By Li Congjun, Liu Siyang, Li Keyong, Bai Ruixue and Han Bing
In order to survive and live another day, a flock of demoiselle cranes soars high in the sky across the Himalaya Mountains, the Rooftop of the World. Their honk resonates loudly in the mountains they circle over.
Every spring, these migratory birds return to their breeding grounds in northern China from their winter nesting sites on the Indian subcontinent.
The airflow, predators and other dangers cannot hold them back from challenging the daunting journey of flying over Mt. Qomolangma and then far beyond it across the Yellow River and the Great Wall back to the place where they were born.
Here all across the northern tier of China, groups of people are pressing forward to make a better life for themselves now and in the future just as these noble and tragic cranes are doing. For the past 35 years they have been toiling building the largest ecological project in history—China’s Three-North Shelterbelt.
Dubbed as the Green Great Wall, the shelterbelt stretches across the northern tier of China, and like the ancient Great Wall brings together China’s past and future and testifies to the suffering, hardship, struggles and dreams of the Chinese people.
The people of the deserts across the northern tier of China are like tall, straight trees that weave this endless stretch of greenery. We ask, "Suppose you are a tree, what tree is it then?"
Shi Guangyin says, "I’m like a Scots pine. I’ll live over a hundred years and control desertification into my old age."
Niu Yuqin says,"I’m like a Xinjiang poplar. I'll grow straight and tall."
Bai Chunlan says, "I’m like an old elm tree. I’m hard to kill, have a large canopy and can stand the cold."
Zhang Shengying says, "I’m like a populus simonii. I can hold back the sand and I am not aggressive."
Yin Yuzhen says, "I’m like a robinia. In springtime, I’m covered with flowers whose fragrance fills the air."