Has China’s ‘Area 51’ Been Found in the Gobi Desert?

Speculation on the Internet has run rampant about the nature of the structure found by Google Maps enthusiasts in China's Gobi desert. (Image: via  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Speculation on the Internet has run rampant about the nature of the structure found by Google Maps enthusiasts in China's Gobi desert. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Google Maps enthusiasts have discovered many unique and fascinating geographical structures from around the world. This time, the discovery of a big structure from China has sparked online debate as to the nature of the structure. Internet users have even named the region China’s “Area 51.”

China’s Area 51

Area 51 is the code name given to the secretive military base of the U.S. armed forces. While the U.S. denied the existence of such a base for decades, it formally acknowledged Area 51 in 2013.

Given that China is one of the biggest military powers in the world, people started speculating about the existence of a Chinese version of Area 51. And thanks to Google Maps, a few enthusiasts discovered a curious structure that resembles a high-tech military base right in the Gobi desert.

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The structure resembles a high-tech military base. (Image: Google)

When the images popped up on the Internet, people started labeling the structure as having an extraterrestrial origin. The hype was fuelled by YouTube channels like the “Thirdphaseofmoon,” which focuses on UFO and alien conspiracy theories. Some people also started calling it China’s Stonehenge.

However, it soon became clear that the structure, no matter how weird it looked, certainly was manmade. “Stop with the hype, it’s a test rang[e] for reconnaissance aircraft, their cameras, and targeting equipment. Every country that puts satellites up, has ballistic missiles, or a fleet of ISR aircraft has a range like this,” Fox News quotes a commenter.

The satellite image reveals a series of circular structures with a few aircraft, possibly military jets. A runway for these aircraft can also be made out from the image. People started digging up older satellite images of the region and found that the structure has had at least four aircraft on site for the past 13 years.

Other structures

This is not the first large-scale weird structure in China that has popped up on Google Maps. A few years earlier, people had noticed huge networked structures in the country’s desert.

One of them was located in Gansu, north of the Shule River. The structure’s intricate network of metallic strips is estimated to extend to 3,000 feet. The tracks of the structure seem to have been built with the express intention of being seen from orbit.

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The tracks of the structure seem to have been built with the express intention of being seen from orbit. (Image: Google)

Again, it is still unclear what the place is actually supposed to be. Interesting speculations have pinned the structure to be some sort of a calibrating grid for the spy satellites of the Chinese. Some even say that it might be a QR code for aliens. Two more similar grids were also discovered and speculated to be targeting grids.

“It is some kind of military target for airstrike or gunnery practice. Another 4 x 4 piece grid some 200 meters across has some pieces clearly blown to smithereens, again supporting the target practice theory, and a dummy runway in garish bluish-white is probably not for style-conscious aliens, but air-to-ground strafing practice,” ZDNet quotes Paul Marks, tech correspondent from New Scientist.

He also brought up the possibility that Google Maps might have been hacked and the structures we see might only be overlays intended to fool people. While media outlets have approached the Chinese authorities for a formal clarification about the curious structures, the tight-lipped communist government has given no reply.

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