Chinese city being built from scratch

Lisa Martin
AAP, as published in Sky News, 24 October 2014

It’s a children’s Lego fantasy land on steroids.

An architectural model scale of a future Chinese city, which one million people will call home by 2030, stretches out over an Olympic swimming pool sized area.

The master plan is a fairy grotto with flashing lights representing traffic grid lock weaving through streets of apartment towers, across bridges and around mammoth sports stadiums.

Sha Yankun, the Dalian-Puwan New District Economic Development Bureau’s vice director, proudly points out where the artificial snow topped mountain ski field will be located.

The 412sq/km site is situated 70km from the coastal city of Dalian.

The development is waiting on central government approval.

Once that’s ticked off, the mixture of government and private investment will send in the bob cats.

Construction of the 10 billion Renminbi ($A2 billion) stage one, a 40sq/km section, is expected to be complete by 2020.

A whopping 8700 companies are already set up in the zone and there’s 400,000 residents so far.

The main industries include petrochemicals, car makers, textile manufacturing and food processing.

The city building plan is just one of 10 across China.

Officials from the Dalian Development and Reform Commission branch are adamant the region’s economy is strong enough to prevent the property market from overheating.

They are also quick to emphasise the area’s relatively clean air and natural environmental credentials compared to other smog choked parts.

But for some second and third tier Chinese cities, there are signs of property market woes and apartment gluts taking hold.

In Dalian itself, a city of six million people, cranes proliferate the sky line next to half finished luxury towers.

Maserati and Lamborghini car dealerships appear almost as common as western fast-food chains.

The city’s centenary monument, a skate-ramp like concrete square which represents an open book, is packed with well heeled locals posing for selfies with expensive gadgets.

Forget saying cheese’ – a local joke here stipulates that when posing for happy snaps one must say ‘I have money’ in Mandarin (Wo you qian) because it makes you smile properly.

This article was originally published here.

Lisa Martin was in China for the China Australia Journalist Exchange 2014.