In front of a steep, meter-high sand dune, Cheng Zhe stops his pickup. So far, the only obstacles he’s come across during the 50-kilometer drive from his home to the edges of the Taklamakan Desert have been potholes the size of his truck’s tires.
A fence made from reeds to each side was meant to protect the asphalt from the encroaching sands, but from here on, the road belongs to the desert.
“It’s our way of stopping the desert from expanding,” Cheng said, eyeing the fence. In the face of the growing desert, the little reed fence had a short life span: Sand has gobbled it up, then spread out onto
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