Kunming (kʊn'mɪŋ; UN/LOCODE:
CNKMG) is a prefecture-level city and capital of Yunnan province, in southwestern China. Because of its year-round temperate climate, Kunming is often called the "Spring City" or "City of Eternal Spring" (春城).
Kunming is the political, economic, communications and cultural center of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government. It is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming as well. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,501 km² and its urban area covers 6,200 km². Kunming has an estimated population of 5,740,000 including 3,055,000 in the urban area and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.
Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University, Yunnan Minorities University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty. Kunming was formerly called Yunnanfu (云南府; literally meaning "Yunnan Capital") until the 1920s.
It is the leading transportation hub (air, road, rail) in SW China, with a rail connection to Vietnam and road links to Burma and Laos. Kunming currently has a new international airport under development, which is slated to be the fourth largest international airport in China. Situated in a fertile plain 640 km southwest of Chongqing, Kunming is an important trading center between the far west and central and south China. It is one of China's largest producers of copper. Copper is smelted with nearby hydroelectric power. Coal is mined, and the city has a few iron and steel complexes. Other manufactures include phosphorus, chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper, and cement. Although it was often the seat of kings in ancient times, Kunming's modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railroad from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts. Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.
From 2005 to 2010, the city of Kunming plans to nearly double in size, in terms of both population (to eight million people) and area, and it hopes to be one of the trade, transport, financial and cultural centers of Southeast Asia. Kunming's transport links to Southeast Asia and elsewhere, particularly its air links, are steadily expanding, with direct routes already existing to all major Chinese cities, most major Southeast Asian cities and some major cities in Japan and South Korea.
Key development issues for Kunming include a local educated and talent pool that is less sophisticated than larger Chinese cities and the need for increased transport links.
Historically the domain of Yunnan's earliest inhabitants and first civilization, Kunming long profited from its position on the caravan roads through to South-East Asia, India and Tibet. Early townships in the southern edge of Lake Dianchi (outside the contemporary city perimeter) can be dated back to 279 BCE, although they have been long lost to history. The first settlements were formed by a general of the Chu Kingdom near to Lake Dianchi.
The city of Kunzhou, which was just southeast of what is now known as Kunming, was established in 109 CE at the time of the Han Dynasty and during the reign of Emperor Wudi.
The Han Dynasty (205 BCE - 220 CE), seeking control over the Southern Silk Road running to Burma and India, brought much of Yunnan into China's orbit, though subsequent dynasties could do little to tame what was then a remote and wild borderland.
This changed when Tuodong came under the control of the Chinese central government with the Yuan (Mongol) invasion of the southwest in 1252-1253. In 1276 it was founded by the Mongol rulers as Kunming County and became the provincial capital of Yunnan. The city grew as a trading center between the southwest and the rest of China.
It is considered by scholars to have been the city of Yachi Fu (Duck Pond Town) where people had used cowries as cash and ate their meat raw, as described by the 13th-century Venetian traveler Marco Polo who traveled to the area and wrote about his fascination of the place.
During the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, it was the seat of the superior prefecture of Yunnan.
The area was first dubbed Kunming in the period towards the decline of the Yuan Dynasty and later still in 1832, the beginnings of a real city were acknowledged within the city walls and significant structures within their confines. Founding of the city can, therefore be said to have been a predominantly 19th century affair. It was also in this century that the city grew to become the major market and transport centre for the region.
Kunming suffered at the hands of rebel leader Du Wenxiu, the Sultan of Dali, who attacked and besieged the city several times between 1858 and 1868. Little of the city's wealth survived the 1856 Panthay Rebellion, when most of the Buddhist sites in the capital were razed. Decades later Kunming began to be influenced by the West, especially from the French Empire. In the 1890s, an uprising against working conditions on the Kunming-Haiphong rail line saw 300,000 laborers executed after France shipped in weapons to suppress the revolt. The meter-gauge rail line, only completed by around 1911, was designed by the French so that they could tap Yunnan's mineral resources for their colonies in Indochina.
Kunming was a communications center in early times and a junction of two major trading routes, one westward via Dali and Tengyue into Myanmar, the other southward through Mengzi to the Red River in Indochina. Eastward, a difficult mountain route led to Guiyang in Guizhou province and thence to Hunan province. To the northeast was a well-established trade trail to Yibin in Sichuan province on the Yangtze River. But these trails were all extremely difficult, passable only by mule trains or pack-carrying porters.
