The Port of Wenzhou sits on the south bank of the Ou River about 30 kilometers from the mouth of the river. The river has been the main transport route for Wenzhou in this mountainous area of Zhejiang Province. The Port of Wenzhou also administers six counties and two satellite cities. In 2002, the population of the Port of Wenzhou was almost 575 thousand, but by 2007, the metropolitan area was home to more than 2.3 million people.
China’s private economy was born in the Port of Wenzhou when its residents were leaders in developing a commodity economy, specialized markets, and household industries. Many thousands were involved in household manufacturing to develop personal businesses. Today, the Port of Wenzhou is home to 240 thousand individually-owned companies and 130 thousand private enterprises. These enterprises account for 99% of the quantity, 96% of the industrial output, 75% of the tax revenues, 95% of the exports, and 80% of the Port of Wenzhou’s employees. The “Wenzhou Economic Model” is now an inspiration in the China’s modernization efforts.
The Port of Wenzhou received its name in 675 AD. The Song Dynasty authorized it as a foreign trade port in 999, when it was home to a prosperous ship-building industry and highly regarded lacquer ware and paper-making crafts. In 1132, China established an inspection post there to control foreign trade.
The Port of Wenzhou was a treaty port, re-opened to foreign trade in 1976. For some time, tea was a significant cargo, but the port was never a major player in China’s foreign trade activities. Therefore, the Port of Wenzhou was never settled by foreigners.
In the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, the Port of Wenzhou’s economy thrived, as the Port of Wenzhou was one of the few ports still held by China. As the war progressed, trade declined for Wenzhou. It was the mid-1950s before marine trade was restored, and the city’s position recovered.
The citizens’ efforts at private enterprise in the 1970s led to renewed effort when China began to open its economy officially. Today, several thousand merchants from Wenzhou are located around the world. The Port of Wenzhou was authorized to invite investment from foreign interests in the early 1980s, further stimulating the economy. Ship-building continues to be a staple in the local economy, but the Port of Wenzhou produces many other products like processed foods, clothing, electronics, and ceramics.
The Port of Wenzhou welcomed the railway in the late 1990s, and new expressways were opened at the turn of the century. Port facilities have been expanded and improved, and the city airport is busy with regular flights to other cities in China.