Inside the Chinese nuclear bunker that’s now welcoming foreign tourists


816 Nuclear Military Plant was built to guard against the threat from the USSR

816 Nuclear Military Plant was built to guard against the threat from the USSR

China has opened its newest tourist attraction – a former top-secret military plant deep in the mountains which was once earmarked to manufacture plutonium and house thousands of Cold War explosives.

The bunker known as 816 Nuclear Military Plant is the largest of its kind in the world and contains the world’s largest artificial cave, while boasting an additional complex of 17 man-made caves and more than 130 roads and tunnels. In all, it spans some 12 miles.

The base is safe from radioactivity as it was never put into action Credit: Alamy

The base is safe from radioactivity as it was never put into action Credit: Alamy

The largest cave is where the nuclear reaction hall was planned, and is almost 80 metres high and 25 wide.

Built in 1966 when Chinese relations with the Soviet Union began to decline, the bunker in the mountains of Chongqing in the Fuling district was designed to withstand thousands of tons of explosives as well as 8-magnitude earthquakes. More than 60,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army helped construct the plant, with at least 100 dying in the process.

The bunker underwent renovations before opening for foreign tourists Credit: Alamy

The bunker underwent renovations before opening for foreign tourists Credit: Alamy

The project was on-going for 17 years before it was abandoned in a nearly finished state in 1984 when the Cold War began to thaw. Thankfully for the visiting public, it was shut down before the manufacture of plutonium-239 began. 816 was declassified in 2002 and opened to Chinese nationals in 2010, but now, after a renovation, foreign tourists are also allowed to visit.

Its tunnels are wide enough for cars to drive through Credit: Alamy

Its tunnels are wide enough for cars to drive through Credit: Alamy

“The site is now open to foreign visitors and will allow overseas partners,” said Yang Yan, an administrator at the site told China Daily. “So far, no foreigners have visited the plant.”

“This base has never been put into operation or stored any nuclear material,” Yang said. “There is no need to worry about radiation. It is safe to enter.”

Former assistant manager of the plant Zhang Xiaodong talks to guests Credit: Alamy

Former assistant manager of the plant Zhang Xiaodong talks to guests Credit: Alamy

“A tour takes three hours,” Yang said. “Visitors must follow the guide; otherwise they will get lost in this huge maze-like cave.”

China was initially friendly with the Soviet Union, seeing the communist state as one of its greatest allies, but in the wake of the Second World War relations suffered as the political ideologies of the two diverged. In 1961 the Communist Part of China formally denounced the Soviet variety of communism as a product of “Revisionist Traitors”.

Source: The Telegraph “Inside the Chinese nuclear bunker that’s now welcoming foreign tourists”

Note: This is The Telegraph’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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