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Wuhu: The Pearl of Anhui Province

Wuhu: The Pearl of Anhui Province
Photo: Zhai Junxi
Located in the southeast of Anhui Province, and the southern bank of lower reaches of the Yangtze River, with mountain ranges of the Southern Anhui in the south and Jianghuai Plain in the north, the city of Wuhu is located at the confluence of Anhui Section of the Yangtze River and Qingyi River like a bright pearl. The mighty Yangtze River flows gently from southwest to northeast of the city, while Qingyi River runs through the city from southeast to northwest, and converges into Yangtze River at last.
Photo: Zhai Junxi
In History, Wuhu has witnessed great advantage in agriculture, handicraft industry and commerce. In South Tang Dynasty, Wuhu was lined with high buildings and lamps and candles lightened in a myriad families. From Southern Song to Yuan Dynasty, Wuhu had developed into quite a prosperous town. In Ming Dynasty, Wuhu gradually grew to an important trading port among areas in lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It was known for great handicraft industries like starching and dyeing industry, which was exactly described as “the finest textile products are made in Songjiang area (Shanghai) and the best art of starching and dyeing are in Wuhu”, a quotation from “Tian Gong Kai Wu(Exploitation of the Works of Nature )” written by Song Yingxin in Ming Dynasty. All of these attributed to developing a starching & dyeing center into large scale, claiming to be “Giant Wuhu Workshop”.
In 1876, an unequal treaty---Sino-Briton “Yantai Treaty” was signed, forcing four cities including Wuhu, Wenzhou of Zhejiang Province to be trading ports. It caused great damage to the national economy and let it go lopsidedly, however, Wuhu opened the door to the world. In 1918, the cargo value of import and export from Wuhu Customs accounted for 3.5% of foreign trade of the whole country, which made Wuhu be one of the giant trading ports along the Yangtze River. Wushen canal, which starts in Wuhu and ends in Shanghai, closely connected the city with Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing and Hangzhou in terms of economy and culture. In Qing Dynasty, the rice industry prospered in Wuhu, forming four great rice markets in Wuxi, Changsha and Jiujiang. The openning of trading port made a large quantity of exotic goods flush in Wuhu then transferred to other cities .Meanwhile, a great amount of foreign banks and companies were attracted here bringing in advanced science and technology, which propeled the development of modern industry in Wuhu. The first batch of national industries of Anhui Province was set up in Wuhu.
In 1883, with the erection of wired telegraph line, Wuhu became the first city to utilize telegraph in the province. The size of Yixin Rice-flour company (milled by machine), which was in operation in 1897, ranked No.1 among factories of the same industry all over China. In 1930s, the civil aviation was run in Wuhu, direct flights to Shanghai and Wuhan. In the 20th century, there were hundreds of kinds of industry and commerce in Wuhu with five or six thousands firms. Thus, Wuhu became the birthplace of modern industries in Anhui Province and also one of the economic centers in the Yangtze River basin.
Photos 1,2,3,4: Zhai Junxi

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