Not Texas: Daqing China

Daqing is a city in Chinese northern Heilongjiang province. Roads there are wide and flat. Trucks and cars go fast, continuously honking. There is no teeming crowd. Streets are deserted at 9 pm. It feels empty. The blue sky is always visible, no tall building to stand in the way. During the daytime, light is hard. You can see the stars at night. It just doesn’t feel like China. You are in the Chinese West.

Daqing is also the biggest Chinese oil field. The city didn’t exist 50 years ago. It was founded in 1959 when Chinese discovered oil in the region. The subsoil of the area abounds with oil. Pump jacks are literally everywhere, at every street corner, in parking lots, between apartment blocks, in amusement parks, behind malls, along the sidewalk. They fill the landscape with their regular nodding. Even if they are the symbol of an economic system bound to fail and be replaced, the strangeness of their presence in the city within such diverse surroundings appealed to me.

I have never been to Texas, but what I experienced in Daqing is close to my idea of Texas : a sunburned land with infinite roads lined with pump jacks.

Fabien Seguin

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