I joined the Communist Party of China 37 years ago, and I was assigned to work at the police station in the Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark more than two decades ago, when I retired from the army.
Working in such a deserted place with its extreme climate and odd geological conditions, my colleagues and I have encountered dangers many times-some of them life-threatening.
One time, our car broke down halfway to the downtown (of Dunhuang) as my colleague and I went to buy daily necessities.
We waited there to be rescued, but no one showed up, even after several hours (the area's strong magnetic field prevents the use of cellphones and other communication equipment). We had to abandon the car and turn back to our station, 40 kilometers away, on foot.
That was at noon on a hot summer day. The land surface temperature was estimated to be about 70 C. We had only walked a few km, when our shoes began to fall apart because of the heat. So, we wrapped our clothing around our feet, hoping we could finally make it back.
Things were not easy. We were thirsty, but we had no water. In response, we started to dig the soil, and finally found some salty water to drink 1 meter down. It was like swallowing salt, but it saved our lives.
For five days, we lived on a small amount of water and some grass roots. We were eventually saved when we were discovered by a mining truck that was passing by.
In 2019, I was honored as one of the most outstanding police officers at the grassroots level, and I went to Beijing to pick up the award.
I think half the prize belongs to my colleagues-who have worked with me at the risk of their lives-while my family members, who have sacrificed so much to support my job, deserve the other half.
When I first started working at the station, my daughter was only 7 years old, and now, my grandson is the same age. Over the past two decades, there have been so many times that I wasn't by their side when they needed me.
In 2014, my daughter was in a critical condition while delivering my grandson, and she was transferred to Lanzhou, Gansu's capital, for treatment. I wasn't there with her-I couldn't be reached because I was looking for a group of tourists who had gone missing in Lop Nor at the time.
A week later, when the tourists had been found, I rushed to Lanzhou. Thankfully, my daughter was already out of danger. The moment she saw me standing in the ward, my daughter, who had always showed understanding and support for my job, couldn't help crying.
"As my father, you never had time to care about my studies or celebrate my birthday with me. Even when I was in the most dangerous moment of my life, you were not by my side," she said.
Hearing those words, I felt so sorry and sad. But as a police officer, I provide hope for so many people in danger, who also need help.
In June, I will retire from the station. I never regret having devoted such a large part of my life to my work at the station. I will stay here until the last day of my career.
Li Shengshou spoke with Zhao Xinying.