Fact Check: Does Viral Video Show China Destroying Unfinished High-Rises?

The fall of Chinese mega-developer Evergrande in 2021 induced global economic fears that it would default on the massive debts it had accrued and trigger a financial crisis.

During this saga, Chinese authorities ordered the company to demolish a 39-building resort complex, as it struggled to address its (at the time) $310 billion in debt, making it the most indebted developer in the entire global real estate industry.

In this context, a video depicting the destruction of multiple high-rises, said to all be in China, went viral on Twitter this week attracting millions of views.

China building demolition
A viral video depicting the demolition of dozens of buildings, said to have been destroyed in China, attracted millions of views on Twitter. The strength of China's real estate market has been questioned since the downfall of mega-developer Evergrande in 2020. Pictured here, explosives being used to demolish the highest building in the Shanghai World Expo site to make way for construction work for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo on November 8, 2006 in Shanghai, China. China Photos/Getty Images

The Claim

A tweet posted by user @fasc1nate, on February 22, 2023, included a video, watched more than 4.6 million times, of multiple skyscrapers being demolished across different locations. The tweet stated: "China destroying unfinished high-rises."

The Facts

While the tweet does not give any details about where the buildings were located, other reports have confirmed that all of the collapses took place in China between 2015 to 2021.

The first two videos in the clip appear to be from the same building site. Although Newsweek was unable to find a news report attached to the first clip, it appears to have been demolished at the same site as the building in the second clip.

AFP investigated the footage earlier this month when they were falsely linked to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake between Turkey and Syria.

As stated by AFP, a video of both buildings' demolition was reported on by a Russian news service, in August 2022, alongside multiple other Chinese media outlets.

Meipan, a Chinese social media platform that issues official government statements, also shows footage of the buildings' destruction.

The demolition, however, took place in 2020 in southern China's Hainan province in the county of Lingao reportedly because they had been illegally developed.

The following three clips come were filmed in the city of Kunming, Yunnan Province, on August 27, 2021. According to Newsflare, fifteen buildings were destroyed after being abandoned, reportedly the largest one-time demolition in the country.

Videos of the same demolition shot at different angles were published by USA Today and China Observer.

The final clip was from the demolition of a 118-meter-high building Xi'an, in northwest China's Shaanxi province, in 2015.

China Daily reported that the 27-floor high-rise had been left unused and could not be repurposed. A video by Malaysian TV channel The Star showed the destruction from several angles.

It is not immediately clear whether, if any, of the demolitions in the video were linked to troubles at Evergrande. Nonetheless, the popularity of the footage shared on Twitter suggests the anxieties surrounding its problems remain fresh.

The strength of China's economy continues to be questioned, in part, by the development scandal at Evergrande.

A December 2022 report by The World Bank that while it expects the country's real GDP growth to increase to 4.3 percent this year, it added that it was "subject to significant risks", adding that the "persistent stress in the real estate sector could also have wider macroeconomic and financial spillovers."

The Ruling



All of the demolitions in the video on Twitter were shot in China from 2015 to 2021. Although it is not clear whether all are linked to insecurities connected with China's property market, at least two of the developments in the video were buildings that, reportedly, had been abandoned or were not in use.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team

True: The claim is verifiably correct. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be true.
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