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Fishing in the desert

By Sun Yuanqing ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-04 10:00:30

Fishing in the desert 

He Yanzhong makes a research trip to the desert near his fishery in Dunhuang, Gansu province. Photos Provided to China Daily

The Chinese Dream | He Yanzhong

He Yanzhong has been toiling in the desert in Dunhuang, Gansu province, for 13 years, determined to transform it into a fishery oasis. Sun Yuanqing follows his arduous journey and finds out what keeps him going.

He Yanzhong felt his legs weakening and his head spinning. Before he could make sense of what was going on, he collapsed to the ground. A total of 21 hours passed before he woke up from the coma and found himself in the hospital.

Fishing in the desert

A family art 

Fishing in the desert

Bright prospects 

This was only one of the four times He was almost killed while conducting field research in the difficult conditions of the desert in Dunhuang in Gansu province in Northwest China, where he is determined to transform one area into a fishery oasis.

"I cannot bear the disgrace of retreating from something I initiated," He says, recalling his 13-year combat in the desert.

Fishing in the desert may sound absurd, but He, who has been toiling with his colleagues for 13 years and invested 280 million yuan ($46 million), has proven that it is not only possible, but also beneficial to the ecological environment and local community at large.

"People thought I was crazy to put all this money into the desert instead of real estate and the banks. But here, the money can turn the environment into a liveable one for everyone. For me, this is the true value of money," says 52-year-old He, who is the founder and chairman of Bibo Company, which develops cold-water fisheries.

He was voted by tens of thousands of netizens as one of "the Grassroots Heroes of 2013" ahead of an award ceremony hosted by Xinhuanet.com in early January.

"This is more than an affirmation for my personal effort. It shows the public's increasing awareness of desertification in China," he says.

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