China is a study of how harmony works through diversity. The country has reflected this characteristics through Gansu Province. Gansu has shown that much good can be achieved through diversity to include economic growth and harmony. BUKOLA OGUNSINA writes…
Gansu is beautiful in its diversity. The county of Subei is home to Mongolians, who make a living on the idyllic grasslands. Over thousands of years they lived as nomads. The prairies in Subei and the Mongolian Yurts are attractive to tourists. Equally the Kazak living in the Kazak Autonomous County of Askai are recognised for their expert horsemanship. A place where tourists can relax listening to Kazak songs, live in white tents near the Sugan lakes, join in dances and enjoy delicious local cuisines. Little wonder it was chosen to support the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through events that hosted delegations from across the world.
Gansu’s Jiuquan is vital to the understanding of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the most part of what is left of the ancient Silk Road, of which the BRI project builds upon runs through the east and west of Jiuquan for 680 km. Jiuquan controls one district, two cities and four counties namely; Suzhou district, Dunhuang city, Yumen city, Jinta county, Guazhou county, Subei Mongol autonomous county and Aksai Kazak autonomous county. This area has a population of 1.1 million, and is 42 percent of the entire Gansu region. Each area uses its individuality towards a common goal… development.
Dunhuang, a city affiliated to Jiuquan is situated at the junction of Gansu Province, Qinhai Province and Xinjiang Autonomous Region. According to information gathered from officials, the city oversees nine towns with a population of 200,000. It boasts of warm temperate and arid weather, nicknamed, ‘the driest place,’ in China. It is the first station for the Silk Road which has left an indelible mark. This is evident in not only the vast deserts that surround it but also the famous Mogao Grottoes that have stood the test of time.
Buddhism arrived China through Dunhuang. The Mogao Grottoes are also known as, ‘Thousand Buddha Cave,’ and have become one of the most fascinating places to visit. In order to preserve this legacy, the government restricts the number of visitors each year. The famous grottoes certainly look like a scene from another time, as caves are etched into the golden looking rocks running the length of the road near the desert. There is something sacred about this place. It tells a story of a place that harboured monks. As the years went by, people went there to pray as well. It houses a large number of Buddhism books, paper, embroidery, and silk painting. Revenue is generated from visits by tourist from all over the world and domestically.
Another beauty is the crescent moon lake found in the desert. “The water may dry up by next year due to climate change,” an official said, giving the impression that those who saw it this year where indeed fortunate. The two humped camels the region is famous for trudge along the sea of sands in the hot sun, a nose rope connecting one to the other and held by the guide that led them. A ride on a camel is 100 Yuan for the curious tourist who would like to experience this. A female guide, chubby and sun burnt with ruddy cheeks is kind enough to take pictures of tourists with their smartphones, as they took on different poses the camels all cooperating.
Dunhuang shone even brightly during the Media Cooperation Forum on One Belt and One Road held recently. It was called the blue print for China’s opening up to the world by the Vice Chairman, Standing Committee, 12th National People’s Congress (NPC), Mr Zhang Ping, with theme, ‘New Cooperation prospects towards a shared community future.’
The event and visit to Gansu Province, left an indelible mark in the minds of those who were there. The Chairman of Editorial Board, ThisDay Newspapers in Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi during his speech at the forum indicated emotively that the caves in the famous Grottoes of Gansu speaks of the ingenuity of the Chinese people, as he recounted a touching story he heard visiting the digital centre, of a historical figure, who out of pity sacrificed himself for a starving tigress and her cubs. The Silk Road Dunhuang International Cultural Expo had over 1,700 guests to include 95 delegations from 85 countries. Six state leaders and former leaders were also in attendance.
In 2016, Dunhuang’s GDP was 10.64 billion yuan, its investment in fixed assets was 20billion yuan, the paid-in investment was 17.84 billion yuan, the number of tourists and tourism income reached 8 million people and 7.8 billion yuan. Its cultural industry’s added value in GDP increased to 10 per cent. The industrial added value was 1.54 billion yuan. While the per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents reached 29,467 yuan and 15,312 yuan increased by 64 percent and 76 percent.
Tourism as its leading industry accounts for 50 percent of its overall economy. The cultural industry is also aiding the region’s economy. In 2015 cultural contribution increased to 9 percent to overall economy. It also named the first class region of sunshine and heat resources. It is home to China’s first million-kilowatts-class photovoltaic power generation demonstration base.
Fed by its mother river, the Danghe River, Dun Huang enjoys what is called an advanced irrigation agriculture system. In Gansu Province, it is a primary production area of quality fruits, cotton and vegetables, which includes Liguang apricot, Ziyan peach, Hongdiqiu grape and seedless white grape are recognized as, ‘well-known fruits of China.”
Zongzhai, in Suzhou District harbours the popular Gobi Agricultural Industrial Park one of the Province’s proud achievements. It was established to boost the area’s agricultural sector as well as fight desert encroachment. According to a senior official of the park, Li Jinping, the Park had adapted scientific rotation skills in order to be able to plant any crops all year round.
Information gathered from officials of the Province states that the Park is considered not only as one of the main national modern agricultural demonstration zones in the area but its first to demonstrate application of soil-less culture techniques on non-arable farmland in the northwest part of China. The park has a total investment of 102 million Yuan, and has water supply, power supply, road networks and 1032 high standard solar greenhouses constructed.
The Park has 17 advanced practical technologies to include organic ecological soil-less cultivation, hole tray seedling matrix, drone pollination, fertigation, smart gathering vehicles and intelligent greenhouse control systems.
Li informed that there was 30,000 Yuan revenue for each green house, with 1,032 green houses totally soilless. The farm used mixtures of goat and sheep waste to grow crops. Some of the crops planted include; cucumber, pepper, tomatoes. The Park has been able to generate 100,000 kilogram of pumpkins annually. The project was initially launched in 2009 with total harvests of two to three times per year. The variety of vegetables and fruits and fungus in total are up to 27. This is an agricultural industrial park more countries with arid regions can learn from in terms of food production.
Yumen has been called the, ‘cradle for oil industry,’ of China. A demonstration of the Province’s efforts is the Yumen Clou Sanshilijingzi Wind and Solar Power Grid Integrated Verification Demonstration Project belonging to Yumen Clou New Energy Co., Ltd.
It is regarded as a significant investment project introduced by Yumen Municipal Party Committee and Yumen Municipal Government to in its support of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and speed up new energy construction. The power grid has a total investment of 280 million Yuan. The project is designed to build a 15MW photovoltaic power generation and a 10 MW energy storage system, and to plan to access the existing 10 MW wind power. After its completion, its yearly power generation capacity is expected to reach about 22.50 million kWh and 20 million Yuan sales revenues, according to information gathered.
The Vice Mayor of Yumen City, Jing Yin Bing, revealed that the name of the city means jade door, a pass and in ancient times there are two poets describing Yumen. In one of the poems the spring winds never comes to Yumen, in this aspect describing its geographical nature. Yumen has six counties with a population of 180,000.
Known as the cradle of important industries in China especially petroleum, it is reported as having the first oil well in China. Yumen serves as the basis for these important natural resources, and has enormous potential in the future in resources. The first nationwide 10 million kilowatt level in wind energy base in China, Yumen is an ecological new city and a pearl on the Silk Road, called a garden city in the country. According to reports the ‘forest’ of windmills in Yumen paints a unique and beautiful picture at sunset.