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Long history

    It was Chaka Salt Lake that Qinghai initially exploited for its salt resources. Precisely when it was first used  as a source of salt isn't known, but it was even recorded in Han Dynasty's Chronicles, Geography Records that "There  are the Temple to the Heavenly Queen Mother, the Celestial Sea (now known as Qinghai Lake), and Salt Pond (now known  as Chaka Salt Lake) to the northwest and the northern frontier of Linqiang (now known as Huangyuan County)." And  Linqiang County had once been renamed as Salt-Qiang County during Wangmang's ruling of the Han Dynasty. As Chaka  Salt Lake was located beyond-the-Great-Wall, far away from the Central Plains, salt was collected for the  consumption  of the local people only until the People's Republic of China came into being and began the  exploitation of the salt  as a commodity on a small scale.

    The former technique of collecting and processing Qinghai common salt was quite simple. It was written in the  Xining Prefecture Annals of the Qing Dynasty that "Salt comes from heaven and cannot be used up. Mongolians use big  iron ladles to scoop up the salt and take it to markets for trading. And the local people all depend on it for survival." As for the production and sales of salt at Chaka Saltern in the Republic of China, Li Yulin wrote in his book, Qinghai Anthropogeography Records: "Mongolians carry Qing salt on horseback to Huangyuan Town to barter for highland barley-when the market was sluggish, one liter of salt for one liter of barley, and at a good time for one and a half or two liters of barley. The salt-ponds produce 6,000 or 7,000 horseloads of salt every year, which is mostly carried on camels' backs to Huangyuan and the counties of Gansu, and it also has a ready market in the Hanzhong area and the Xi'an area." The output of Qinghai salt in 1949 was 1,200 tons. Hajiang Salt-pond processed salt in a special way: the saline water was simply poured on the beach to crystallize into salt which was then collected by scraping it up with planks. The Xi'an Daily, issued on May 12, 1924, of the Republic of China reported: "Sichuan people who come to Qinghai to traffic salt bring one thousand ox-sumpters with them every year." At that time the annual output was a little more than 10,000 horseloads, amounting to about 700 tons. The Nangqian Saltern made use of the convenient local conditions to produce salt. Holes were dug into the ground, which would then fill in with saline springwater. This water would then be dried up by the sun, leaving the crystallized salt to be harvested. The salt would be taken to Yushu Prefecture, Western Sichuan, Northern Tibet, etc., for trading by salt dealers. The annual output there was about 30,000 horseloads, amounting to more than 2,000 tons.

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