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PLA's nucelar bunker (Underground Project 131)

Gaoqiaozhen, Xian'an, Xianning, Hubei, China, 437017
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On a hihghway near Xianning, about 50 miles south of Wuhan, I saw a sign which told travelers that just 14 km to the east you can visit "Underground Project 131" (131地下工程), a former military facility and now a tourist area. It promised a secret military headquarters, where living quarters were provided for Mao Zedong, Jiang Qing, Lin Biao, and other important personages.That was a hot August day, and an underground tourist attraction sure looked attractive enough. I followed the sign, bought a ticket, and walked underground.The sign was right: back in 1969, during the time of Sino-Soviet broder conflicts, Chinese leaders indeed decided to build their own "Mount Weather", or, actually, an underground military headquarters. The site chosen was under a hill in the southern part of Hubei province; incidentally, not far from the hometown of Gen. Huang Yongheng, who was in charge of the construction project. A network of tunnels was duly dug, but before any of the military brass moved in, the political situation changed (think Lin Biao's flight to Mongolia, and Huang Yongsheng's arrest), and the facility was never completed. After many years of disuse, it was transferred to the local civil authorities, who decided to convert the whole place - under- and above-ground - into a tourist area.Since the construction was never complete, the system of underground tunnels and offices is fairly bare. There are genuine blast-proof doors, there is plumbing (with "Mao Zedong's bathroom" next to the supposed "Mao Zedong's office", etc - although Mao and most other leaders never actually got to visit the underground quarters prepared for them), and a few pieces of radio or electric equipment. Other than that, the only decorations were a few maps and cardboard cutouts.A note on visitor admission: when I was there in 2008, I was asked to buy 2 tickets: I was told that foreigners were supposed to pay twice the admission rate charged local residents. Later, some travelers reported that foreigners weren't allowed at all. I am not sure what the rules are now.
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Points of interest

Chengshui Cave Tourist Zone
Chengshui Cave Tourist Zone
The place is also known, and is labeled on Google Maps, as 澄水洞旅游区 (Chengshuidong [= Clear Water Cave] Tourist Area)

On The Map

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