The local hero who built Xinjiang

By Ed Zhang, Cui Jia and Mao Weihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-09-18 07:42:12

The transformation of People's Liberation army units into an economic force was driven by one of China's best-known soldiers, as Ed Zhang, Cui Jia and Mao Weihua report from Shihezi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

One man's story is of overarching importance in the history of modern Xinjiang; that of Wang Zhen (1908-93), who led the People's Liberation Army forces that took the region from the Kuomintang government, not by force, but by negotiating a peaceful liberation deal in 1949.

In the 1950s, Wang was equally active, supervising the conversion of many of those combat units into the earliest divisions of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a quasi-military force that exercises administrative control over several cities as well as farms and industrial facilities.

The local hero who built Xinjiang

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