Affairs

Urbanism

Looking for a plan— Dongguan

Preface

What happens when urban planning goes wrong? The answer is Dongguan, a metropolis hastily erected on the back of a 1980s economic boom. With poor transport and half-empty shopping centres, life is a struggle. But authorities may finally be taking note.

China, Dongguan, Pearl River Delta, Urban planning

Dongguan, a teeming metropolis of seven million people in southern China’s frenetic Pearl River Delta factory region, is the largest city in the world without an airport. Unless, of course, you count the long-distance bus station that calls itself “Dongguan Airport”, with an international and domestic departure sign (above the same door), a flight check-in desk and a giant advertisement for holidays in the Maldives. The only problem: the actual planes are an hour’s ride away in the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Dongguan’s fake airport is ind…

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