The Port of Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province in central People’s Republic of China on the Jianghan Plain. Lying where the Han and Yangtze Rivers meet, it was formed in 1949 from the consolidation of three cities: Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou. Located centrally between Beijing and Guangzhou (Canton) and between Shanghai and Chongging, it is called the “thoroughfare of nine provinces.” It is an important hub for transportation, with many roads and railways meeting here. The most populous city in China, over 7.2 million people lived in the urban area in 2007.
The Port of Wuhan has become a major economic, finance, information, and education center for Central China. Its important industrial sectors are auto manufacturing, bio-engineering, pharmaceuticals, optic-electronics, manufacturing of steel, and environmental protection. The Port of Wuhan is home to 35 institutions of higher education and three development zones. It stands third among China’s cities for science and technology.
First inhabited by humans over three thousand years ago, the Port of Wuhan was a busy port by the time of the Han Dynasty from 206 BC to 220 AD. One of China’s most famous historic battles, the Battle of Red Cliffs, was fought here during the Three Kingdoms era.
Remembering that the Port of Wuhan was born when three cities (Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou) were combined, its history is their history. In the early 3rd Century, walls were built to protect the cities of Hanyang and Wuchang, and the Yellow Crane Tower was built on the Yangtze. Under the Mongols, Wuchang became a provincial capital.
The Second Opium War in the mid-19th Century ended in treaties that designated 11 Chinese cities as trading ports for the access of western powers. Hankou was one of those ports. Based on the Convention of Peking, the Hankou Lend-Lease Treaty brought over 30 square kilometers on the Yangtze under British control, and Hankou became an open trading port.
Railroads came to the Port of Wuhan in the late 19th Century, making the Port of Wuhan an important point for the transfer of goods between rail and river. Foreign interests entered the area, dividing the Hankou riverfront into merchant districts controlled by the various powers.
The 1911 Wuchang Uprising led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the birth of the Republic of China. The Port of Wuhan became the capital of a leftist government that opposed the forces of Chiang Kai-shek during the 1920s.
In 1926, the core of the Great Revolution moved to the Yangtze River Basin, and the Central Political Committee moved the capital to the Port of Wuhan. In 1927, they combined the three towns of Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou, calling the combined area Wuhan City or the Capital District. Because the government took actions that supported the people’s welfare, their actions received popular approval.
In 1938, the area suffered the Battle of Wuhan, an important battle in the Second Sino-Japanese War. When the Japanese threatened the area, the government was forced to withdraw, protected by navy patrols on the river. In October, a Chinese warship took on six Japanese fighter planes on the Yangtze River at the Port of Wuhan. Though it shot down two of the planes, it finally sank, taking 25 officers and soldiers to their deaths.
In 1996, the warship was salvaged, repaired, and made an exhibition in Jinkou. Under Japanese control after 1938, it was used as a logistics center for their South China operations. US bombing all but destroyed the Port of Wuhan in 1944.
In 1957, the First Yangtze River Bridge was completed. This 1670-meter long bridge linked the three original towns that make up the Port of Wuhan.
In July 1967, it was the site for the Wuhan Incident, when 500 thousand workers attempted to take control of the Port of Wuhan in opposition to the Cultural Revolution. Three divisions of the People’s Liberation Army were sent to Wuhan, and the workers surrendered.