The opening of the Kunming area began in earnest with the completion in 1906-1910 of the railway to Haiphong in north Vietnam (part of French Indochina). Kunming became a treaty port opening to foreign trade in 1908 and soon became a commercial center. In the 1930s its importance grew still further when the first highways were built, linking Kunming with Chongqing in Sichuan and Guiyang in Guizhou to the east. Kunming's rail link to Hanoi was cut during World War II, restored in 1957, cut again in 1979, and reopened in 1996.
Kunming was transformed into a modern city as a result of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 when the invading Japanese forces caused a great number of east-coast Chinese refugees, some of whom were wealthy, to flood into the southwest of China. They brought with them dismantled industrial plants, which were then re-erected beyond the range of Japanese bombers. In addition, a number of universities and institutes of higher education were evacuated there (see National Southwestern Associated University). The increased money and expertise quickly established Kunming as an industrial and manufacturing base for the wartime government in Chongqing (then part of Sichuan province). These influences saw the city move towards more modern attitudes and gradually it began to resemble other major Chinese cities with thriving industrial areas and large scale residential districts.
During the Second World War, the city of Kunming was prepared as a National Redoubt in case the temporary capital in Chongqing fell, an elaborate system of underground caves to serve as offices, barracks and factories was prepared but never utilised. Kunming was to have served again in this role during the ensuing Chinese Civil War, but the Nationalist garrison turned coat and joined the Communists. Instead Taiwan would become the last redoubt and home of the Chinese Nationalist government, a role it fulfills to this day.
When the Japanese occupied French Indochina in 1940, the links of Kunming with the west, both via the newly constructed Burma Road and by air, grew increasingly vital as Allied forces provided essential support by importing materials from the British-colony Burma. By this time, Kunming acted as an Allied military command center, which grouped the Chinese, American, British and French forces together for operations in Southeast Asia, including China, India and Burma. The Office of Strategic Services' Service Unit Detachment 101 (predecessor to the 1st Special Forces Group) was also headquartered in Kunming and whose mission was to divert and disrupt Japanese combat operations in Burma.
Later on in the war, Kunming was targeted by the Imperial Japanese Air Force during their bombing campaigns, and when the Burma Road was lost to the Japanese, the American Volunteer Group, known as the "Flying Tigers", used Kunming as a base in 1941 and 1942 to fly in supplies over the Himalayas from British bases in India in defiance of Japanese assaults. They also were tasked with defending China's lifeline to the outside world, the Burma Road and the Ledo Road, which had Kunming as a northern terminus. See Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road.
Industry became important in Kunming during World War II. The large state-owned Central Machine Works was transferred there from Hunan, while the manufacture of electrical products, copper, cement, steel, paper, and textiles expanded. A university was set up in 1922. Until 1952, Kunming was a walled city. The city government in 1952 ordered hundreds of young people to tear down the wall and use its bricks to make a new road running north-south. To show its appreciation for the young people that demolished the east wall, the city government named the new street after them. Their existence still echoes today in place names like Xiao Ximen (小西门, 'Lesser west gate') and Beimen Jie (北门街, 'North gate Street'). There are also less obvious connections to the wall, such as Qingnian Lu (青年路, 'Youth Road'), which was once Kunming's east wall.
After 1949 Kunming developed rapidly into an industrial metropolis, second only to Chongqing in the southwest. A Minorities' Institute was set up in the 1950s to promote mutual understanding and access to university education among Yunnan's multiethnic population. The city consolidated its position as a supply depot during the Vietnam War and subsequent border clashes. Until Mao Zedong's death, Kunming was still generally thought in much of the rest of the country as a remote frontier settlement and so it acted as a place up to then for the government to exile people who had fallen politically out of favor, especially during the Cultural Revolution. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city center was rebuilt, with Swiss help, in its current 'modern' style to impress visitors attending the 1999 World Horticultural Exposition.
Since the economic reforms of mid-1980s, Kunming has also enjoyed increased tourism and foreign investment. Neighboring nations such as Thailand trace their ancestries back to Yunnan and have proved particularly willing to channel funds into Kunming. The city has become ever more developed and accessible as a result. Several Thai Chinese banks have offices in Kunming, for example, Kasikorn Bank and Krung Thai Bank. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand has visited Kunming many times to study Chinese culture and promote friendly relations.
