The old Silk Road city of Kashgar in far western China is the most remote but also the most crucial gate to guard against terrorism. Chinese soldiers and their families have made incredible sacrifices and are devoted to defending this frontline where terrorists in Afghanistan never stop their attempts to infiltrate. This is one place you would not expect to find the makings of true love.
The bride, now in her most beautiful dress, has waited for this moment for years. Her husband, Song Xueliang, is a counter-terrorist soldier defending one of China’s most dangerous borders, the Khunjerab Pass. The Pass links China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is also a route used by terrorists to infiltrate into China and launch deadly attacks against civilians.
But on this day, along China’s frontier against the war on terror, it is full of festivity. Soldiers of both China and its ally, Pakistan, have come to witness this day for the new couple. Ever since Song Xueliang was sent to Khunjerab two years ago, he says he has been ready to die to defend his country. The name Khunjerab is derived from the Wakhi language meaning “Blood Valley.”
With an altitude of nearly 5,000 meters, the high mountain pass is known for its extreme cold, leaving soldiers with frostbitten hands. Stationed in the remotest western border of the country means Xueliang can hardly see his wife, Xiaomei, whose hometown is on China’s eastern coast. They must rely on video messaging to talk and to see each other while they’re thousands of miles apart.
Last month Xiaomei made what she says was the bravest decision of her life. No longer wanting to suffer the separation, the young woman gave up everything in eastern China to come all the way to the western border and settle down in Kashgar. She’s now prepping for exams, trying to find a job in a strange town.
On August 1, the Army’s Day, they held their wedding — determined to stand together no matter what was going to happen on the frontline of China’s war on terror. Xiaomei said standing in her wedding gown along the frontline is a dream she had ever since her husband became a soldier. Xueliang has just a few days off after the wedding — he will soon return to the frontline in his call of duty. Along the long and sensitive borders of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorists have never stopped their attempt to sneak into China. Behind the duty of all soldiers stationed here, each of them has a story of devotion and sacrifice. CCTV’s Han Peng reports from Kashgar, Xinjiang.
This story is part of our special series “Defending Kashgar.”