The Birth and Rebirth of China’s Atomic City

Jinyintan was China's Atomic City

In a dispatch from “among the yak herds and Tibetan Buddhism prayer flags dotting the windswept highlands of northwestern China,” Adam Wu and Chris Buckley describe the curious rebirth of a small town called Jinyintan. As the birthplace of China’s nuclear weapons program, it is often compared to Los Alamos. The Chinese “Atomic City,” though, retains its shroud of mystery:

The beauty of Jinyintan has been celebrated in song, and in a film from 1953. In warm months, the grasslands burst into luxuriant green, and Tibetan and Mongolian herders have for centuries guided yaks and goats over the pastures. But after 1958, Jinyintan disappeared from Chinese maps.

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