South China Mall, built in Dongguan and more than twice as large as Minnesota's Mall of America, was completed in 2005. Today, it sits almost completely empty. It is, by any account, the world's largest ghost mall.

It's not hard to guess what happened here: many of China's overzealous building projects over the last decade—including hotels, amusement parks and near-overnight luxury home developments—were probably untenable even if the worldwide economic crisis hadn't happened. And since it did, they're truly, deeply, and completely screwed. PBS did what nobody in China seems to be doing, and actually went there:


There's still a sad little skeleton crew rolling around the premises in golf carts and a few businesses—mostly food chains, it seems—are up and runnng, but of the 1500 rentable spaces spread out over 7 million square feet, about 99% sit empty. And as if the endless shots of sparsely scored, post-apocalyptic retail ruins don't convey enough of a sense of despair and failure, here's the last news story posted on their English language website:

Located at Dongguan South China Mall, the first Teletubbies Edutaiment Centre will be open with a grand opening ceremony held on February 24, 2006. Representatives from BBC Worldwide、Ragdoll Limited, Impact Licensing Marking Management Consulting Co.,Ltd. will be attending the opening ceremony.


More than burnt hair, rotting flesh and formaldehyde, that, folks, is the smell of death. [PBS via Metafilter—Pic via]