Mystery Complex in Xinjiang Not Complex, Not a Mystery

At Ogle Earth (via Bill Bishop), Stefan Geens addresses speculation over Google Earth images of a Xinjiang construction site so mysterious that “Even an Ex-CIA Analyst Isn’t Sure” what is being built there. Geens’ conclusion, in light of Kashgar’s 2010 designation as a special economic zone, is that the site is not a submarine base or Mayan temple, but “just another huge industrial park”.

[…] The complex in question is conveniently being built just to the northeast of the very modern Kashgar airport, very close to a reservoir which I drove by on an excursion to nearby ruins (also marked on the map). The railway from Urumuqi to Kashgar veers into Kashgar just south of the reservoir, and would be perfectly positioned for an offshoot into the industrial zone. This complex is not at the far edge of some small desert town; it is located on prime real estate near transportation hubs in a rapidly expanding trading and manufacturing center that was once a major waypoint on the Silk Road. It would be the absolutely worst place to build a secret base.
[…] This story thus reveals more about us than about China. It is above all a story about technology racing ahead of our ability to put it into context. We are overawed by the notion that we can observe any place on Earth in high resolution, but we lack the tools to understand this power and the limits of this power. Into this cognitive vacuum we pile on conspiracy theories. Any absence of information suddenly requires a cover-up. Comments to the original Danger Room article betray an amazing appetite for conspiratorial beliefs that are incompatible with even a passing knowledge of how satellite imagery is collected.
And the story also reveals how many in the West continue to

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2 Responses to Mystery Complex in Xinjiang Not Complex, Not a Mystery

  1. SauLan says:

    Um…the pictures in question show a large number of blown-up cars and trucks, and not to far away, a equally impressive number of blown-to-smithereens buildings.

    I’m not at all surprised that the Chinese military would have a practice range, but I am quite curious to find Western observers rushing to pass this obvious bombardment zone off as some kind of future Special Economic Zone shopping mall. Unless they mean *really* special.

  2. red says:

    SanLan, like the guy who wrote the article linked above, I too have been to kashgar within the past year, so I can assure you there are not blown up cars and trucks (?) I have know idea where you are getting that from…

    Right now kashgar is seeing a HUGE influx of investment because the CCP wants to restructure and tighten their net around Kashgar, the de facto cultural capital of Uyghurs. Indeed, almost all of the old city has been bulldozed and redone with new prefab ugly building as seen in the rest of that country… ugh. They say it’s because of the “fire hazard” of the old narrow lanes, which is a valid point, but with all these new huge condo high rises and it’s designation as a SEZ (which is basically to get the population of Han people there to rival that of the Uyghurs) it’s kind of obvious they are just trying to stomp out uyghur culture wherever they can it’s kind of sad.

    Anyways, my main point is those are area where they are indeed contructing huge industrial parks and condo high rises I’ve seen it for myself several times flying and driving in and out of kashgar.