Former Chinese nuclear bomb base turned into tourist attraction

Former Chinese nuclear bomb base turned into tourist attraction

Way out west, a once top secret nuke location is hoping to draw crowds of "patriotic tourists"
china atomic bomb base -- main
China's first atomic bomb is the subject of an exhibition in Beijing. The bomb's research and test site, Malan, is being turned into a tourist attraction.

It's not exactly going to be Disneyland -- but this new "theme park" is unlikely to have many imitators. 

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which lies 3,000 kilometers west of Beijing, is shelling out some RMB 6 million (US$960,000) to transform China's former atomic test site Malan Base into a tourist hot spot, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency (link in simplified Chinese).

The project will turn the country's former top state secret into the Malan Military Expo Park (马兰军博园) to showcase national defense legacy. Local government also regards it as a way to drive tourism, the report said.

Construction crews broke ground on October 10.

Located in Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, about 380 kilometers southwest of provincial capital Urumqi, Malan was the research and test site of China's first atomic bomb, which was exploded in October 1964.

The compound on the 100,000-square-kilometer site was built from scratch in the 1950s for military purposes. It ceased functioning as a research center in 1996 after China signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

A local official told Xinhua the laboratories, offices and barracks for military officers and scientists are still in their original condition.

A 300-meter-long air raid shelter will also be opened to visitors.

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Malan Base partially opened to the public as a "red tourism attraction" and "patriotic education center" in 2005.

It’s not clear whether or not the site or sections of the new Malan Military Expo Park is currently admitting visitors.

Xinhua's report did not mention when the revamping is expected to be completed. But we're looking forward to seeing what is on sale in the souvenir shop.