China's military bases face urban development threat

BEIJING, July 11 Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:42am EDT

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BEIJING, July 11 (Reuters) - China's cities are growing so fast that even the country's military is getting the short end of the stick, state media reported, with unauthorised new roads cutting through barracks and tall new buildings hampering operations at air bases.

Ordinary residents usually bear the brunt of the massive development now happening in Chinese cities, with mass relocations and forced demolitions common place, in some cases sparking violent protests.

But breakneck and often illegal construction has also been impinging upon once tightly controlled military areas, affecting combat preparedness, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Sunday, citing the results of a nationwide survey.

The inspection raised concerns of severe "damage to military facilities' security and impact upon weapon preparedness and efficiency," Xinhua paraphrased senior army officer Meng Guoping as saying.

"Some important bases have effectively lost their ability to be used in a war," Meng added.

The report cited several instances from the inspection -- carried out in June at military bases nationwide -- where facilities were forced to relocate or operate at reduced effectiveness because of encroaching urban sprawl.

The building of new high-rise buildings in Zhengzhou, the capital of the populous central province of Henan, had obstructed the runway at an air base, Xinhua said.

Illegal construction of navigation and hydropower projects interrupted bombing drills in the northeastern city of Harbin, and the effective radar range at a base in southern Guangxi region dropped by 60 percent due to illegal high-rises.

"These problems have attracted the attention of national and army leaders, who have already charged the relevant responsible departments to adopt measures for their immediate resolution," Xinhua said. (Reporting by Sabrina Mao and Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Sanjeev Miglani)

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