China Tried To Build A Replica Of Manhattan… And It’s Not Looking So Great


Yujiapu, in China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area, was modelled on Manhattan and expected to become the financial center of the world.

But it languishes as many wasteful Chinese ghost cities have.

At one point it was reported that the Juilliard School had signed an agreement to set up an institute in Yujiapu. And there were plans for a Rockefeller and Lincoln Center as well.

But construction in this Manhattan hopeful has ground to a halt.

According to Bloomberg’s Steve Engle and Xin Zhou, a Tianjin local-government financing vehicle (LGFV) saw its revenue fall 68% last year and about a third of its debt will mature this year.

Michael Hart, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc told Bloomberg that the local government can force some state owned enterprises (SOEs) to be the first to occupy the abandoned buildings, but that it won’t be easy to do.

“It was a failure before it even started,” Gao Fei of Centaline Property told Rob Schmitz, China correspondent for Marketplace/American Public Media.

“The most important thing for Tianjin’s government has always been a high GDP rate. That means the government has to spend a lot of money on huge projects like this one. In China, these kinds of wasteful projects are everywhere.”

Schmitz previously told Business Insider that the ghost cities don’t neatly fit into China’s urbanization plans.

Here are some images of Yujiapu from Bloomberg’s Engle.


“This 1,200 room five-star Country Garden Phoenix hotel is nothing but a shell,” says Engle. The project was expected to be finished in 2012.


It was hoped that private developers would step in but they have been slow to join.


The slowing economy has only made the Chinese ghost city problem worse.


“Construction work on Yujiapu, planned to be “the financial capital of the world,” has been largely put on hold,” according to Schmitz.

Yujiapu china ghost city

Laborers seen a construction site of a residential compound in 2012, are largely missing now.


This image from 2012 shows a proliferation of cranes when construction in Yujiapu was still booming.