Chinese city built to look like Manhattan stands empty

(CNN) — A multibillion dollar project in China, set to mirror Manhattan, now looks like a ghost town with no people in it.

The government spent billions of dollars on a virtual replica of Manhattan in the city of Tianjin in the Yujiapu financial district. But looking around one its major intersections and you see what’s missing — the people.

When construction began in 2009, thousands of workers were building these skyscrapers modeled after some of New York City’s most famous buildings.

Today, there are few signs of construction. Even the buildings that look finished, sit empty.

The Chinese government denies reports this project has run out of money, but there’s a huge gap between their vision and reality.

China’s real estate market is declining in some areas, leaving more and more so-called “ghost cities,” often the result of wasteful construction — too many buildings — and not enough tenants.

Because real estate has been fueling China’s economic growth, a slowdown will affect a long list of industries.

As exemplified by this empty financial district, it’s just one alarming sign of bigger trouble for the world’s second largest economy.

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