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Looking east to China

The Chinese government is shortly expected announce in Beijing that it plans to hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix at the brand new Zhuhai International Circuit. The track is scheduled to be finished at the end of this year although the first race is not thought likely to take place at Zhuhai until 1997, which will coincide with the date on which the British government is to hand back Hong Kong to the Chinese.

Hosting a race at Zhuhai - just 36 miles from Hong Kong - will be a good way to promote the image that China is opening up to the West (in much the same way as the Hungarian GP did in the mid 1980s).

Zhuhai is one of China's new cities, with an international airport being planned and motorway links now being completed with Hong Kong.

The plans for a Chinese GP are not new and date back to March, 1992, when a preliminary contract for the $100 million project was signed between the Zhuhai development office and Malaysian businessman Datuk Lim Kheng Kim of Lamdeal Investment.

Lamdeal, which runs the Shah Alam racing circuit in Malaysia, planned to build a 2.75-mile racing circuit on a 1000-acre plot of Chinese government land. The track, with a spectator capacity of 150,000, was to be part of a sporting center which would also include an 18-hole golf course and two hotels.

The design was completed by Malaysian architects Lawrence Loh and the work done by Australian company Kinhill Engineering. Work began at the site early in 1993 and was visited at the end of that year by FIA President Max Mosley.

The F1 teams are delighted to be going to China, as most of F1's big sponsors are desperate to break into the vast Chinese consumer markets.

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