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N 42° 45′ 18′′, E 96° 58′ 25′′
1,251 MASL
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Sven Hedin, David Hummel and Erik Norin in their Christmas camp at Sebestei in 1927. While traveling through the Black Gobi Desert during the first Sino-Swedish Expedition (February 1927–May 1928), Hedin suffered from gallstones and had to rest at Sebestei for nearly a month. Geographer Erik Norin surveyed the spring (42.7552° N, 96.9776° E) and marked it on the map as Norin-Sebestei-Bvlag, “Bvlag” meaning “spring” in Mongolian.

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China’s new Mazongshan border gate completed in 2007, with Mongolia’s Greater Gobi Strictly Protected Area (SPA) in the background. Although it was the only border port between Mongolia and China’s Gansu Province, port operations were unilaterally suspended by Mongolia in August 1993 after the United Nations objected to the construction of a highway through the SPA. Uncertainty surrounds the resumption of port development despite nearly two decades of bilateral negotiations.

1645: The Hexi Corridor (or Gansu Corridor) was the artery of the ancient Silk Road. Mazongshan region, which is located at the northwestern end of the Hexi Corridor, witnessed increasing trade activities after 1645, when Qing started to implement trade opening with Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia.


1736: A north-south trade route, which crossed the Qilian Mountains and the Hexi Corridor and connected Tibet, Qinghai, Mongolia, and Russia started to flourish during the Qianlong period. Natural springs were critical in sustaining the camel caravans that pass through the Black Gobi located to the north of the Qilian Mountains. Gongpoquan spring near Mount Mazongshan and Sebestei spring near Mount Baitag Bogd were the two major springs used by caravans in the Black Gobi.


1759: The Qianlong Emperor established the Viceroy of Gansu in 1759, with its headquarter in Suzhou (now Jiuquan). The following year, the Viceroy of Gansu was replaced by the Viceroy of Shaan-Gan, which had jurisdiction over Shaanxi and Gansu, as well as western Inner Mongolia.


1866: General Zuo Zongtang was appointed the Viceroy of Shaan-Gan in 1866 and the Imperial Commissioner in charge of military affairs in Gansu in 1867.


1873: Zuo won the battle at Suzhou, the last stronghold in Hexi Corridor in west Gansu during the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877). Zuo executed and resettled thousands of Muslims in the Hexi Corridor to prevent the possibility of future collusion between the Muslims of Gansu and Shaanxi and those of Xinjiang.


1911: The region of Outer Mongolia declared independence after the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. Warlord Ja Lama (Dambin Jansang) helped the Outer Mongolians mount an attack on the last Qing garrison at Khovd in western Mongolia.


1927: Supported by the Nationalist Government in Nanjing and led by Sven Hedin and Xu Xusheng, the Sino-Swedish Expedition (1927–1935) was an amalgam of scientific missions and grand schemes to lay out air route from Berlin to Peking and motorways and railways from Peking to Kashgar. In the early stage of the Sino-Swedish Expedition, Sven Hedin had a gallstone attack while traveling through the Black Gobi and stayed at Sebestei spring for nearly a month.


1930: In the early 1930s, during the Sino-Swedish Expedition, Birger Bohlin studied the paleontology of the Gongpoquan basin.


1937: At the dawn of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Republic government established the Governance Bureau of Mazongshan, which was later named as the Governance Bureau of Subei (literally means “north of Suzhou”).


1946: Independence of the Outer Mongolia, or Mongolian People’s Republic, was recognized by the Republic of China.


1950: People's Liberation Army forces entered the Subei region in 1950 and established the Subei Autonomous District, which was further upgraded to Subei Mongol Autonomous County in 1955.


1952: Construction of the 1,892-kilometer Lanzhou–Xinjiang Railway commenced. Starting from Lanzhou, the railway runs along the Hexi Corridor, passing by the southern side of the Mount Mazongshan and entering Xinjiang near Hongliu River.


1962: The entire Lanzhou–Xinjiang Railway was completed. China and Mongolia signed a treaty in December 1962 delimiting their common frontier. Text and maps included in Sven Hedin’s report on the Sino-Swedish Expedition (1927–1935) were used by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to support the territorial claim over the area around the Sebestei spring.


1975: Together with Great Gobi B, Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area, straddling Gobi-Altai and Bayankhongor provinces in Mongolia, was established along the Sino-Mongolian border in 1975.


1991: Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area was designated by the United Nations as an international Biosphere Reserve in 1991.


1992: Fossils of Gongpoquansaurus were found in the Gongpoquan basin during the Sino-Japanese Silk Road Dinosaur Expedition (1992–1993). The Mazongshan Port, the only border port in Gansu, was established, with the national gateway located near the Sebestei spring.


1993: The Mazongshan Port highway was completed in March 1993. Given that the planned port highway on Mongolia’s side would pass through the Great Gobi A Strictly Protected Area, the port in Mongolia was unilaterally closed in August under the pressure of the United Nations.


2003: China and Mongolia exchanged visits to the Gobi-Altai Province in Mongolia and Mazongshan in China, and Mongolia expressed its willingness to plan an alternative route to the port bypassing the protected area.


2006: The Gongpoquan Dinosaur Geological Park was established.


2012: The construction of the 2,822-kilometer Beijing–Urumqi Expressway (G7) started in September 2012. Originally envisioned during the Sino-Swedish Expedition, G7 became the world’s longest desert highway, passing through several deserts in northwestern China, including the Black Gobi in Gansu.


2017: China and Mongolia exchanged visits again regarding the resumption of the operation of the border port at Mazongshan.


2018: The G215 Highway, which runs from Pu’er City, Yunnan to Mazongshan Town, Gansu, was further extended to Mazongshan Port on the border of Mongolia.


2019: Beijing–Urumqi Expressway (G7) opened to traffic in April 2019.

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