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Published: May 2009

Parallel Rivers

Muscling over the Nu River

Searching for Shangri-La

Two visions of the future compete for the soul of China’s western frontier.

By Mark Jenkins
Photograph by Fritz Hoffmann

A cheerful group of Chinese tourists, all from eastern cities, are pushing against an enormous Tibetan prayer wheel.

On a bus tour of China's wild west, they're having fun trying to get the giant instrument spinning. No less than 50 feet tall and 25 feet in diameter, the Fortunate Victory Prayer Wheel depicts, in bas-relief, China's 56 ethnic groups working together in fabled harmony.

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