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Chinese border guards help herdsmen


Updated: 2015-08-02 08:51:13

URUMQI- For Tian Gaoshuai, a border guard from northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, placing fourth in a military skills competition marking Army Day on Saturday capped a fruitful few months in the Chinese armed forces

He is most proud not of his combat skills, but of his role in an innovative project providing vegetables for herders on the Pamirs Plateau, a barren and inaccessible part of Xinjiang. It is hard to grow vegetables there, especially in the freezing winter, and equally tough to transport them from Kashgar City due to dangerous mountain roads.

"Our dream was to build two greenhouses with heating systems, so as to allow local herdsmen to eat vegetables any time of year," said Tian.

After a fundraising campaign in which the 25-year-old even competed on a TV talent show to win assistance, the greenhouses have recently gone into operation.

It was back in June 2013 that Tian and several other soldiers from the Khunjerab border inspection station on the China-Pakistan border took part in the "Chinese Dream Show" on the Zhejiang Television network. With contestants offered the chance to have their dream realized if they impressed the audience, the soldiers won applause with their martial arts.

Tian and his fellow soldiers now mix training herdsmen in planting veg in the greenhouses with performing their more conventual, and tremendously important, duties. The armed border police division of China's army is the first line of defence warding off terrorists and maintaining security in the border area.

The job is dangerous sometimes, but their lives are far from harsh. A recreational and sports center was put into use in May. Border guards like Tian can play basketball, read books, watch movies and even play simulator golf.

After realizing his dream of helping the needy herdsman, Tian hopes he can achieve his other ambition of helping to keep China safe in the long term.