Zhejiang

 

is named after the Zhejiang River (crooked river, now called the Qiantang River) which passes through its capital.  The province’s name is often shortened to ‘Zhe’.  Zhejiang has the East China Sea to its east, beyond which lie the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.  To the north are the Jiangsu province and the Shanghai municipality; Anhui province is to the northwest; Jiangxi to the west and Fujian to the south.


History

Zhejiang, also spelled Chehkiang or Chekiang, was not influenced by early Chinese civilisation but was populated by a people known collectively as the Yue during the Shang Dynasty. In the Spring and Autumn Period, a state of Yue that was heavily influenced by the Chinese further north emerged in northern Zhejiang.  In 473, under King Goujian of Yue, this state destroyed the state of Wu which was a major power at that time.  In 333 BC, Yue was in turn conquered by Chu, and then later the state of Qin unified the Chinese empire in 221 BC by subjugating all the states in China.

Although it was under unified Chinese control during the Qin and Han dynasties, Zhejiange was still inhabited by Yue peoples with their own political and social structures.  Near the end of the Han Dynasty, minor warlords Yan Baihu and Wang Lang were in power in Zhejiange, followed by Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who eventually founded the Kingdom of Wu, which was one of the Three Kingdoms.

When northern nomadic people conquered all of North China and established the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern Dynasties, huge numbers of refugees poured into South China, which accelerated the spread of Chinese culture throughout South China, including Zhejiang.

The Sui Dynasty re-established unity and it was during this time that the Grand Canal of China was built, linking Hangzhou to the North China Plain and linking Zhejiang with the centres of Chinese civilization.  During China’s Golden Age, the Tang Dynasty, Zhejiang was part of the Jiangnandong Circuit and people began to note its growing wealth.  When the Tang Dynasty broke up, Zhejiang made up most of the territory of the regional kingdom of Wuyue.

Unity was re-established during the Northern Song Dynasty around 960 and South China’s prosperity began to over that of North China.  After the north was lost to the Jurchens in 1127, Zhejiang was at its zenith.  Its capital Hanghou was the capital of the Han Chinese Southern Song Dynasty which held on to South China. Famous for its beauty and wealth, it may have been the world’s largest city in its day.

From that time on, Zhejiang and its neighbouring south Jiangsu, have been synonymous with luxury and opulence in Chinese culture. Hangzhou’s political might waned with Mongol conquest and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in 1279, although the city continued to prosper.  Marco Polo visited the city (which he called ‘Kinsay’), and dubbed it “the finest and noblest city in the world.”

The Ming Dynasty drove out the Mongols in 1368 and were the first to set up Zhejiang Province; since that time, the borders have remained largely the same.

After the People’s Republic of China took over mainland China in 1949, the Taiwan-based Republic of China government continued to control the Dachen Islands off the coast of Zhejiang until 1955, even setting up a rival Zhejiang provincial government there.  The situation was in fact very similar to that of the Fujian province today.

Economy

Zhejiang is known as the Land of Fish and Rice, and rice is indeed the province’s main crop, followed by wheat.  The Zhoushan fishery is the largest in the country and north Zhejiang is the center of aquaculture in China. 

Two products always associated with China, tea and silk, are also important to Zhehiang’s economy.  What is regarded at the finest Chinese tea, the renowned Longjing tea, is produed in Hangzhou, and the province leads all of China for tea production as a whole.  In silk production. Zhehiang is ranked number two out of all the provinces.

Zhehiang has made itself one of the richest provinces by following its own development model,dubbd the ‘Zhejiang model’, which is based on setting priorities and encouraging entrepreneurship.  The Zhejiang model nurtures many small businesses that cater to market whims; public investments into infrastructure and producing low cost bulk goods for both domestic use and export.  The ‘Zhejiang spirit’ has become legendary in China,although economists worry that the model may not sustainable, particularly as it takes a toll on raw materials and does not particularly prepare businesses to become more sophisticated or technologically advanced.

Important commercial ports include Ningbo,Wenzhou, Taizhou and Zhoushan.  When completed, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge being contructed between HaiyanCounty andCixi will be the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.

The per capital disposable income of city dwellers in Zhejiange showed real annual growth of 10.4 percent in 2005, rising to 16,294 yuan (US$ 2,009), while rural residents saw their per capita of pure income rise to 6.660 yuan, a real growth of 6.4 percent annually.




Demographics

The vast majority of people in Zhejiang are Han Chinese, with the two largest minorities being the She and Hui nationalities.

Culture

Linguistically Zhejiang is extremely diverse, in large part because of the province’s mountainous nature which isolated individual groups of people. Zhejiang inhabitants speak Wu, but Wu dialects can be so diverse that one village’s dialect can be incomprehensible to villagers in the next valley a few kilometres away.  Non-Wu dialects are also spoken, mainly along the borders.  People from Zhejiang are stereotyped to have a poor grasp of Standard Mandarin but an amazing capacity for entrepreneurship and hard work.

Zhejiang is home of one of the most prominent forms of Chinese opera, Yueju, which is traditionally performed only by females, in both female and male roles.  Other important opera traditions from Zhejiang include Yongju, Shaoju,Oujo, Wuju, Taizhou Luantan and Zhuji Luantan.

Probably the most prestigious Chinese tea, Longjing tea or dragon well tea, originated in Hangshou.  And Hangshou is also renowned for two items strongly associated with China and the east as a whole – silk umbrellas and folding fans.  Zhejiang cuisine is one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine and is subdivided into many traditions, including Hangzhou cuisine.

Famous for their prosperity and opulence since ancient times, north Zhejiang and neighbouring south Jiangsu have long lent poets their place names.  By merely inserting these place names, poets could achieve a sense of dreaminess and splendour, and many famous poets did just that. There is one popular saying that swells local hearts with pride .  . .”Above there is heaven; below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou”.

Famous people

These are famous people with strong ties to Zhejiang, although they might not have been born there:

Zhang Binglin (1868-1936), linguist
Cai Yuanpei (1868 – 1940), educator
Lu Xun (1881 – 1936), prominent writer, father of modern Chinese literature
Chiang Kai-Shek (1887 – 1975), President of the Republic of China
Xu Zhimo (1893-1931), poet
Hu Zongnan (1896 – 1962), general
Mao Dun (1986 - -1981), novelist
Chen Cheng (1897 – 1965), Premier of the Republicof China on Taiwan
Zhu Ziqing (1898 –1948), writer and poet
Ba Jin (1904 – 2005), writer
Chiang Ching-kuo (1910-1988), President of the Republic of China on Taiwan

Tsien Hsue-shen (b. 1911), the Father of Chinese Rocketry
Jinyong (b. 1924), Wuxia writer










 

Tourist Attractions

Favourite sites for site-seers include:

Baoguo Temple, the oldest intact wooden structure in Southern China.
Putuo Shan, one of the most famous Buddhist mountains of China, associated by Chinese Buddhists with Guan Yin.
Qita Temple, Ningbo.
Shaoxing, Wuzhen and other waterway towns.
The ancient capital of Hangzhou
Tiantai Shan, an important mountain to Zen Buddhists
West Lake, in Hangzhou
Yandang Shan, a scenic mountainous area north of Wenzhou
Qiandao Lake, literally ‘Thousand-island Lake’.

Colleges and Universities

University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China
Zhejiang University
Zhejiant University of Technology
Ningbo University
Zhejiang Normal University
Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics
Hangzhou Dianzi University


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