LHASA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Although it had been a month since he was in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Liang Nanyu often had dreams about being on the vast prairie in Tsonyi County of northern Tibet.
"Several times when I woke up, it took me a while to remember that I was in Beijing, and not in Tsonyi," said Liang.
Liang, from the Beijing-based China National Petroleum Corporation, spent six years in Tsonyi helping develop the county, under the policy of China's pairing-up assistance program for Tibet.
Under the policy, some central state organs, provincial-level regions including Beijing and Shanghai, and centrally administered state-owned enterprises were tasked with providing assistance to specific areas of Tibet.
With an average altitude of over 5,000 meters, Tsonyi County is China's highest county, where oxygen in the air is a mere 40 percent of that on the plain. Its winter lasts 10 months, with the lowest temperatures reaching minus 40 degrees Celsius.
Liang still remembers when he first arrived in the county in 2016. After just a month, he had lost over 5 kg due to severe high-altitude sickness, which includes insomnia and headaches.
"Life was so hard there, but I decided to make my hard life meaningful," he said.
Being appointed as executive deputy head of Tsonyi, within two months, he visited all the townships and villages, finding that local residents had few industries to generate income.
After a series of investigations, with the help of his colleagues, he found that a lake in the county was rich in artemia cysts, or brine shrimp eggs, with an excellent hatching rate. The brine shrimp eggs are known as a highly nutritious food source for fish, shrimp and crabs.
Liang insisted on living in a lakeside tent for more than 10 days, surveying the feasibility of developing the brine shrimp egg industry.
Norbu Dradul, a township-level Party official in the county, recalled the temperature being lower than minus 20 degrees Celsius, and there were no heaters in Liang's tent.
"His lips were cracked, and the skin on his face was peeling. We tried to persuade him to return, but to no avail. He said that if it would result in the success of the industry, any hardship would be worth it," said Norbu Dradul.
Liang also contacted more than 30 companies engaged in the processing and sales of the brine shrimp eggs.
Liang's efforts paid off. In 2018, the county's brine worm eggs were sold at 70,000 yuan (about 10,320 U.S. dollars) per tonne, 8,000 yuan per tonne higher than before.
Partly thanks to the brine shrimp egg industry, Tsonyi County was lifted out of poverty at the end of 2019.
In 2021, the sales of brine worm eggs in the county amounted to more than 40 million yuan, bringing more than 15 million yuan of income to local residents.
Liang also coordinated his company to donate medical equipment, such as a breathing machine and a laparoscope, to the county's hospital, and send more than 30 doctors in Tsonyi to be trained in larger hospitals out of the plateau. Now, simple surgeries, such as an appendicectomy, can be done in the county.
Under the policy of pairing-up assistance for Tibet, central state organs, provincial-level regions, and centrally administered state-owned enterprises have injected 52.7 billion yuan into Tibet through 6,330 projects between 1994 and 2020. They also selected and dispatched 9,682 cadres to the region.
Liang was glad to find that most of the 14,000 residents in Tsonyi had been relocated to Singpori, a community on the north bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River in the city of Shannan at an altitude of 3,600 meters.
"Their life has been getting better and better, and my life has been more colorful because of my experience in Tsonyi," said Liang.