Chinese military weirdness

Tuesday, 18th August 2009 by

There aren't many sights that puzzle us here at Google Sightseeing, but this one has us stumped. In a remote desert area of Gansu province in northern China is this mysterious maze-like pattern.


The "streets" are about 20 metres wide, and the pattern occupies a rectangle measuring about 1km x 1.8km, aligned north to south and so sharply defined that it almost appears superimposed on the image. If you zoom in, though, you can see that the lines really are there on the ground.


Exploring the surrounding area, things get weirder. A short distance to the west are what appear to be a series of runways in various states of repair. But where are the support buildings and access roads?

runway1 runway2

At the northern end of one runway, there seem to be bomb craters. Could these be fake runways built as aerial bombardment targets? These mysterious blue-roofed buildings also seem to have been blown up.

craters blueroofs

Further west again, what's this? Another big maze rectangle, this one looking old and faded. And just beyond... a circular arrangement of vehicles, planes and... other stuff, laid out over a 12-pointed star pattern. Another target? The plot thickens!

oldmaze target

Frankly, we could fill a week's worth of postings with the odd stuff on display around here. What are all these suspiciously regular shapes filling dry river beds, with signs of excavation and vehicle tracks? Could they be giant sandbags being filled and then carted off for construction work? If so there are thousands of them!

sandbags sandbags2 sandbags3

If any readers have any theories (or if anyone in the Chinese military happens to be reading!) then we'd love to know. One thing we do know, thanks to Google Earth's historic imagery feature, is when the "maze" in our first photo was built. A photo dated April 14 2005 shows it partially completed, but by May 30 it was all finished.


Thanks to Garret.