The city of Ordos is located on the outer edge of the Gobi Desert 170 kilometers southwest of Hohhot, the capital of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It has 1.5 million residents, just 6% of Inner Mongolia's total population, but it accounts for more than 20% of the gross regional product (GRP), and it has been contributing greatly to the region's economic growth. Furthermore, its per capita GRP is higher even than Shanghai's. So the "Ordos miracle" has been attracting attention from all across China.
The GRP of Ordos in 2009 came to 216.1 billion yuan, or about ¥2.9 trillion, and per capita GRP was 134,361 yuan, or about $20,000. If its economy continues to grow at its current pace, it is expected to top Hong Kong ($30,000 per capita) within the next five years. In 1978, when China launched its reform and open-door policies, the city's GRP was just 346 million yuan. So the scale of its economy has ballooned by a multiple of 625 between then and 2009, and the per capita figure has surged 391-fold.
This astonishing growth has been made possible by the city's underground resources. It has confirmed reserves of 167.6 billion tons of coal, one-sixth of the national total, and 800 billion cubic meters of natural gas, one-third of the national total, along with 6.5 billion tons of rare earths. The surge in the prices of these underground resources has turned Ordos from a poor rustic community into an affluent city.
The municipal government is working to attract businesses and develop industries of various sorts to wean the local economy from its dependence on underground resources, and it is now building the Kangbashi New District in the suburbs, covering an area of 32 square kilometers and costing 5 billion yuan (approximately ¥67.5 billion). Six landmark edifices have already been completed, and the municipal government has transferred its offices there. Plans call for the new district to house some 1 million people, but at present it only has 28,600 residents, and the new blocks of condominiums that have been completed one after another are standing empty, causing some to nickname the district a ghost town. Ordos means "palaces" in the Mongolian language; it remains to be seen if and when the Kangbashi New District will live up to this name.
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