If I had a list of the 100 most peculiar places on earth to visit, then the Yujiapu Financial District in China would rank highly on it at least for now. Yujiapu (Chinese: 于家堡金融区; pinyin: Yújiāpù Jīnróng Qū) is a textbook case of urban planning getting ahead of itself. In this instance, a 3.8 square kilometre urban development reminiscent of New York’s Manhattan is rising through the river mist in the middle of an industrial area.
Yujiapu Financial District: The Manhattan Project
Yujiapu Financial District is a low-carbon demonstration city, 40 kilometres from the Tianjin city centre, and 150 kilometres from Beijing. It is part of China’s ‘build it and they will come’ attempt to decentralise, although the cranes have become less active since the world recession began to bite, and from what I have heard many are standing still.
Yujiapu Railway Station
Yujiapu Railway Station on the line between Beijing and Tianjin is a showpiece set in newly forested surroundings, planned to offset the effects of carbon from the development. This showpiece structure beneath a low profile single-layer steel shell roof shelters five basement levels, and yes, the trains do arrive and leave perfectly on time even if there is no one to.step on or step off in this Ghost City.
Railway Station Platform
There is just one tiny problem: The project has gone over budget with the some saying, ‘Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water.’ People living in overcrowded Tianjin have not taken up the offer to move here, despite it being a free trade zone where they could buy everything from a ‘Maserati to a Japanese Paper Napkin’.
If they finally finish the Liqin Hotel and Skyscraper Centre, tourist accommodation is likely to be plentiful but expensive. If I can afford it, you may find me there because I prefer to avoid crowds.