Tsaidam — A Rising Industrial Base
Tsaidam — A Rising Industrial Base
Tsaidam — A Rising Industrial Base
Tsaidam — A Rising Industrial Base
Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November 26, 1971
THE Tsaidam basin in northwest China's Chinghai Province is being built into a new industrial base. The vast sandy land is dotted with derricks and factories, and many new towns have sprung up. In place of camels which used to be the only means of conveyance, lorries travel along criss-crossing highways, carrying petroleum, asbestos, lead, zinc, potassium fertilizer and chemical raw materials to other parts of the country.
Hemmed in by the Chilien Mountains on the north and the Kunlun Mountains on the south, the basin — one of the largest in China's interior — covers an area of more than 300,000 square kilometres. Rich in oil, salt, borax, lead, zinc, coal and iron-ore, it also produces gold, silver and other precious metals, while the salt deposits of Lake Chaerhan are sufficient for the people of the whole country for 10.000 years. Small wonder that Tsaidam has earned the name "Basin of Treasures."
However, at the time of liberation in 1949, it was practically desolate except for its eastern strip where, with grassland and adequate water supply, nomads of the Mongolian, Tibetan and Kazakh nationalities grazed cattle and built a few farm settlements. From 1950, survey teams were sent to eastern Tsaidam by the People's Government. Since 1954, geological prospecting teams have continually combed the area for underground resources. During the big leap forward in 1958, guided by the general line of "going all out, aiming high and achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism" formulated by Chairman Mao, large numbers of people from all parts of the country went to Tsaidam where they located many ore deposits and built many factories after overcoming innumerable difficulties.
Making Revolution With a Tent and Picks
Step by step, the industrial base has grown in size and modernized its means of production. When the Hsitiehshan Lead-Zinc Mine was being opened up towards the end of 1957, the few workers there only had a tent, two iron pots, about a dozen shovels and picks and several baskets. With great revolutionary enthusiasm, they excavated over 1,000 tons of ores in less than two months. Gradually achieving semi-mechanization in its operations, the mine has since its inception excavated several hundred thousand tons of ores.
The Chaerhan Potassium Fertilizer Plant along the salt lake was built in 1958 by four cadres and 15 workers who used whatever materials were on hand. It has developed year after year, and annual output is now close to 1,000 tons.
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a number of new factories sprang up in Tsaidam while the old ones were expanded. The petroleum industry is Tsaidam's largest undertaking. But as a result of the counter-revolutionary revisionist line pushed by Liu Shao-chi and his gang, no new oilfield was opened up in the eight years before the Great Cultural Revolution. The workers criticized the revisionist line during the Great Cultural Revolution and learnt from the revolutionary spirit of the workers at the Taching Oilfield, pace-setter on China's industrial front. In March 1969, workers flocked in large numbers to western Tsaidam to open up a new oilfield there. Braving the bitter cold of 20-30 degrees below, they built bridges and roads in the mountains and, in the teeth of wind- and snow-storms, installed power transmission lines and derricks, put up factory buildings and manufactured their own equipment. As a result, the new petroleum base was completed in about two years.
Giving Play to Local Initiative
Scores of industries have been built here in a relatively short period, including those producing iron and steel, coal, non-ferrous metals, machinery, petroleum, chemical products, construction materials, leather, sugar and foodstuffs. All this is the result of implementing Chairman Mao's correct principle "Let the localities undertake more work under unified central planning."
The concern shown by the Party and Government for building the Tsaidam basin was a great inspiration to the local inhabitants. Filled with enthusiasm, they took the initiative to serve as guides for geological prospecting teams, explored the region for ores or reported their finds to the authorities concerned; they also helped transport materials and equipment.
Isa Achi, a Uighur elder, was so poor before liberation that he and his wife and children had to leave their home in Sinkiang to find a living in Tsaidam. Drifting from place to place for over 30 years, he saw the salt lake and came across various kinds of shimmering ores. But unable to eke out a living, he later returned to Sinkiang. After liberation, he learnt that Chairman Mao had sent people to build up the Tsaidam basin. Though nearly 60, he was so overjoyed that he went back to Tsaidam. With his help, prospecting teams made their way through the desert and found water sources and oil reservoir structures as well as arable land- Through the joint efforts of the prospectors and people of various nationalities living in the area, deposits of different ores were found and many ore-showing points were located in only a few years, thereby providing materials for industrial development in Tsaidam.
