Port of Nanjing
Review and History

The Port of Nanjing (formerly Nanking) lies on the Yangtze River in east-central China about 170 kilometers northwest of Shanghai. The Port of Nanjing has a long and rich history. The name Nanjing, which it received in 1421 by the Ming Dynasty, means “Southern Capital,” and the city has served that role many times. The Port of Nanjing enjoys economic and jurisdictional autonomy almost equal to that of a province. It has been a national center for commerce, transportation, education and research, and tourism for many centuries. In 2003, the Port of Nanjing was home to almost 3.0 million people, and over 3.6 million lived in the urban area.

Port History

A castle was built there in 472 BC by the Yueh state, and the Port of Nanjing’s recorded history goes back to 770 BC. One of South China’s oldest cities, legend says that the Lord of the State of Wu, Fu Chai, founded the Port of Nanjing in 495 BC. In 333 BC, a city was built there that has since been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

During the Three Kingdoms Period, the Port of Nanjing became a capital for the first time in 229 AD. It remained a capital through several regimes until the turn of the 6th Century, when the Sui Dynasty all but destroyed the Port of Nanjing. During its period of regal status, the Port of Nanjing grew to about a million people, and its economy boomed. The city produced many philosophers, scholars, artists, poets, and calligraphers. Taoist and Buddhist temples sprang up throughout the Port of Nanjing.

From the late 6th Century until 1368, the Port of Nanjing again held royal status. It became the capital of the Southern Tang Kingdom, and it swelled with a prosperous textile industry during the Song Dynasty. The Mongolian conquerors further supported its position as a hub for the textile industry.

The Ming Dynasty’s first emperor made it the nation’s capital in 1368, and he protected it by building the world’s longest city wall that took 200 thousand workers and 21 years to complete. The wall stands today, making it the oldest surviving city wall in the world. In 1421, the capital was moved to Peking, and the Port of Nanjing was named Nanking.

Continued growth in industry and the trades brought wealth to the Port of Nanjing, and the shipyards northwest of the Port of Nanjing produced ocean-going vessels. The city’s most important industries at the time were printing, pottery, weaving, and making brocade. It was home to an Imperial college that brought students from all over China, Japan, Okinawa, Thailand, and Korea. From 1358 to 1425, Port of Nanjing was likely the most populous city in the world.

During the Manchu Dynasty from 1644 to 1912, the Port of Nanjing was renamed Chiang-ning, and became the seat of the viceroy of Kiang-nan. The treaty that ended the Opium War was signed there in 1842. In 1853, the Port of Nanjing was taken over by forces of the Taiping Rebellion. When it was capital of the T’ai-p’ing T’ien-kuo, or “Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace,” in the middle of the 1800s, the Port of Nanjing was a commune that observed equality of the sexes, universal brotherhood, and common ownership of property. The 1864 overthrow of the Taipings brought destruction of many public buildings, temples, and the city wall and the death of many residents to suicide or warfare.

Recovery from the devastating destruction took many years, and foreign trade did not begin in the Port of Nanjing until 1899 when modern communications and industry had reached the city. The railroad reached the Port of Nanjing in 1908, bringing economic growth until the 1911 revolution. Revolutionary leaders made the Port of Nanjing the capital of the new Republic of China, and their democratic constitution was adopted there. Struggles for control of the Republic ended with the capital being moved to Beijing.

In 1927, General Chiang Kai-shek made the Port of Nanjing once again the capital of the Republic of China and made the Presidential Palace his headquarters. Warlords governed the Port of Nanjing for over a decade. The city’s industries grew, and the Port of Nanjing was modernized with modern boulevards, new government buildings, new railroad stations and airfields, and the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum.

Progress stopped when the Japanese took the Port of Nanjing in 1937, sacking the city and killing as many as 300 thousand civilians (now known as the Nanking Massacre). The Japanese established a bacteriological research facility there where their doctors experimented on humans. The city was ruled by a Japanese puppet government until the end of World War II in 1945, competing with Chiang Kai-Shek’s government. After the war ended, the Republic’s government moved back to Port of Nanjing.

In the spring of 1949, the Port of Nanjing was conquered by the People’s Liberation Army, ending the period of the Republic. The Port of Nanjing became the capital of the Jiangsu province in 1952, which it remains today, although the Taiwanese government continued to call it the capital of the Republic of China until 2002.

After World War II, the Port of Nanjing became a modern industrial city, in spite of the difficulties attending the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Port of Nanjing has for the most part prospered under the Communist government, and it has continued to be an important destination for tourists.

In the 1950s, the government built many state-owned heavy industries in the Port of Nanjing, including steel, mechanical, chemical, and electrical factories. They made mistakes, though, shrinking the Port of Nanjing’s economy in the late 1960s. Today’s industrial profile resembles that of the 1960s, with iron and steel, power, petrochemicals, electronics, and cars being the major industry groups.

Today, the City of Nanjing is competing for foreign investment with other cities in the Yangtze River Delta, and it has won several famous companies including Volkswagen, Sharp, Iveco, and A.O. Smith. China’s membership in the World Trade Organization has brought greater attention from foreign firms, and two of them established offices in the Port of Nanjing each day.

To encourage investment, the Port of Nanjing is building big industrial parks, yet the city’s GDP falls behind that of its neighboring cities. Its state-owned enterprises can not compete with the new multi-national firms, resulting in many job layoffs. Still, the city residents’ income far outstripped that of nearby rural areas, and its unemployment rate is lower than the national average.

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