Go to contents

Chinese Projects Abound on Mt. Baekdu

Posted September. 05, 2006 06:53,   


The construction site of China’s Baekdu Mountain International Airport lies 10.6km away from Songjianghe Town, Fusong County in Baishan City, Jilin Province.

At the construction site, which lies on the edge of Baekdu Mountain, where a white birch forest spreads limitlessly, operations to level out the ground is going on. According to data by Changbai Mountain Protection Development Management Committee, it will be an airport where small sized passenger planes such as B737s, which can accommodate 115 to 130 passengers, will land. But the construction site is so large that you can barely see the end. The length and width seem to be about 5-7km by 2-3km. The runway is 2.6km, so even jumbo airplanes can land and take off.

Tens of excavators, trucks and bulldozers stand around the site. Within the construction workers, not only civilians, but also the People’s Liberation Army can be seen. Construction workers and locals talked that in case of emergency, the airport will be used for military purposes.

This airport, where 398 million yuan (37.3 billion won) will be invested, will be opened at the beginning of August 2008 right before the Beijing Olympics. The annual transportation ability of this airport is 540,000. The purpose of this airport is to attract natives from southern China, and foreign tourists.

On the road from Erdaobaihe Town, Antu County of Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture to Songjianghe Town, the railroad which will connect Erdaobaihe Town and Helong City is under construction.

When this 100 km long railroad is finished, a circular northeastern railroad connecting Changchun-Jilin- Yanji-Helong-Baekdu Mountain (Erdaobaihe)-Baishan-Tonghua will be made.

In the Erdaobaihe- Songjianghe -Manjiang-Changbai section which connects the outer ring of Baekdu Mountain’s north, west and south sides, pavement is being laid out. Here, where forest roads make up most of the section, more than half remains unpaved.

The Baekdu Mountain circular line, which connects mountain paths at the north, west and south faces, is still in the planning stage. For tourists who bring their own cars, three new highway lines on the Changchun- Songjianghe section will be added.

With the Baekdu Mountain circular line as the axis, the Heping region will be specialized with holiday facilities, the Sanhua region with healthy rest place facilities, the Wolong regions with international conference facilities, the Tzusi region as a transportation center, and the Wangtien region as a skiing resort, to raise tourist satisfaction.

Baekdu Mountain as a clean green brand-

China’s utilization of Baekdu Mountain is not just for the tourist industry. From ginseng and mineral water, to herbs, geothermal powergeneration, health foods, it is being used in all areas. The number of green industry brands under way has reached twenty.

Ginseng fields, which used to be in Fusong Province, have now expanded north to Antu province. In the hilly areas of the Songjianghe Town-Wanbao Town in Antu province, ginseng fields covered with blue plastic take up most of the land.

Changbai ginseng, which takes up 57% of the world ginseng market, costs only 20% of Korean ginseng, but with the added ‘pure’ image of Baekdu Mountain, it could become a big competitor.

Baekdu Mountain spring water is a brand Jilin Castle enthusiastically supports. Jilin Castle has recently declared to raise Baekdu spring water into one of the three world famous spring water brands, along with Alps spring water and Russia’s spring water from the Kavkaz Mountain range. Jilin castle has already founded a Changbai Mineral Water Industry Development Promotion team.

Almost no Negotiations with North Korea-

While China continues to develop Baekdu Mountain on a large scale, they have done almost no negotiations with North Korea, which occupies a large part of Baekdu Mountain’s land.

However, there are many parts in China’s Baekdu Mountain project which cannot do without North Korea’s cooperation. First, the Baekdu Mountain circular line cannot be completed without being connected to the North Korean line. Even though the path from the South reaches the top, the caldera lake of Baekdu Mountain cannot be seen without stepping on North Korean land. In the end, it is impossible to develop Baekdu Mountain without North Korea’s help.

However, China is bulldozing its way through with independent development. In case of bringing North Korea into the project, it might seem like China and North Korea co-own Baekdu Mountain, and it would be an obstacle to register Baekdu Mountain as China’s world heritage.

Even so, it is most scholars’ opinions that registering Baekdu Mountain as China’s alone, while it is actually both China and North Korea’s, would be against international convention, and must not be tolerated.