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Zhijiang Airport Being Built in Hunan
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The construction of a new airport in south-central China's Hunan Province began Sunday in a bid to improve transportation conditions in the mountainous regions in the west of the province.

Zhijiang Airport, to be located at the site of a former military base some 35 kilometers from Huaihua City, a regional center in western Hunan, will cover some 290 hectares and is expected to be completed in two years.

With a total investment of 162 million yuan (US$19.5 million), the project was jointly approved by the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, and the Central Military Commission at the end of last year.

Once completed, the airport will be able to accommodate Boeing 737 aircraft and will boast an annual handling capacity of 200,000 passengers and 3,200 tons of cargo by the year 2010, local sources said.

Economists say that as Huaihua city lies at a strategic point linking eastern and central China to southwest China, construction of the new airport will add much impetus to local economic development as well as the country's ambitious plan to develop its vast western hinterland.

In 1942, Zhijiang was one of the two major bases for the US 14th Air Fleet, which was vital in aiding China's war of resistance against Japanese invasion (1937-1945).

The old airport was deserted after the war, but some parts of it, such as the tarmac, runway, control tower and even a Sino-US airmen's club, have been carefully preserved, local sources said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2002)

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