Sales of aquatic products from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have jumped in recent days after going viral on Chinese social media platforms, sparking discussion and buying interest among Chinese netizens, as Xinjiang is typically famous for its deserts and Gobi Desert products, along with fruit and skewers.
Sales of salmon from Xinjiang Tianyun Organic Agriculture Co based in Karasu township, Nilka County in Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture have witnessed a continuous surge as consumers come directly for Xinjiang-produced aquatic products, Yao Dingxiang, deputy general manager of Tianyun, told the Global Times on Monday.
The company will expand production from the present 3,000 tons to an expected 6,000 tons this year and to 12,000 tons in 2025, Yao said.
Yao noted that the local environment and clean natural resources are the major advantages for cultivating high-quality aquatic products in Xinjiang, which meet international standards.
The company is cooperating with businesses in economies that are part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, while also working on connections with the five Central Asian countries.
Tianyun also exports salmon products to some Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
Besides salmon, Chinese consumers are eyeing crabs from Xinjiang, with the hashtag “Xinjiang’s big crabs have been shipped” previously trending on Sina Weibo.
A Xinjiang-based crab seller told the Global Times on Monday that she recently started selling crabs online in response to growing consumer interest. Another Xinjiang crab retailer who began online sales on Douyin last year said that she has been receiving more inquiries from consumers and friends.
Xinjiang is actually a major fishery province in northwestern China with abundant resources, including 11.45 million mu (763, 333 hectares) of water area and more than 24,000 square meters of iceberg areas, domestic news site nbd.com reported.
Xinjiang has further expanded its aquaculture area by adapting technologies to turn large areas of local saline land into usable space for cultivation.
In 2022, Xinjiang's total fishery output reached 173,000 tons, ranking second among China’s five northwestern provinces and regions, nbd.com reported. Some 4,554 tons of salmon were produced last year, accounting for 15 percent of the country’s total salmon output from the nation’s inland regions.
The total income for Xinjiang’s fishery sector reached 4.2 billion yuan ($575.82 million), an increase of 921 million yuan compared with 2019, per media reports.
Industry insiders said that the surge in sales of Xinjiang’s aquatic products partly came from the market’s rising concerns after Japan’s dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater. The region also saw an increase in sales of “seawater rice” for the same reason.
Li Dumin, Party secretary of Pahataikeli Village in Kashi Prefecture in Xinjiang, told the Global Times on Monday that sales of “seawater rice” grown in the village had risen in recent months as concerns over the security of Japan grain imports mounted.
“Seawater rice” refers to rice grown in salty soil. Home to a vast area of saline-alkali soil, Xinjiang has been developing multiple ways to transform this land into either arable farmlands or to be used for other breeding purposes.
“The main competitiveness of our rice is that the crop is cultivated in a good environment without any pollution. The rice farmland was irrigated with either glacial meltwater from the Tianshan Mountains or spring water, which are high-quality water resources,” Li explained.