Imagine a black guy who has been used to wearing short and sleeveless t-shirts in Sierra Leone, under the hot burning sun, now has to put on two long sleeve t-shirts plus a winter jacket and two trousers.
Back in Sierra Leone during Christmas period I used to sing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”. I never understood what it meant until last Christmas when I woke up and saw the entire vicinity was covered with snow.
On that day, a closed friend called me from Manchester and asked which part of China I was, and when I told him I was in the northeast at the Russian border, he shouted, “oh that means the place is very cold?”
I replied, “yes I am in Harbin city of Heilongjiang Province often referred to as “Moscow of the south”.
Heilongjiang is one of China’s biggest provinces with a population of about 40 million. It is located at the north-eastern tip of China and got the name from the largest river that borders Russia and China.
It accounts for about 5% of China’s population and has 13 cities, 66 counties, 1,211 towns and 14,488 villages, covering an area of 454,000 square km.
Heilongjiang is a highly developed province with modern buildings, standard roads and many airports.
Currently, the province boasts of 60 railway trunks and branch lines, forming a comparatively dense area of the nation’s railroad network. The province has eight highways and 20 provincial-level highways. The air transport industry has made rapid advances in the last ten years.
Heilongjiang now has 67 air routes and five airports in Harbin, Qiqihar, Mudanjiang, Jiamusi and Heihe respectively.
Heilongjiang’s river system is one of the country’s three largest river systems open to navigation. Its main streams include Heilongjiang River, Songhua River, Nen River and Wusuli River.
At present, coal mining, timber, machinery and chemical, fishing, food and textile industries are the main industrial activities going on in the province with little oil mining.
The province mainly produces crude oil, timber, large generating facilities, freight trains, metallurgical equipment, tools and measuring tools, mini and light motor vehicles and heavy building machines, whose output ranks first in the country and 90 per cent of the total products are transferred to other parts of the country.
My province is the leading producer of grains and storage with the total grain output of about 32 million tons. Its farming, forestry, livestock and fishery industries contribute about 50 billion Yuan ($7 billion) to the central government last year.
The province’s annual output and export of soy beans rank first in the country. Its exports of soy beans make up 60% of the country’s total. The province’s output of flax, beet and flue-cured tobacco also stands in the front row in the country.
The province’s output of flax, beet and flue-cured tobacco also stands in the front row in the country. The province’s amount of milk cows, output of milk and dairy products possess first place in the country.
This province has abundant characteristic tourism resources, as its ice and snow are the best in China. The skiing period in Heilongjiang lasts for about 170 days every year. In the mountain areas, the snow can be up to 300 cm deep on the ground. Hundreds of its mountain slopes have been developed as large scale skiing grounds. The beautiful landscape, forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes provide rich resources for developing eco-tourism. Heilongjiang Province has fully utilized its special ice and snow resources to attract both national and international tourists.
In recent years, the guests that visit these skiing resorts have passed the million mark, creating hundreds of millions of dollars.
Because of these resorts, the local government was able to improve and increase the airports to accommodate more tourists by air.
Wild Animals and Native Mountain Product Resources
More than 500 kinds of wild animals inhabit this province. Out of these, 16 are the state’s top-level protection animals, such as the Northeast tigers, red-crowned cranes and white cranes; 57 are second-level protection animals, such as red deer , brown bears and swans. There are 105 kinds of aquatic resources including chum salmon, a specialty in cold areas.
The snow season is long and the quality of snow superb, making Heilongjiang an ideal place for tourists who love ice.
The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival features colossal ice-figure engravings and snow sculptures that can almost match with the grandeur of nature, while the international Skiing Festival offers many exciting activities on snow.
There are over a dozen magnificent and exciting skiing fields at Yabuli and Erlong Mountain , offering tourists with much pleasurable experiences.
According to investigation, my friends told me that summer is very delightful in Heilongjiang , as the rivers and lakes with the green forests make province an ideal place for summer resort.
One thing that has attracted me most is the historical relics of the Shangjing Longguan palace of the Bohai nation during the Tang Dynasty and the Shangjing Huining palace during the Jin Dynasty.
The palaces are well taken care of and you will see the weapons, clothes etc. that were used by the kings thousands of years ago. Visits to the various areas of national minorities such as Manchu, Korean, Hezhe, Elunchun, and Tahur offer special glimpses into their unique and charming culture.
In WuDalianchi, Zalong, and Sanjiang are 25 natural preservation areas, which, together with the scenic Jingbo Lake , Sun Island and Erlong Mountain , plus 50 forest parks in this province, constitute a magnificent landscape unmatched by other places.
These parks have lots of Siberian tigers, cranes, Pandas, Beers etc. which, I’m sure, in summer will make the parks more beautiful than now.
Culture, Health and Sport
Cultural undertaking and endeavours are growing at a healthy pace. Currently, there are 88 performing art troupes, 118 art and cultural centers, 97 public libraries, 40 museums and 175 archives.
Over 1.1 million volumes of archives have been open to the public. There are 45 short and medium wave radio broadcasting and relay stations, with coverage of 97%.
There are 104 TV transmission and relay stations, each having a broadcast power over 1KW. The coverage reaches 98%.
The yearly printing of newspaper is 736 million copies, magazines 79 million copies, and books 99 million copies.
Public health improves with each passing day. At the end of last year, there were 7,573 health institutions in the province, including 2,000 hospitals and clinics.
There were 120,000 beds under all health organizations, where hospitals and clinics account for 113,000 beds.
The province has about 250,000 health professionals, amongst whom 80,000 are doctors and rest are nurses and technicians.
In addition the province has 382 immunization and health institutions for women and children, employing 3,333 professional health workers.
This province is for winter games and some basketball. No football, in fact no football stadium can bee seen only swimming pools, Ice Hockey pitches that they also use for Figure skating.
Indeed, they have been doing well in winter sports and just last month all the gold medals in the Skiing tournament were won by men and women in Harbin .
Environment protection is rapidly moving forward with distinguished achievements.
In 2006, the province’s environmental protection system has about 10,000 persons under its employment, with ten environmental monitor stations of different administrative levels, and 1,466 environmental surveyors.
Heilongjiang Province has established economic and trade relations with more than 150 countries and regions, with a total import and export volume reaching US$4.99 billion in 2006.
Both border trade and barter trade value of the province rank first in the country for the same year. Export items total 4000, where major items include oil, grain, soybean, timber, petroleum, coal and flax.
By the end of 2000, the province had utilized direct foreign fund of US$7.24 billion. Of that figure, 6,445 approved projects were contracted for a total of US$7.3 billion direct foreign funds, and a total of US$4.72 billion had been realized in actual foreign investment.
At present, traders who invested in the province come from 58 countries and regions. These world famous firms and transnational companies investing in the province include Mitsubishi Co., Marubeni Co., Nichimen Co. Ltd., Nestle Co.ltd., John Deere Co., Daewoo Co., Israel U.D.I. Ltd., Chai Tai group, H.K Whampoo Co., China Resources Group, Jiali Group and Taiwan Unified Group.
The China Harbin Economic and Trade Fair, approved by the State’s Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation bureau, has, since its inception in 1990, been held for the last twelve years at the city of Harbin, from June 15 to June 21 each year.
Every year there is over 6,000 enthusiastic participants coming from Russia, Eastern Europe and many neighbouring or faraway countries and regions to discuss and complete transactions on trade and economic co-operations.
By Austin Thomas