Below I reproduce their brief, e-mailed thoughts, unedited. This is not meant to be scientific, thorough or necessarily indicative of anything other than these individuals' opinions and perceptions of this issue and those related. I still believe it proves interesting.
1.) Student, female, 25-yo, from Hunan province, graduated from the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, currently studying communications at graduate school in the US and traveling abroad in her spare time:
I always think that the real estate is a bubble, people just keep investing and hoping the price to go up, fake value.
But about the first link, I don't really believe that, I've been to many cities in China, even some of the ones mentioned in the news, but I never see the emptiness like that. And the way a Chinese city develop is that the government will decide which area will become the next new district, then they will direct the business to that direction. Sometimes it takes years for an area to become the new district - probably that is what this news(1st one) is talking about...?
2.) Student. female, 23-yo, finishing a degree at University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, currently unemployed and living with family in Shanghai:
if ur asking my opinion id say these are probably not real.
there is no such place in china with perfect living condition with out human.
chinese are everywhere, i highly doubt the government could do this with anybody known about it.
realty business in china is a very hot topic. basically u can make lots of money by buying lands at a low price and selling the houses/buildings/apartments at much higher prices. thats what they thought about it, theoretically. but the truth is people who need to buy a house doesnt have money(enough money) to buy it. but there always are richmen buying properties like crazy, they think the price is not gonna go down so its a zero risk investment. in genenral, ppl who needs the house cant afford it and ppl whos actually buying them they dont need to live in them. thats why lots of new buildings are empty.
it happened before in hainan we call that property bubble. but at that time ppl were not interested and all the buildings in sanya were empty.From another e-mail:
u can tell what happens right now its quite similar.
chinese government is about to rise a new decree about house duty on the purpose of lower the housing price. it might work, but it rises new problems as well.
i cant predict what will happen, but i think the essential problem is that, there are TOO MANY PEOPLE HERE!!!!!!! and we are all VERY POOR!!!!!
there are so many misunderstandings about china, but even we're chinese, sometimes we dont know what the hell is going on. but the inflation here is definitely worse than the government anouced it would be. chinese are buying like crazy but i dont think its because we're rich its because the money we're holding is devaluing better we change it in to goods.
I am waiting on responses from a few other individuals. This post may be updated later if I hear back from them.
I received another response to the ghost city links, this time from a Chinese national who is currently a teaching assistant at an American university:
They are very interesting sensational news articles, indicated in the choice of words as "Amazing" and "Ghost". It seems that the authors use satellite images embedded with a strong technocratic rational to establish the authenticity of their bold claims. The general public who are not aware of the facts in China may easily buy into these claims, however, for Chinese audience, they may easily detect the flaws in the arguments. For example, the caption for one image says "No cars in the city except for approximately 100 clustered around the government headquarters." To my knowledge, it could not be an evidence for the claim of "ghost city", since the majority of people in China still don't have their private cars and the primary transportation is public transportation system. Also, I'm not sure about the accuracy of all the statistics.
However, I agree that satellite images do present many meaningful messages regarding cities' construction. In order to convincingly argue for this certain interpretation, as a reader, I expect more recourses from different angles.
Skepticism is a common theme, it seems.