Into the unknown past of Keketuohai


Miners from various places worked together at Keketuohai during the 1950s and 1960s Photo: PROVIDED TO CSST

The Sun is a Seed: Finding Lost Keketuohai is a newly released book by Feng Shou, a recipient of the prestigious Lu Xun Literary Prize. This book meticulously chronicles the one-hundred-year mining history of the No. 3 mine pit of Keketuohai, a rare metal ore deposit located in Fuyun County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Through in-depth interviews with over 100 individuals involved in the mining operations, the book provides a vivid portrayal of the dedicated individuals who toiled in the No. 3 mine pit during the 1960s and 1970s. Their relentless efforts in extracting rare metal ores not only contributed to repaying a portion of China’s foreign debt to the Soviet Union but also played a pivotal role in China’s successful development of atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, and artificial satellites. The work records the true stories of these contributors based on real historical materials, presenting a tough, yet poignant national memory.

Despite the freezing and desolate condition at Keketuohai, the miners demonstrated extraordinary resilience and determination. With remarkable wisdom and courage, they performed miracle after miracle. Amidst the harsh environment, individuals like Abdulla, affectionately known as the “Snow Mountain Eagle,” and An Guihuai, lauded for his unwavering dedication akin to Jiao Yulu [an honest government official who devoted himself tirelessly to local development], emerged as heroic figures who transcended the ordinary to achieve greatness.

In the past, Keketuohai and its inhabitants remained shrouded in secrecy, safeguarding national confidential information. However, the release of this book now unveils the untold glory and tumultuous history of Keketuohai, resurrecting the individuals who devoted their youth and even their lives to the service of their country. By shedding light on the remarkable contributions of the people of Keketuohai, this publication not only offers insight into their invaluable efforts but also exemplifies the spiritual fortitude essential for a nation’s ascent.

The Sun is a Seed: Finding Lost Keketuohai is a testament to oral storytelling, with oral testimonies from those directly involved holding the utmost credibility in reconstructing the authentic historical narrative. These oral accounts constitute a significant portion of the book, comprising two-fifths of its content. Author Feng Shou dedicated nearly a year to extensive travel, interviews, and writing, painstakingly piecing together the genuine national memory of this pivotal era.


Li Cuiling is the Chief Editor of Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.


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