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Inside China’s ‘ghost cities’: Photographer captures country’s massive urban developments… without an inhabitant in sight

  • Chicago-based photographer, Kai Caemmerer, travelled to China to document the eerily empty urban developments
  • The urbanisation projects are part of a larger government initiative to move 250 million citizens from rural areas
  • Currently, however, these nearly-completed cities are in the ‘interim phase,’ deserted and waiting to be occupied¬†

There are few things quite as eerie as a massive cityscape, which appears to be devoid of any inhabitants.

But, throughout China, this sight has become commonplace.

Part of the country’s larger plan to move 250 million citizens from rural to urban locations by 2026, hundreds of urban centres have been developed, but are currently sitting deserted, waiting to be occupied.


Chicago-based photographer, Kai Caemmerer, documented these so-called ghost cities after travelling to China to explore them in 2015. His series, entitled ‘Unborn Cities,’ depicts this unique urban development phenomenon.

During his trip, he photographed three locations: the Kangbashi District of Ordos, the Yujiapu Financial District near Tianjin, and the Meixi Lake development near the city of Changsha.

However, he never stayed in the empty cities themselves, but instead in nearby, populated towns.

During the span of the project, which went on for 80 days, he snapped photographs twice daily, before sunrise and after sunset.


‘Unlike many Western cities that begin as small developments and grow in accordance to the local industries, gathering community and history as they age, these areas are built to the point of near completion before introducing people,’ Kai said in a statement.

‘Because of this, there is an interim period between the final phases of development and when the areas become noticeably populated, when the buildings stand empty, waiting.

‘During this phase of development, sensationalist Western media often



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