Stories Behind Tibetan Sisters Who Receive Letter from President Xi

October 30, 2017
By Women VoiceEditor: Rong Chen
Zhoigar (L) and Yangzom [Xinhua]

 

President Xi Jinping sent a letter to two sisters in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on October 28, after they wrote to him introducing their hometown.

The women, Zhoigar and Yangzom, are both from a Tibetan family in the county of Lhunze, near Yumai, China's smallest town in terms of population. Statistics indicate the town has only nine households consisting of 32 residents, among which there are nine CPC members.

The two wrote a letter to the president while the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was in session in Beijing. They told the president about their experiences in safeguarding Chinese territory and the development of their township over the years.

In his reply, Xi acknowledged their efforts to safeguard the territory, and thanked them for the loyalty and contributions they have made in the border area. He also encouraged them to set down roots, safeguard Chinese territory and develop their hometown.

Herding Family and Their Town

The two sisters' town is close to the border with India. The town sits at the southern foot of the Himalayas, where steep slopes and rugged paths make access difficult.

"We often watch President Xi on TV, seeing him paying visits to households in remote areas. Then we want to tell the president about our current happy life in the town," Zhoigar said.

Prior to 1990, the father of the two sisters was the only resident in Yumai. His house was both the dwelling of the family and the workplace of the local government.

Abundant rain made it difficult to grow crops such as barley. Snowstorms prevent people entering the place between November and June, said a reporter.

Many times, the two sisters tried to persuade their father to migrate, but their efforts were in vain. "My father told us if we leave, there will be nobody safeguarding the national territory. That is the reason why we keep living on the land for decades," said one of the sisters.

According to a national strategy to solidify border areas and increase the incomes of residents living there, a new road connecting the town and outside world was completed in 2011. Meanwhile, the income of residents have increased.

By the end of 2011, local residents had shaken off poverty, with average annual incomes surpassing 10,000 yuan (U.S.$ 1,508).

In terms of education, some 12 local residents are currently studying at college and another four are pursuing their academic dreams in other cities.

The first graduate of the town is the son of Yongzom. After graduating this year, the young man said he is willing to safeguard the land as his grandfather and mom have done for years.

According to the sisters, they have gained remarkable increases in their salaries. In particular, they have obtained subsidies for residents living in border areas, and for forests and grassland planting.

Local government has offered jobs for the sisters so that they can have fixed salaries.

"The annual revenues of residents in the town was over 50,000 yuan (U.S.$ 7,500) in 2016. This income was far beyond the average income across the district. Of this amount, around 30 percent is related to preferential policies," said Da Wa, secretary of the Party branch in the town.

"Residents can live happier lives and further increase their revenues through multiple businesses such as managing stores, animal husbandry, transport and selling handicrafts," the official added.

"Yumai is my hometown. China is my country. The motherland will never forget us," Yangzom said.

"I am happy to know that my words can be delivered to President Xi, who has boosted our confidence and resolution in safeguarding the border," she added.

Nowadays, all the locals in the town can have access to wireless Internet and digital payments via the popular messaging app WeChat are available in local hotels and groceries.

According to a plan, another 47 new households will move there next year. By then, the town will become a place demonstrating ecological civilization at a certain scale.

"The entire investment is nearly 80 million yuan (U.S.$ 12 million). After the reconstruction of road, electricity, housing and water resources, residents will embrace moderately prosperous life here," the official said.

"I am exhilarated to witness the reply from President Xi. As an official in the town, I definitely implement the Congress spirit and continue leading officials and residents to safeguard the territory and promote the development of the town," Da Wa said.

 

A panoramic view of Yumai, China's smallest town in terms of population, which sits at the southern foot of the Himalayas. [Xinhua]

 

Yangzom (L) and her sister Zhoigar look at a photo of their father. [Xinhua]

 

Yangzom (R) and her son [Xinhua]

 

Residents in Yumai [Xinhua]

 

Villagers present khatag to Zhoigar (L) and Yangzom in Yumai, after the two heard from Xi. They celebrate in a festive mood. [Xinhua]

 

(Source: Women Voice/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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