The economy in Liaoning province, which includes Dachangshan island, was one of the slowest growing in China in 2014 - GDP expanded 5.8 percent, far undershooting its 9 percent target.
"There needs to be serious discussions over the economic rationality of large-scale engineering projects. Do we really need this many high-speed lines and airports?" said Lu Dadao, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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A government official and economist estimated in November that China has wasted an approximate 42 trillion yuan on "ineffective investment" in the five years from 2009, with the problem worsening in the last two years.
An airport, no flights
Despite its modern airport, finding a flight to Dachangshan island is not easy. Staff at Zhoushuizi International Airport in the port city of Dalian, the destination of the sole published route, said flights to the Changhai airport on Dachangshan have not operated for the last six months.
On a recent Wednesday morning, the airport's ticket counter was deserted apart from a female airport official. Still, its speckled grey marble floors were scrubbed shiny by a cleaning attendant, while the toilets were spotless.
"Call in two to three days to check if there's a flight," the official told Reuters. "The plane's under maintenance." A male colleague sat next to the baggage screening machine, head bent towards his knees, seemingly falling asleep.
Outside, there is little sign the small airport has had much impact on the island of about 30,000 inhabitants. Instead of shops or eateries, fishermen's homes surround the airport. Ferries are the preferred mode of transport to Dalian, locals said.
Undeterred, the Dalian government plans to spend 1.48 billion yuan ($238.9 million) this year to expand the airport to accommodate 250,000 by 2020, as part of its latest drive to spur the economy and to turn the fishing outpost into a holiday destination, according to local media reports.
Wu Hong, an official from Dalian Changhai County's publicity department, said the airport expansion was meant to keep up with the island's development, adding that it received 1.1 million tourists last year.
"In gross domestic product terms, none of this is bad. It generates growth, one way or another," said J Capital Research analyst Susannah Kroeber, who has been tracking China's infrastructure build-out since 2012.