The Minister Reports

Xiang kept his eyes on the armored carrier, not wanting to crash into it. It did not have taillights and the oversized tires threw immense amounts of dust into the air. A collision would be more than disastrous.

He risked a glance in the rear-view to check on the minister and the general. Both were dressed in what seemed like ballroom finery, the minister wearing a black silk suit with starched white shirt, the general in a high collar encrusted in golden oak leaves.

The carrier stopped. Xiang put the limousine in park.

The soldiers tumbled out of the carrier and formed an honor guard, weapons held tight to their shoulders.

Xiang got out, went to the minister’s door and opened it.

The general climbed out too, placing his oversized peaked cap squarely on his head.

He walked out into the marigolds, looked around.  “Yes,” he said. “This will do.”


What Pegman Saw


In 1958, Deng Xiaoping selected Haibei to be the epicenter of China’s nuclear weapons development efforts, building the Northwest Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Academy based on Soviet designs. The academy was the site of much of China’s early weapons design work, including the development of China’s first atom bomb and first hydrogen bomb. It was also the earliest site for the centralized storage of nuclear weapons.

The fact that it is also the Tibet Autonomous Region was not considered.


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  1. Cara Hartley

    The power-hungry sorts will always miss the beauty of nature.
    For some reason, this reminds me of the story about Ferdinand the Bull. I think it’s because Ferdinand is the polar opposite of people like Deng Xiaoping.
    ~Cie from Naughty Netherworld Press~

    • J Hardy Carroll

      I think it must have been the field of flowers. I totally agree that looking at this place and thinking “nuclear weapons” is warped. I remember that the first American to see Mount Shasta saw the forest and snowcapped peak with the plume of cloud being blown from the top and thought “trees and wind…SAWMILL!” Thanks for reading and commenting

  2. Joy Pixley

    Interesting to see this all from the driver’s perspective. I’m always curious about how these big events by big men (they’re almost always men) appear to the eyes of all those everyday people who surround them, who will be more strongly affected by their big decisions (since big men always have more power and money to help them resist the effects of such changes).

    Interesting bit of history, too. I wonder, was the autonomous Tibet angle not considered, or considered and dismissed, or considered and seen as a bonus — kill two birds, and all that.

  3. Anonymous

    I think it was the proximity to a hill of uranium that was the deciding factor, though having a pool of non-Chinese labor was probably another consideration. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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