Inside China’s ‘Nuclear City’ That Can’t Be Found on Any Map

China has one city that’s never been charted in any existing map. Even most Chinese citizens, surprisingly, are unaware of its existence.

It’s very much like Panem’s District 13 in the “Hunger Games” trilogy.

Enter “404,” an isolated city located in the Gobi Desert about 100 kilometers from the city of Jiayuguan in Gansu Province.

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The remote city, named after a China National Nuclear Corporation company, was built in 1958 to host the country’s first nuclear bomb at the height of the Cold War.

Image: Ruptly TV
Image: Ruptly TV

Once home to China’s greatest nuclear scientists, the 500-acre settlement is nearly empty with only about 1,000 residents left. Most were relocated to Jiayuguan in 2006, according to Sixth Tone.

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Abandoned factories, housing blocks, a library, park, playground, public bathhouse, zoo and other amenities remind visitors of its specially-designed livability.

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An underground defense system was also built in case a nuclear war broke out.

Image: Li Yang
Image: Li Yang

Li Yang, a 32-year-old photographer, claimed to grow up in 404 and described how living there was like. He told Daily Mail:

“Other people would say their hometown is Beijing or Wuhan. What about me? I would say I come from 404 city. It feels strange.”

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The city had no means of transportation as it was possible to cross opposite ends in 15 minutes.

Image: Ruptly TV
Image: Ruptly TV

Li said China was determined to create the bomb then:

“It was a typical Communist collective lifestyle. People were sent from around China to live and work in the purposely built city to accommodate three generations. They brought their customs and languages to the melting pot. At the time, China wanted to build a nuclear bomb at all costs.”

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Li now lives in Beijing, but he never forgets his hometown. He’s worried about its future (via China.org.cn):

“Today, only some old people live in that town, and they have decided to die there. I am afraid my hometown will disappear forever together with its last senior residents.”

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