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Xinjiang inspired song, “The Girl from Davanching.


Do you remember we used to teach our children the "Song of Camel Caravan" and "The
Girl from Davaching"? Both are songs composed by Wang Luobin about beautiful

In 1938, Wang Luobin, a widely respected composer from Beijing, wrote his first
Xinjiang-inspired song, “The Girl from Davanching.”
“The soil of the Davanching is hard
But the water melon is sweet
My darling is in Davanching
Qambarhan is so sweet.
Qambarhan’s hair is so long
It touches the ground
My darling Qambarhan,
Please marry me.”
Wang lived in northwestern China for more than 50 years and devoted his time there to
composing, collecting and revising ethnic folk songs. As a result, almost everyone in
China today can sing a few Xinjiang songs.
The brutal riots of July 5 in Urumqi stand in sharp contrast to the beautiful lyrics of
Wang’s songs. The reasons for the riot have been explored by the media, academics, and
government reports; everyone agrees that, in the aftermath, the vision of ethnic harmony
and unity should be stressed.
But how?
The Chinese government is already implementing plans for regional autonomy.
In Xinjiang, for example, minority people hold more than half of government posts,
which are usually hotly contested in China’s competitive job market. About 360,000
government employees in Xinjiang are from ethnic minorities.
The number of middle school bilingual classes (in both Putonghua and Uygur) was 4,500
in 2007, with a total enrollment of 145,000 students, compared with only 27 in 1999,
when the figures were first compiled.
But more certainly can be done not just by the government, but by individuals. Over the
past three decades, ethnic minorities from China’s poor western regions have been
attracted to higher paying jobs in wealthier coastal areas.
Guangdong Province, for instance, home to many of China’s thriving factories, has 1.5
million workers from ethnic minorities. Out of respect to those workers, businesses take
extra efforts to arrange special canteens, translators, and even praying areas in the
But now, with the riots in Xinjiang and the financial crisis, are businesses going to
continue these extra efforts? To have a positive answer, business owners need to have a
bigger vision. So does every citizen of China, no matter which ethnic group they belong
For example, in schools where students from different ethnic groups are studying side by
side, are they being provided with sufficient opportunities to learn a b o u t each other’s
cultures and customs? Or when city dwellers dine at increasingly popular ethnic
minority-themed restaurants, will they take a little extra time to learn some language and
culture and become more knowledgeable about the enormously rich ethnic cultures in
Actions are always needed to support this vision, but particularly now.
The tourism industry plays an important role in promoting understanding between people
of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and those from all the rest of China. It also boosts
Xinjiang’s economic growth.
Kashgar, for example, a historical town whose population is mostly Uygur, attracts
millions of tourists from home and abroad every year. However, the riots are certainly
going to exert a negative effect on the city’s tourism, as indicated by the sudden
cancellation of tourist visits there. But as life comes back to normal in Xinjiang, we
should travel there to show our support for the locals.
Wang Luobin, despite being a Beijinger, was passionately dedicated to Xinjiang culture.
He knew that the immensely rich Chinese heritage was not created by any one ethnicity,
but by the union of cultures which has made China one of the most diverse and respected
civilizations in the world over the period of 5000 years.
Now what about you and me?
Tian Wei is the host of “Dialogue” on CCTV's English Channel, and the main anchor of
CCTV's special coverage of important domestic and international events. Previously,
Tian worked in Washington D.C. as a correspondent, and covered the wars in Iraq and

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