China’s Real Estate Crisis: The Story Behind Abandoned Mansions and Ghost Cities

Taiwo Ajayi
2 Min Read

The Chinese government’s ambitious plans for real estate have taken a haunting turn, with abandoned mansions and desolate developments dotting the landscape.

The State Guest Mansions, once envisioned as opulent residences for the elite, now stand abandoned, inhabited only by roaming cattle and curious adventurers.

Initially planned by Greenland Group, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, the project broke ground in 2010 in the hills of Shenyang, about 400 miles northeast of Beijing.


However, within two years, the project came to an abrupt halt, leaving behind a haunting tableau of unfinished villas reminiscent of imitative royalty.

Today, the abandoned estates serve as makeshift shelters for farm animals, with plowed fields intended for verdant gardens now repurposed for future crops. The interiors of these mansions, once meant to exude luxury with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and intricate marquetry, now lie desolate, covered in dust and scraps of garbage.

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The State Guest Mansions are just one example of deserted developments across China, reflecting a growing real estate crisis in the country. Nearby, an abandoned high-rise complex stands as a stark reminder of projects frozen in time. Developed by China Evergrande Group, the country’s largest residential real estate developer, the complex’s bankruptcy filing in August 2023 has left it abandoned, with concrete frames and nonexistent windows.

China’s real estate crisis, exacerbated by factors such as an aging population and the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to numerous unfinished projects and skeletal communities. Developers like Greenland Group and Country Garden have faced defaults on international bonds and struggles with losses, further eroding confidence in the real estate market.

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As China grapples with the aftermath of its real estate boom, the specter of abandoned mansions and ghost cities serves as a poignant reminder of the risks and challenges facing the country’s broader economy.

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