coal money, its chief industries energy and carmaking, has been mostly vacant for as long as it has been complete, except for the massive municipal headquarters. It's a grand canyon of empty monoliths. In a paradox only possible in today's economic system, Kangbashi manages to be both a boom town and a ghost town at the same time.
Kangbashi represents a particularly destructive economic force at work in China today: an obsession with GDP that ignores all other metrics of progress or human capital.
Officials (...) say the population reached 50,000 last year, which seems improbable given that pedestrians on the street were outnumbered by street sweepers.