During my last trip with my friend F. in the valleys of Aba County, we noticed a little wall with some propaganda murals belonging to the Revolutionary China of 1960’s. On our way back to Chengdu, we managed to find a little time to visit the old work unit near Shuajingsi.
Shuajingsi (刷经寺） is a small village located in the center of Aba hinterland areas and is one of the nodes that leads to Ma’erkang (72Km) or to Chengdu direction (335Km). The name has been readapted from the Tibetan “Kharga Lang”, meaning “Cedar God”.
During Chinese modern history Shuajingsi has been one of the stops for the Long March, again for the Liberation Armies back to North Sichuan areas at the time of the consolidation del control of Western Chinese territories, and also recently with the Sichuan earthquake of 2008.
In the book by E.Jocelyn and A. McEwen, “The Long March: The True Story Behind the Legendary Journey that Made Mao’s China“(, 2006,Constable.) the little village of Shuajingsi is also mentioned when interviewing the people of this valleys for the reconstruction of the journey of the Long March. About Shuajingsi (刷经寺) it is said that here people were not reading the news but instead the living the story.
There areas were also before the end of the Second World Warred one of the prototypes of the red army states.
The founded in 1930, the Red Army was under the direct leadership of the CPC Central Committee lead by Mao Zedong, Zhu De and other proletarian revolutionaries leaders.
During the Long March the Aba, Ma’erkang, Shuajingsi and Songpang valleys played an important rol to defend the Revolutionary War a Red Army troops, in a tactic which was called “encirclement and suppression”.
By July 2nd 1935, by the Red Army vanguard northward Army and Red Army troops step by Shuajingsi before entering the territory of the summer Blackwater. This is Mao Zedong‘s third over the Snowy Mountains, is the highest number of Red Army crossed back and forth a Snowy Mountains.
At the time the People Liberation Armies came back in this valleys after the long much to consolidate the Chinese regional control over Qinghai and Sichuan, there were two main routes: the first route, called “Small Northen Route” was starting from Chengdu, passing trough Ya’an, till Jiangda, and then keeping to Lhasa.
The second route instead was called “Large Northen Route“, starting from Shuajingsi (near Ma’erkang), then to Changdu end ending to Lahasa.
The area is famous becuase in March 1954, Sichuan Province, Tibetan Autonomous Region (now the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture) Shuajingsi has been the political pole of the area four years.
Is during this period that Dong Xiwen came to take sketches to capture the everyday life of the people of these valleys together with a Chinese crew came to recreate the routes of the long march. Here some information about Dong Xiwen from a previous article.
The mid-1950s to the early 1990s the area has been mainly focused on a agriculture-based economy, large-scale cultivation of rapeseed.
In August 1958, the local institutions were relocated from Aba with new pole in Ma’erKang.
In July 1960, the State Council approved the establishment of Hongyuan County. It is worth mentioning that the late Premier Zhou Enlai County is named for the red, meaning the Red Army through the prairie.
The reconstruction of the history of the work unit:
The name of the work unit in the entrance is still visibel “向阳坝军马场” (Horse Farm of the Sunflower Dam).
The work unit was specialized in the production of pharmaceuticals to be sold in Sichuan and in Qinghai, but that during the reform of opening had failed in disgrace. Local people told us that, is an old Unit that has been moved back to Chengdu, but it difficult to say since no trace of the working unit anymore.
The work unit has been abbandoned for its functions after the abbandon of the planned economy but still some local residence are living inside of it, but they don’t seem to recall exctely the origin of the work unit.
My personal explanation is that between the most of the Chinese Han who came to populate this valleys were not actually from Sichuan and some decided to go back their hometowns or to move forward Ma’erkang. For another part of the memebers of commettee they didn’t get in disgrace because actually the shift from planned economy to open economy has anyway benefits mostly the leading families of the planned economies times, and most of them where Han Chinese.