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Keeping border safe in Yunnan a family tradition

By LI YINGQING in Kunming and YE ZIZHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-24 09:26
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Yan Cong plays a flute while taking a break during a border patrol. [Photo for China Daily]

From the looks of his skin, Yan Cong spends a lot of time outdoors exposed to the sun, wind and rain.

Dressed in a dark green camouflage coat and carrying a crescent-shaped knife, Yan and his colleagues patrol a 7-kilometer section of China's border with Myanmar some 350 days a year.

In the past five decades, he has walked more than 100,000 km. Officers come and go, but Yan has stuck with his job protecting his hometown.

"The border patrols have changed several times, but Yan Cong is still here, offering guidance and information to new police officers," said Duan Yuanbin, a border policeman who has worked with Yan for two decades.

Born in 1960 and raised in Ximeng county, Yunnan province, Yan said drug dealers and smugglers crossed the border frequently when he was a child. He felt a sense of urgency to protect the border and his village. "We needed to do something to let the smugglers know there were people patrolling, and they could be caught," he said.

His father was among the first to patrol the border following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. He taught his son and later his grandson that protecting the country was an important part of guarding their home. The Va ethnic group elder is the head of a village in Ximeng.

Over time, patrolling the border has become a family tradition, and the boundary markers along the border their family treasures. On a China Central Television show about youth shaping the future, Yan Hu, Yan Cong's son, shared the family story of guarding the border over the past 56 years.

It is not easy, he said. There are no roads, and sometimes there are dangerous animals in the forest.

"Thorns and weeds grow rampant along the trail if you don't walk it frequently. A guide is necessary for those not familiar with the route," Yan Hu said.

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