Shepherd sticks to border guard commitment, 54 years on

By Mao Weihua in Urumqi and Zhang Yangfei in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-12 09:47
Wei Deyou patrols along the border. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A wife, a radio and a herd of sheep are 78-year-old Wei Deyou's only companions on a vast, barren prairie called Sarbulak in China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Stretching straight to the horizon, Sarbulak, near the border with Kazakhstan, has been Wei's home for most of his life because of a commitment he made 54 years ago.

Wei traveled to Xinjiang from Beijing in April 1964 with comrades in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps to take on the mission of guarding the border.

There were many ways to fulfill the mission, but Wei picked herding livestock, tiresome work shunned by most others.

Choosing to run the animals meant waking up at sunrise and patrolling 20 kilometers of border. Swarms of gadflies and mosquitoes stung him through his clothes in summer, and blizzards piled up meter-deep snowdrifts that made every step difficult in winter.

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