August 31, 2009 11:37
China has embarked on a project to construct a major resort complex on Mt. Baekdu, which is revered by Koreans as the site where their nation was born. A total of 200 million yuan (around W3.7 trillion) is being invested in the resort complex, the highest amount ever for a tourism site in China.
The Liaoning Daily on Thursday said ground would be broken on Friday to develop a 30 sq.km area in Baishan, Fusong County near the mountain into a tourism and leisure zone.
The project will involve four private businesses -- Wanda Group of Dalian, Asia Standard International Group, the Inner Mongolia Yili Energy Company and Yifeng Group of Liaoning.
China has been working to register Mt. Baekdu on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2006 as part of its Northeast Asia Project, which many in Korea believe seeks to coopt early Korean history, and has been pursuing development of a major tourism site there. In August last year, Changbaishan Airport, using the Chinese name for the mountain, opened for business.
Fusong County, where the tourism complex is being built, is famous for its ginseng plantations and located around 20 km west from Chonji or Heaven Lake, a natural lake on the top of the mountain. The four Chinese firms will spend the next five years building a massive convention center, hotels, a ski resort, hunting range, golf courses and villas in the area. Among the 10 hotels being built is the six-star Park Hyatt Resort. The ski resort will measure 7 sq.km and contain 50 slopes, becoming Asia's largest.
The government of Jilin Province has invested another 5 billion yuan to build a highway and railroad linking the tourism complex directly with the city of Dalian. Presently, tourists can travel to Mt. Baekdu from late May until early September only, but once the project is completed, the area will be accessible all year long.
"For some time now, China has pursued a project to develop Mt. Baekdu into a tourism area, but because of troubled relations with North Korea, we have not even been able to come up with a comprehensive development plan," said Kim Young-soo, a director at Hyundai Asan. "We are worried that China may end up occupying Mt. Baekdu using its own name Changbaishan," he added.
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