Former top secret atomic bomb site will open to public
Updated: 2012-10-17 22:57
By ZHENG JINRAN (China Daily)
The experiment site where China's first atomic bomb exploded is set to open to the public.
The mystery surrounding the site and its dated equipment and buildings is expected to draw tourists to the area.
A massive 6 million yuan ($960,000) will be spent turning the former nuclear weapon site — Malan Base, located in the remote desert of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region — into a tourism attraction.
The former working and living quarters at the site are still in their original condition. The labs have remained the same as they were when the first atomic bomb was developed there about 50 years ago, a local official said on Monday to Xinhua News Agency.
Tourists can visit the 300-meter anti-airstrike tunnel, said Arken Hasim, a senior official with the Beyinguoleng Mongolian autonomous prefecture, which has jurisdiction over Malan.
The first nuclear bomb in China exploded in the desert near Malan on Oct 16, 1964. The central government suspended nuclear weapon programs in 1996.
In recent years, many former military bases have opened to the public as tourist attractions. One such attraction is the 816 underground nuclear plant in Chongqing's Fuling district, known as "the world's largest man-made cave", which opened to the public in April 2010.
"Former military bases can attract tourists because they used to be secret, but not all of the bases will make money unless more attractions are developed and the supporting services are improved," said Wang Guohua, a tourism expert at Beijing University of Technology.
He said the most important aspect of opening the site to the public will be ensuring safety.
"The management committee should do modification works to guarantee no nuclear radiation nearby," he said.
Top secret military bases are usually located in desert areas, making transportation difficult. Wang warned that supporting services, such as transport, catering and hotels, must play an important role.
He also said other attractions should be developed to add longevity to the site's appeal.
Huang Jianxun, a teacher with Shandong Normal University, voiced the same concerns as Wang, and said he would not be visiting.
"It sounds dangerous. And I don't know what there is to see in that place besides knowing its history. I prefer to visit natural beautiful spots," he said.
But Liu Peng, a military fan from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said he is interested in visiting the former atomic site.
"I'm curious about history and development of the military base, and I also want to know why people selected that place to be the base and what happened in that area," he said.
The 26-year-old man who lives in Yangshuo county, a famous tourist area in Guangxi, said it may also bring many benefits to the local residents, similar to what people in his county enjoyed.
Xinhua, Cao Yin and Shao Wei contributed to this story.