City (pop., 2003 est.: 312,462), southern Sichuan province, south-central China. It is located at the junction of the Min and Yangtze (Chang) rivers. A county administration was set up there in the 2nd century BC. It first received the name Yibin in AD 742. The Chinese hold expanded there during the Song dynasty (960–1279). By the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) it was Xuzhou (Hsü-chou) superior prefecture, known to Europeans as Suifu. In 1912 it reverted to Yibin. In 1913 steamship communication with Chongqing was opened, and Yibin grew into a major collection and distribution centre. It has long been known for its salt deposits, which now supply a large chemical plant.
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The city's industry focuses on electronics, food products, and power generation. It also produces paper, silk, and leather products. The surrounding region is rich in agricultural resources, growing rice, barley, oil seeds, sesame, and tea.
The largest employer in Yibin is Wuliangye, a company best known for Wuliangye, a traditional Chinese distilled liquor . The Wuliangye Group grew from a small company employing just 300 people in 1977 into a large company employing over 20,000 on a seven square kilometer plant. According to an August 2005 article in a securities weekly, the Wuliangye Group is 72% state owned and provides 70% of the revenues of Yibin City, a major regional center at the head of the Yangtze in southeastern Sichuan. In 2004 6,225 retired military worked for the company, out of a total work force of over 20,000. One third of top management positions are held by retired members of the military. Unsuccessful efforts to diversify its business, poor transparency and a murky ownership pictures are among the company's problems today. However, liquor is not the sole product of the WuLiangye Group. It also produces many other kinds of products, such as paper, and tires. Wuliangye now contributes about 60% of Yibin's GDP.
The region's natural waterways provide transportation links with the surrounding area, and Yibin is also connected to Chongqing and Chengdu by rail and express highway. Yibin's proximity to the Yunnan and Guizhou borders also means that transportation to the provinces is available by rail and by bus. Yibin also has an airport that offers flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Guangzhou.
There are many hot springs that surround Yibin plus many other tourist attractions. Such attractions include the Bamboo Sea and the Xingwen Stone Forest. Cuiping mountain in the centre of the city provides wonderful views of Yibin.