Memories on the Films of Last Century:
A Vanished Province 02-25-2005 15:28

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In the 1940s, China was divided between the Communists and the Guomindang. There were also other areas under local warlord control. The western part of Sichuan province was then known as Xikang. Bordering Tibet, the region had a mixed population of Tibetans and Han Chinese. It was under the control of the warlord Liu Wenhui who came from a peasant family. At the beginning, he was aligned with the Guomindang, although his relationship with Chiang Kai-Shek was unstable. The remote province of Xikang would play a pivotal role in the ongoing civil war.

Liu Wenhui tried to establish the infrastructure needed to support the remote province. Its transport was primitive and it had no industry to speak of. Large projects such as the hydroelectric plant promised to bring the area into the modern world. Liu Wenhui also promoted education as a way to improve Xikang鈥檚 situation. County schools were often better built than the local government buildings. The county magistrate鈥檚 job depended on it.

Liu Wenhui began as a warlord and ended up a revolutionary. He switched sides from his half-hearted alignment with the Guomindang to siding with the Communists in 1949. For the rest of his life, the former warlord served in various capacities in the Communist party. Although Xikang ceased to exist in 1956 as part of the land reform, Liu Wenhui鈥檚 measures gave the area a solid basis for development. The hydroelectric plant he constructed in 1944 is still in operation. Kangding, once the provincial capital, is now a thriving town.


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