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Jade hunters turn NW China river into tourist hot spot

By Zheng Caixiong and Mao Weihua | | Updated: 2019-08-15 16:26

A river, dubbed "China's richest river" in the southern part of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has become a tourist hot spot.

Aside from its beautiful natural scenery along the riverbanks, the Yurungqash River, also known as the Baiyu River or White Jade River in the era of ancient dynasties, is abundant with jade.

The 325-kilometer-long river, which runs through Hotan prefecture, is rich in white jade, gray jade and dark jade, and is a major source of famous Hotan nephrite jade, one of the four most famous jades in the country. The other three are Lantian jade in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, Xiuyan jade in Northeast China's Liaoning province and Dushan jade in Central China's Henan province.

In addition to tourists, many people are seen fishing for jade in the river water. They arrive at the river to realize their dream of becoming rich through Hotan nephrite jade, whose prices have soared more than 1,000 times over the last 20 years.

When the flow of melted ice and snow surges after the temperature rises in summer, primary nephrites that are weathered and denuded on the mountains are washed down by floods along the river sourced from the Kunlun Mountains and accumulate at the foot of the mountains and riverbeds, attracting many jade hunters annually. It is easy for jade hunters to find fragments of the nephrites.

It is reported that people had began mining and using Hotan nephrite more than 3,000 years ago.

Meanwhile, the cities and counties along the river are abundant with high-quality fruits. These include grapes, Hami melons, walnuts and muskmelons, and are known at home and abroad.

Carpets and silk produced in the area also are known for their high quality.

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