Qingdao, China

The Fushan Tunnels

Forgotten German bunkers in China create a sharp cultural contrast

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The Fushan Tunnels are a series of military installations and defensive positions, blasted deep beneath the surface of China's Mount Fu (Chinese: 'FuShan').

FuShan looks down on the port city of Qingdao, once settled as an Asian outpost by German colonists. The Germans arrived here in 1898, bringing with them a wealth of culture which is still apparent today. St. Michael's Cathedral in the Bavarian Quarter – along with a series of colonial mansions – stands out in sharp contrast against the surrounding Chinese architecture. Then there's the Tsingtao Brewery, which uses German-inherited techniques to brew what is arguably the finest beer in China.

These colonists also left behind a series of subterranean fortifications, most of which look out over the East China Sea; presumably to warn of attack from the British fleet stationed at Hong Kong. At least three different tunnel networks were built, varying in size, complexity and facilities. Some sections consist of bare rock passages leading into look-out points or gun turrets; other portions of the labyrinth are fitted with reinforced bulkhead doors, electric light and rudimentary air-conditioning.

The Germans abandoned Qingdao in 1914 (following the Siege of Tsingtao), being called home to mounting tensions in Europe. The city, along with its tunnels, fell under Japanese Imperial rule until 1922.

Each successive occupation of Qingdao left its mark on the Fushan Tunnels, with extensions, additional entrances and increasingly modernised amenities being added at each change of hands. During WWII the tunnels were supposedly used as an artillery depot and special-forces training ground; a role which was to be resumed later, during the period of Mao's Cultural Revolution between 1966 and '76.

Since then the tunnels have been abandoned. As many as a dozen different entrances lie scattered around the peak of FuShan, many now hidden beneath rocks and undergrowth. A similar network – not far from the centre of Qingdao – has been memorialised as the 'Mount Qingdao Fort Museum'. The Fushan Tunnels, however, remain largely unknown.

[Adapted with permission from an original report by Darmon Richter. For more images and info, visit The Bohemian Blog]

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    Mount Fu, Qingdao, China
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Darmon Richter
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