China's first nuclear weapons research and
production base in northwest China's Qinghai Province has been declassified and
opened to tourists.
"The underground headquarters of the nuclear weapons research and production
base are a curiosity to many people. They can see the 'nuclear city' for
themselves," said Zuo Xumin, an official with the Haibei Tibet Autonomous
Prefecture where the base is located.
"The base will be developed into a key travel site, and it will become a
platform for spurring the patriotic spirit of Chinese people," Zuo said.
The base was the birthplace of China's first atomic and hydrogen bombs. It
was built in 1958 on the grassland at the north region of Qinghai, covering more
than 1,100 square km.
It was closed by the government in 1987 to support its demands for a complete
ban on the destruction of the world's nuclear weapons. It was handed over to the
local government in 1993.
The headquarters of the base comprised eight large rooms 9.3 meters below the
ground and built with reinforced concrete.
Tourists can visit the rooms, which originally held a research laboratory, a
command room, electricity generation room and telegraph transmitting room, but
are now almost empty.
A museum has been built at the base, now named Xihai Township, where old
telegraphs, telephones, machines, clothes, bowls and food coupons belonging to
the people who worked at the base are exhibited.
Hotels and restaurants are also being built in the township.
Last year, the government allocated 93 million yuan (11.6 million U.S.
dollars) to better preserve the base.
The money was spent on building exhibition halls, renovating buildings and
improving the natural environment, according to the Qinghai Provincial Cultural