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"The Great Desert - Part I" Jiayuguan Favorite Tip by mke1963

Jiayuguan General: 12 reviews and 14 photos


Favorite thing: Beyond Jiayuguan, to the west lies the great desert. Jiayuguan was really the end of China in Ming times. Although Dunhuang and isolated oases and towns existed beyond the lonely fortress, this was it: the end. Beyond here was a great emptiness and the barbarians and the uncivilised world. Even today, Chinese people are uncomfortable with the world beyond their borders. I am sure many Chinese will strongly disagree with this, but I have sufficient experience travelling overseas with Chinese and in discussions with many people inside China to hold this view. I mean it as no disrespect; there is certainly a fascination with the outside, but it is always put in a China context. Some have, in recent years, seen it in an aggressive light, calling it "aggrieved nationalism", but that is regularly disputed.
Nevertheless, in days gone by, the Chinese simply did not trust the people beyond their borders, and given the remarkable acientific achievements in early China, there was perceived to be little need for foreign goods, many of which were inferior to domestic solutions. Today, this tends to manifest itself as an undying belief that eventually Chinese products and services will be superior to those developed elsewhere. Maybe. Maybe not.

But back in earlier dynasties, to leave China was a truly terrifying experience and even those who chose to do so, generally returned as quickly as they could. To be exiled was even worse, and those that were sent beyond the borders tended to stay fairly close by in the hope of being readmitted to the fold in due course; many were. China doesn't easily forget its sons and daughters, no matter how badly they have behaved in the past.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 20, 2006
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