Monk Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) journeyed west, to India, to obtain the Buddhist scriptures in AD 627. Eighteen years later he returned to Chang'an (present-day Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province), then the Tang Dynasty capital.
Based on the story of Xuanzang's pilgrimage, Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) writer Wu Cheng'en penned the famous novel, Journey to the West, one of the four great classics of Chinese literature.
Next week, more than 70 journalists from various evening newspapers will follow in Xuanzang's footsteps. But unlike the Tang monk, their purpose is to publicize China's western development program.
Xie Peng, deputy director of the China Evening News Workers Association and organizer of the journey, said China's western region boasts rich natural and cultural resources, many of which remain unfamiliar to Chinese as well as to foreigners.
The pilgrimage is designed to give more people a better understanding of the western region through their reports on economic, social and cultural progress and change.
The journey also commemorates the spirit of Monk Xuanzang in overcoming challenges to achieve his objectives, Xie said.
The journalists will begin their journey in Xi'an on May 20. They expect to arrive in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on June 5.
On the way they will travel through major cities and historical sites in Gansu Province such as Tianshui, Lanzhou, Wuwei, Zhangye, the Great Wall's Jiayu Pass and Dunhuang. They will visit places like Turpan and Gaochang in Xinjiang, finishing the journey by car.
The group is now planning the second phase of its journey for next year. They expect to leave for India from Urumqi on May 5 and return to China 20 days later.
(China Daily May 14, 2004)