To Build Desert City, China Will Level 700 Mountains

Environmentalist, economists complain, but developer optimistic

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 7, 2012 9:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Faith, as they say, can move mountains. But apparently $3.5 billion and an ambitious Chinese developer can flatten 700 of them. It's all part of a bold plan to create a metropolis called Lanzhou New Area on 500 square miles of arid land in China's Gansu province, reports the Guardian. Led by China Pacific Construction Group, one of the largest private companies in China, the Lanzhou project is hoped to pump billions to the area's economy by 2030.

Not everyone in China is enamored of the plan. Lanzhou is in northwestern China, in a less developed and highly polluted part of the country, and already is facing big water shortages for its 3.6 million people. Economists complain that there just isn't any demand for a new city in that part of the country and environmentalists say it doesn't have the resources. But China Pacific rejects those criticisms. "Our protective style of development will divert water to the area, achieve reforestation, and make things better than before," says a spokesperson for the developer.

A woman and a boy walk in a sandstorm in Lanzhou, in northwest China's Gansu province, Thursday, April 23, 2009.
A woman and a boy walk in a sandstorm in Lanzhou, in northwest China's Gansu province, Thursday, April 23, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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A promotional video envisioning Lanzhou New Area, but to built in a desert in Gansu province, China.   (Guardian)

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