This is China’s most arid province and people here struggle to hold back the desert. Projects have been implemented to grow forests, build dams and storage reservoirs, wind generators, solar panels and the use of solar power for cooking. All of this illustrates a government policy with a conscientious and well-planned attitude to the environment. You can see this even in small things, as the use
of plastic bags is banned here and only eco-bags are provided in the stores of the Tibetan autonomous region. The five days that I spent here convinced me that the Chinese people have not just experienced an industrial boom, they also managed to have a green revolution in the countryside. Bald mountains of clay and sandstone on the outskirts of Yongjing are now bristling with trees that were planted to prevent the slopes from being destroyed by landslides. All this is taking place in a province that not long ago was considered one of the most depressed regions in the country. The Chinese government continues to attract investment here, implementing programmes to reduce poverty and restore the region to its former glory as a key frontier stronghold of the Silk Road. As a result, the quality of life of the local population has significantly improved; there is no unemployment, but there is affordable health care, free school education and social benefits. Girls from the local school are open about the way life has changed. “We didn’t always live like we do now. We remember the time when Yongjing was a remote fishing village, with no tourism at all”. The changes have been gradual. Today, thanks to the development of domestic tourism, visitors come here from all over China, a country which is so vast that those from the east see the western borders as remote and exotic. These visitors bring money and the region has blossomed as a result.