by Jean-Jacques Ndayisenga’13
Cold, foggy, wet, and snowy, we had just left from HoiTak Hotel in Urumqi to drive an hour away to visit Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock. To arrange the visit, the local tour company told them that we were exchange students with the Xinjiang Electrical Institute. Everyone agreed to play their parts.
The company was founded in 1988 and is now the top electrical transformer producer in China and the third in the world. They make all kinds of high voltage power equipment as well as tele-communication and power transformer cables. They have expanded their production to about 18 countries, which include Sudan, Malaysia and many Central Asian countries. The company also has a focus in solar energy production, being the largest research and assembling company of solar energy in China. Visiting this company was great, giving us a first-hand insight into the assembly of transformers, which was surprisingly labor intensive.
Afterwards, we drove to Shihezi. On the bus, we discussed about our previous visit and touched a bit on recent tensions between ethnic groups in Xinjiang, mostly between Uygher and Han Chinese. Serious problems erupted as recently as 2009, so this was quite a timely discussion.
Shihezi is located about 158km away from Urumqi, in the middle of Xinjiang province, and about 500 km from China’s border with Kazakhstan. It has undergone fast development in the last 50 years, and in 2005 it was ranked one the first regions in the world in terms of improving living standards. There has been a lot of migration, with many people coming from eastern China to help develop Xinjiang’s agricultural sector. It has about 39 research institutes, about 1022 health organizations, and a population of 2.54 million. There are about 400 enterprises in this city and it is considered an artificially city because the construction of the city started from where there was nothing else.
Arriving in Shihezi, we went for lunch and then visited the Museum of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XCPC). XCPC started in 1964 as part of Mao’s strategy to solidify the nation and strengthen the border. XCPC built 6 cities of which it has control over 4 of them. At the time, 14 regiments of solders arrived in Xinjiang and were assigned to different regions in the province. After demobilization, they became farmers and community leaders. The museum was different from the rest of the museum that we have been in as it focuses only on the Mao period. We saw pictures of first Red Army members to arrive in Xinjiang, pictures of the first communist leaders in the region, and pictures of General Wang Zheng, the first general to arrive in Xinjiang. We saw pictures of soldiers getting involved into building the community, such as farming, building roads, and helping with water irrigation projects. At the Museum, Professor Brown was interviewed by the local news media, who will report our visit in the newspaper.