Breaking News
More () »

Yes, viral video shows Chinese ‘ghost city’ high rises being demolished

A dramatic video shows several unfinished apartment buildings being torn down in China.
Credit: Screenshot/Twitter

On Feb. 22, Stew Peters, a media personality, tweeted a compilation video of several high-rise buildings being demolished. 

“Remember all those massive newly built but uninhabited ‘ghost cities’ China was building 10 years ago? They’re now demolishing them,” Peters wrote

This is not the first time this video has gone viral on social media. In the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria, it was shared along with false claims the earthquake destroyed the buildings. 

VERIFY looked into what is actually happening in the video.


Does this viral video show new buildings being demolished in China?



This is true.

Yes, a viral video does show new buildings being demolished in China. The video is a compilation of different developments being torn down across different Chinese cities.

Did you know VERIFY has a YouTube show? Subscribe for a weekly roundup of our top fact-checks.


Across cities in China, there are developments referred to as “ghost cities”. These complexes are made up of relatively new construction that was never completed or occupied. They are typically large developments located on the outskirts of mid-sized cities in China and many have fallen into disrepair or were never finished. 

According to the University of Southern California’s US-China Institute, a lot of these projects are left unfinished – becoming ghost cities – because of changes in housing demand or financial collapse of the developers. When the buildings are left unfinished or weren’t constructed legally, some governments choose to tear them down.

That is what happened to the buildings seen in the viral compilation video.

Using InVid, a video forensics tool, VERIFY analyzed keyframes of the video and conducted a reverse image search of the frames. 

The first 25 seconds of the video shows the planned demolition of vacant buildings in China’s Hainan province. The original video was published along with a press release to Chinese site Meipian on Nov. 13, 2020, and includes video and photos of the destruction.

According to that release, the vacant buildings were torn down because officials found several building violations and determined it was not a legal development.

The remainder of the video shows the simultaneous demolition of 15 buildings in Kunming, which is the capital of China’s Yunnan Province. Several videos posted on Aug. 27, 2021 show different angles of the same buildings being demolished in the middle of the city. 

The same buildings seen in the video recently posted can be seen in the videos posted in August 2021. 

Credit: Screenshots/Twitter
The same buildings seen in the video recently posted can be seen in the videos posted in August 2021.

According to Taiwan News, which reported on the demolition, the buildings were part of the Liyang Star City Phase II project, which sat unfinished for eight years. 

The buildings were marked for demolition because the development could no longer meet market demand and because the buildings were neglected for so long that flooding had caused irreparable damage to the foundations of the buildings, Chinese news site Min News reported.  

China’s Global Times also posted photos of the demolition in 2021. 

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

Follow Us

Want something VERIFIED?

Text: 202-410-8808

Before You Leave, Check This Out