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National Heroes
Posted: November-11-2021Adjust font size:

The award ceremony for the July 1 Medal, the highest honor of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 29. President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, presented the medals to outstanding CPC members.
A total of 29 people received the honor, including three who were awarded the medal posthumously, with 22 of them attending the ceremony. Three of them are featured in this article: Wang Shumao, a role model in safeguarding the country’s rights and interests in the South China Sea; Zhoigar, a guardian of the country’s borders on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; and Shi Guangyin, an individual who leads efforts in afforestation and combating desertification.

Marine rights protection vanguard


Wang Shumao, a deputy to the National People's Congress(NPC) from Hainan Province. Guo Cheng
Born in Qionghai in south China’s island province of Hainan, Wang Shumao has been safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and marine rights and interests in the South China Sea for decades.
Since 1985, Wang has been deputy head of the militia in Tanmen, a port township among the nearest to Nansha in the South China Sea. For years, the militia has been driving away foreign vessels entering the region. 
The militia has over 100 members and its ships are equipped with the BeiDou navigation system and maritime satellite phones. It provides hundreds of pieces of intelligence information from the South China Sea every year.
The Tanmen militia has about 60 days of training a year, including a month of regular offshore training and nine days of live-fire training, which include rescue courses, first-aid treatment and sessions such as intercepting entering vehicles. “Local fishermen have been safeguarding the waters for generations,” the 65-year-old veteran fisherman said.
Wang, also a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC), always keeps a notebook and pen at hand to take notes when he hears suggestions from fishermen. Their work is the inspiration for the suggestions he submits to the annual NPC sessions, covering topics like promoting recreational fishery and how to increase fishermen’s income.
“Community-based NPC deputies like me must listen to the voice of the people. This is my duty,” Wang said, adding that now as Hainan has ushered in a new era by building itself into a free trade port, he will pay closer attention to the protection of marine resources, the development of the recreational fishery industry, and the countryside vitalization. He will strive to play a pioneering role and perform his duties as an NPC deputy to seek benefits and development for locals in Hainan, as well as making Tanmen more beautiful.

Border guardian


Zhoigar, an NPC deputy from Tibet Autonomous Region. Xie Huanchi
As an ordinary Tibetan villager, Zhoigar and her family have been guarding China’s borders on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for over three decades. Sitting at the southern foot of the Himalayas at an altitude of over 3,600 meters where steep slopes and rugged paths make it difficult to access, Yumai was once the least populated town in China.
It experienced tremendous changes during the past several decades, and Zhoigar has witnessed it all. Due to the lack of infrastructure, medical services and educational resources, most residents moved to the inland parts of the country. For many years, Zhoigar’s family, including her sister Yangzom and their father, were the only residents in town, and the family herded livestock for a living.
“My father used to say that despite a total of three residents, this was still China’s Yumai town. We must safeguard our country’s territory and never lose it to anyone,” Zhoigar said. “We have tried our best to guard the border area as our father told us. Once the roads were connected, our life would get better and better.”
In 1995, water, power, roads, as well as the Internet, were gradually accessible. Now, the population of Yumai has increased to more than 200. The town has become a moderately prosperous border area, with an average annual income of more than 34,000 yuan ($5,300) per person in 2020. Over the years, tourism has developed, too, with restaurants and stores selling arts and crafts with local features and attracting an increasing number of tourists nationwide.
“Yumai has changed drastically compared to what it was. We’re getting old now, but I believe our future generations will make this place thrive even more,” the 60-year-old Zhoigar said.

Sand tamer


Shi Guangyin, an NPC deputy from Shaanxi Province. Liu Xiao
More than six decades ago, a sandstorm blew Shi Guangyin some 15 km away while he was on his way to herd goats. Shi was lucky enough to be rescued by local herdsmen but his friend lost his life.
Hailing from the city of Yulin, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, located on the edges of the Maowusu Desert, Shi, now 69, shares wearily familiar grief with many others living in the area. Maowusu, one of China’s major deserts, stretches from Ordos in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to Yulin in Shaanxi Province. Climate change and human activity had led to the desertification of Maowusu. According to local chronicles, in June 1949, the forest and grass coverage rate in Yulin was only about 1.8 percent.
In the 1950s, China began to promote forest conservation nationwide and started large-scale afforestation. In 1981, the local government of Yulin allocated wasteland including barren hills, sandy areas, slopes and ditches to individuals for long-term use and promised that the trees they planted on the wasteland belonged to them. Shi was in the prime of his life and took the lead in becoming China’s first contractor to plant trees in the barren desert to curb sandstorms and possibly make a fortune if he got lucky.
After selling almost all of his properties to raise money for his planting career, Shi also encouraged more than 300 fellow villagers to move to Maowusu for a greener future. In the spring of 1988, more than 80 percent of his trees survived the harsh environment in Maowusu. In a few years, Maowusu saw its first oasis.
By the end of 2004, more than 16,000 hectares of sand and alkali areas that Shi had leased were brought under control, with the total afforestation area exceeding 23,000 hectares. Statistics show that about 440,000 farmers in Yulin have leased more than 600,000 hectares of wasteland over the decades. After these desertification prevention and control efforts, the city’s forest coverage has increased from 0.9 percent to 34.8 percent. Over 570,000 hectares of quicksand have been fixed or semi-fixed, while large areas of exposed sand can barely be spotted now.
“By following scientific forestation plans, we will see a more beautiful countryside decorated in green all year round,” Shi said.

Source: National People’s CongressEditor:
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