To facilitate transportation of large quantities of materials, equipment and personnel into Tsaidam, the People's Government organized thousands of road builders in 1954 and started building the Chinghai-Tibet and Chinghai-Sinkiang highways across the basin. In a little over four years, nearly 2.000 kilometres of motor roads were built in Tsaidam. In 1970 when the Haihsi Mongolian, Tibetan and Kazakh Autonomous Chou decided to build the first sugar refinery in Tsaidam, departments of the central authorities concerned allocated important equipment, and technicians from a sugar refinery in a neighbouring province were sent there to teach national minority workers to master installation and operation of the machinery as well as production techniques. Their help enabled the refinery in the autonomous chou to go into production in March 1971.
Party organizations at various levels and revolutionary masses in Tsaidam showed even greater enthusiasm in developing local industries during the Great Cultural Revolution. Lenghu, a small town with a population of only 2,000 in the western part of the basin, had no local industry before the Cultural Revolution. Blicks needed locally had to be brought in from a neighbouring province more than 200 kilometres away, and soya sauce, vinegar and cakes had to be shipped from a distance.
Collecting funds themselves, organizing workers and cadres' families lo take part in productive labour and using local resources, the Lenghu Town Party Committee and its subordinate units have in recent years set up a mica mine, salt field, brick and tile factory, machine repair shop and food processing plant turning out dozens of products. This partially meets the needs of local construction and the people's livelihood.
The Haihsi Mongolian, Tibetan and Kazakh Autonomous Chou has built many small coal pits, copper mines, iron-smelting plants, power stations, cement plants, chemical fertilizer plants, plants producing machines for farming and animal husbandry as well as animal product processing plants. Total output value of local industries in the autonomous chou last year more than doubled that in 1964. With its collective accumulation funds, Wulan County's Tsungwulung People's Commune bought tractors, tractor-drawn farm implements, electric cutters and other equipment and set up small centres repairing machines for farming and animal husbandry. Work on 95 per cent of the commune's cultivated land has been mechanized and this year's acreage is 2.1 times that of 1964 and grain output 2.3 times.
Enduring hardship and working hard, a large number of Communist Party members and advanced people in Tsaidam lead the masses in working arduously for the revolutionary cause.
A one-time farm labourer, Communist Party member Yen Ching-yung in 1954 went with the first geological prospecting group to the Tsaidam basin to locate petroleum. Apart from majestic mountains, sandy land and salt fields in the western part of the basin, there were no birds in the sky nor grass on the ground. They had only camels for company.
With ten camels loaded with prospecting equipment, he set out from the base to a worksite 600 to 700 kilometres away. There was no path on the limitless Gobi Desert. But he made his way with the help of a topographical sketch map. At night he slept in the wild desert with his fur coat as a blanket. The weather often changed and the sand in the scorching noon sun was burning so hot that people had difficulty in breathing. Sometimes gales suddenly came up, whipping up sand and pebbles and darkness covered the desert. He made his way in this wretched weather for nine days. Even the camels wandered about looking to quench their thirst. Thinking of Tsaidam's future. Yen Ching-yung was determined to get the equipment to the worksite. After 11 days in the Gobi Desert, he finally got the ten camels there safe and sound.
Over the past dozen years. Yen Ching-yung and the geological prospectors have covered a long distance over the desert. He is now Party branch secretary of a geological prospecting team and still retains the same tradition of hard struggle be bad when ho came to the basin. He and the prospecting team members live in tents and work hard on the desert trying to find more petroleum resources for the motherland.
With the development of industry, Tsaidam's first generation of minority nationality workers has come into being. Operating machines and controlling blast furnaces, they work side by side with their Han nationality brothers and sisters to build up their native land.
Wanmatso, a 20-year-old Tibetan girl, is from a poor herdsman family. Her father fled from famine when he was 14 and went begging on the grassland. His head still carries the traces of the herd-owner's whip and his body the scar of a headman's knife.
Emancipated after liberation, the herdsmen became masters of their destiny. When she was 14, Wanmalso was sent to study at a nationality normal school in the autonomous chou, and in 1970 she went to the eastern part of the basin to take part in building a sugar refinery. At the time equipment was being installed. Wanmatso had eczema on both legs. The leadership and doctors at the refinery urged her to go to a hospital. Reluctant to leave, she stuck to her post. Working days and nights on end, Wanmatso and her fellow workers finally produced the first bag of refined sugar, thus putting an end to the history of no sugar being made in the Tsaidam basin.
Posted: 2009-03-06 06:16 |
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