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Featured News / Mongolia News / Politics / April 1, 2014

Ulaanbaatar’s Ger District Residents to Temporarily Populate Chinese Ghost Town of Ordos, only to be replaced by workers from Pyongyang

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This history of relations between Mongolia and China has been a tumultuous one, although the precocious growth of the mining economy within Mongolia has brought the two into a still burgeoning relationship of trade. The signing of a Government supported MOU that will see China’s Shenhua Group Corp. purchase around 1 billion tons of coal over the next 20 years is evidence that Mongolia and China will continue to develop bilateral cooperation at a time when the slowing of a decade long commodities boom has had dramatic impacts on Mongolia’s economy.

Besides Post Soviet style downtown of the city and modern luxurious apartment houses and townhouses, the suburb of UB filled with ger district.

Besides Post Soviet style downtown of the city and modern luxurious apartment houses and townhouses, the suburb of UB filled with ger district.

A recent announcement indicates that the diplomatic relationship between Mongolia and China is set to develop further as a result of a proposed population swap that will see up to 300,000 people move from the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar to the ghost city of Ordos in inner-Mongolia. The temporary move would clear four major ger district areas in preparation for full-scale redevelopment over a period of four years from 2015-2018.

The Ordos region is situated within Inner-Mongolia, an area of northern China that still maintains a significant level of independence and still uses traditional Mongolian script. A resource boom in the region means that Inner Mongolia boasts a higher GDP than even Beijing and is considered one of the richest areas of China. It is extremely rich in natural resources, having one sixth of national coal reserves. The heavily stylized city or Ordos itself was developed to cater for expected explosive growth. The Kangbashi district or Ordos was originally designed to accommodate a population in excess of one million, although by the start of 2014 it was home to less than 20,000 people. Typical housing prices in this region have fallen from US$ 1,100 to US$ 470 per square foot and the landscape is strewn with huge residential projects under construction. Everywhere in Ordos new infrastructure, including the grand Eerduosi airport, are ready to accept new residents. New businesses are also awaiting a population influx that has been yet to come.

In stark contrast to the grand scale of the scarcely utilized infrastructure of Ordos, the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar are home to over 700,000 people, few of whom are served by a complete complement of basic infrastructure. Many residents of these areas live year-round in traditional Mongolian gers (felt tents), which are heated with nothing more than coal burning stoves. These stoves contribute to levels of air pollution in the Mongolian capital that rank among the highest in the world and levels of soil pollution that are threatening the entire city’s water table.

Empty quarter in the city of Ordos, China

Empty quarter in the city of Ordos, China

The proposed population swap will solve the respective problems of both of these urban spaces, providing temporary good quality housing for the population of the ger districts in Ordos and freeing up space in Ulaanbaatar for redevelopment into new homes and facilities.

“Ordos offers us a great temporary housing solution that will help us to clear the ger areas ready for full redevelopment. It has a really great airport and several nightclubs”  Mr Batbold, Minister for Extraordinary Things

In an interview Mr. Batbold of the Ministry of Extraordinary Things said “the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar are the foremost roadblock to the development of the city. The households living there face many difficulties and these spaces pose a threat to the ecology of the city overall”. He went on to say of the population swap project that “this represents a very real and workable solution to the problems faced by Ulaanbaatar. Ordos offers us a great temporary housing solution that will help us to clear the ger areas ready for full redevelopment. It has a really great airport and several nightclubs”.

Furthermore, it appears that a population-swap of sorts will also take place with Mongolia and North-Korea as part of this arrangement. Long-standing labor agreements with North-Korea in terms of supply of skilled workers means that for the duration of construction, up to 3,000 North-Korean workers will be sent from Pyongyang to help build the 75,000 households that will replace the current ger districts. These workers will be domiciled within the ger district areas for the duration of construction but sources indicate that they will return to North-Korea upon completion of the project.

North Korean construction workers carry building materials in the Bayanzukh area of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

North Korean construction workers carry building materials in the Bayanzukh area of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Historically, population swaps are highly controversial responses to politico-religious and ethnic conflict, such as the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which saw a major agreed mutual expulsion and involved approximately 2 million people. However, the swap between Ordos and Ulaanbaatar is only proposed as a temporary measure and will stimulate the rapid growth of both cities.

Residents of the ger districts, many of whom have already traded their land for apartments in future developments, will be asked during 2014 about their preferences in terms of relocation to Ordos  . Relocations are expected to begin during the spring of 2015.

Please note that this article is intended as an April’s fool article and is not meant to be taken seriously. The event or situations it depicts are purely fictional and bear no resemblance to any real life situation.

SOURCE: M.A.D. Newswire April's Fool




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