The Port of Yantai lies on the shores the Shandong Peninsula off the Yellow sea in Shandong Province in northeast-central People’s Republic of China. It is a major harbor and seaport with far-reaching road and rail connections to the cities of the province. The Port of Yantai is Shandong’s largest fishing port with a vibrant economy. The city received its name from the 1398 AD watchtowers on Mount Qi that were used to raise alarms on the appearance of Japanese pirates. In 2007, over 2.1 million people lived in the metropolitan area.
The Port of Yantai was known in the West as Zhifu, actually the name of an island in the natural deep-water harbor that has long been home to a seaport. Anglo-French forces occupied the port in 1860, forcing its opening to foreign trade as it became by treaty an international port in 1861. The Port of Yantai was the site for negotiations in 1876 between Britain and China that ended with the opening of more treaty ports and to a Chinese minister at London’s Court of St. James.
Despite its status as a treat port, the no foreign settlements or concessions were located in the Port of Yantai. However, many foreign traders lived in the city, leading to active trade in the late 19th Century. Exports at the time included beans, silk, and local produce. Steamships took goods to junks that served smaller coastal ports.
Through the late 19th Century, the Port of Yantai was little more than a fishing village. In the last decade of the 19th Century, the Port of Yantai’s population doubled, but its commerce was all but ruined after 1898 when the Germans developed the Port of Qingdao on the peninsula’s southern coast. Like other ports in northern Shandong, the Port of Yantai stagnated for the first half of the 20th Century. Its revival came in 1956 when the railways linked it to Lancun.
In 1914, the Jiaodong Circuit of the new Republic of China was located in the Port of Yantai, and the city was part of the anti-Japanese revolutionary committee in 1938. After the birth of the People’s Republic of China in 1950, Yantai received city status, and several municipalities were merged with Yantai City to create the Yantai Region.
In 1984, the Port of Yantai was designated as an open city, and foreign investment was invited, simulating considerable growth. New industries have grown up producing machinery, processed foods, textiles, electronics, auto parts, construction equipment, instruments and meters, and metallurgical products. Gold trading and working have become important to the Port of Yantai economy, and traditional products like wines, wooden clocks, locks, and tinned foods continue to be stable exports.
The Port of Yantai is an important strategic location for China’s defense. Together with the Port of Dalian (about 160 kilometers north across the bay), the Port of Yantai is the main point for coastal guards for Beijing. Since it became a prefecture-level city in 1983, the Port of Yantai has focused on modernizing and developing as an economic center for the province.