A family for generations guards China’s northern border


Tumen patrols the border on horseback in winter. [Foto: proporcionada a chinadaily.com.cn]

By Yuan Hui and Yang Min

Deep in the Hulunbuir grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, three generations of one family have guarded a section connected by eight border posts for a century, making an important contribution to the security of China’s northern border.

Tumen, 55, is currently serving as the third border guard in his family lineage. According to his calculations, the total route of the family patrol has already exceeded 100,000 kilometers.

A file photo shows Tumen’s grandfather patrolling the border on horseback. [Foto: proporcionada a chinadaily.com.cn]

Tumen’s grandfather was one of the first local herdsmen to join the Communist Party of China (CCP). At that time, the task of patrolling the border was complex, but the grandfather accepted the challenge and requested to join the guards.

In 1985, when Tumen was 18 years old, he traveled to a city 20 kilometers away to enroll in the militia team. The following year, he won first place in a militia competition for shooting excellence and was selected to join the civilian force.

During his service, he was awarded the Third Class Personal Merit Award. After Tumen’s retirement, he took over the responsibility of his elderly father and officially became the third generation guard in the family.

From Border Post No. 1433 to Border Post No. 1441, Tumen has walked the 60 km border route countless times. For decades, rain or shine, he has served, and he insisted on daily patrolling, draining eight horses and wearing out six motorcycles.


Tumen (right) and his son watch the border from a watchtower. [Foto: Lian Zhen / chinadaily.com.cn]

The border section that it monitors has never had incidents of people or animals crossing. In recognition of his track record, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the Inner Mongolia Entry-Exit Border Inspection Station named Tumen an Advanced Individual in Border Defense Work and one of the Ten Best Border Guards.

From stone roads to asphalt roads, from hiking to horseback riding to driving, Tumen has seen and felt the changes in his patrol. He has experienced the transition from manual labor to modern technology.

Tumen remarked that the country is paying more attention to its border guards these days and has distributed cotton clothes, binoculars, walkie-talkies, night vision goggles and other equipment to everyone.

As the story of his family’s three generations of border guards stretches across the grasslands, more herders have been inspired to volunteer. As a result, the border guard team of the Hulunbuir Border Management Detachment has grown from dozens of people to nearly 600 people.

Huri, Tumen’s 19-year-old son, also plans to take over when his father retires.

(Web editor: 周雨, Zhao Jian)

A family for generations guards China’s northern border