On July 2005, the second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit was held in Kunming, with government leaders from China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam participating. There, China agreed to lend its neighbors more than $1 billion for a series of projects. China was then promoting GMS cooperation as a first step toward building an eventual China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
Infrastructure improvements have been underway to improve links between Kunming and Southeast Asia in time for the 2010 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which would have a population of approximately 1.8 billion. The FTA is expected to make Kunming a trade and financial center for Southeast Asia. In addition to physical improvements to enhance Kunming's trade with Southeast Asia, the central and provincial governments have made financial preparations to assist the city's emergence. At the end of 2004, the central government approved Kunming to be one of the 18 mainland cities in which foreign banks could conduct business in renminbi.
Kunming's second and current building spree in and around Kunming can be compared to the years leading up to 1999, when Kunming held its first major international event, the World Horticultural Expo. It was primarily during 1997 and 1998 that much of the city's roads, bridges and high rises were built.
The World Horticultural Expo was widely regarded as a public relations success for Kunming, which seemed to exceed almost all expectations. Today the after-effects of the Expo are apparent in more than just the physical improvements to the city - it was the Expo that made the outside world take notice of Kunming, which was relatively unknown at the time.
Kunming is located in east-central Yunnan province. It is located between north latitude 24°23´ and 26°22´N, and east longitude 102°10´and 103°40´E, with a total area of 21,600 square km. Its widest stretch from the east to the west amounts to 140 km and its largest expansion from the north to the south amounts to 220 km.
Situated in a fertile lake basin on the northern shore of the Lake Dian and surrounded by mountains to the north, west, and east, Kunming has always played a pivotal role in the communications of southwestern China. Lake Dian, titled as "the Pearl of the Plateau", is the sixth largest fresh water lake in China, is the largest lake in Yunnan and has an area of approximately 340 square kilometers.
Located at an elevation of 1,890 m on the Yungui Plateau with low latitude and high elevation, Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterised by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much less hot than the lowlands.
Controlled by a temperate plateau monsoon climate, average highs are 15 C in winter and 24 C in summer. With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the "City of Eternal Spring". The city is covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all the year round.
The period from May to October is the rainy season and the rest of the year is dry. The city has a mean annual rainfall of 1,000 mm, with an annual sunshine period of 2,250 hours and an annual frost-free period of 230 days.
Kunming's highest point is Mazong Ridge of the Jiaozi Mountain in Luquan with an elevation of 4,247 m, and its lowest point is the joint of the Xiaojiang River and the Jinsha River in Dongchuan District, with an elevation of 695 m. Its downtown area is 1,891 m above sea level.
About 96 km (60 miles) southeast of the city is the Stone Forest, a karst formation developed as a tourist attraction consisting of rock caves, arches, and pavilions. It is part of the larger karst-based landscape of the area.
Kunming has 2,585 hectares of lawns, trees and flowers averaging 4.96 square meters per capita. The green space rate is 21.7%. The city's smoke control area is 115 square kilometers and noise control area 87 square kilometers.
Kunming is a significant horticultural center in China, providing products such as grain, wheat, horsebeans, corn, potato and fruit such as peaches, apples, oranges, grapes and chestnuts. Kunming is world-famous for its flowers and flower-growing exports. More than 400 types of flowers are commonly grown in Kunming. The camellia, yulan magnolica, azalea, fairy primrose, lily and orchid are known as the six famous flowers of the city.
Camellia was confirmed by the Standing Committee of the Municipal NPC of Kunming as its city flower in 1983.
In 2004, newly discovered well-preserved soft-bodied fossils of deuterostomes from the Lower Cambrian Chengjiang deposits near Kunming represented a new group of echinoderms (a group of marine animals). Named vetulocystids, these deuterostomes were a diverse superphylum that included the chordates, hemichordates, and echinoderms. The find shed some light on the origin of the echinoderms.
The prefecture-level city of Kunming has jurisdiction over 14 subdivisions - five districts, one county-level city, five counties and three autonomous counties.
Kunming plans to add two new districts to its existing four urban districts (Panlong, Wuhua, Guandu, Xishan) over the next few years.
|Name||Chinese (S)||Hanyu Pinyin|
| Kunming City |
|Panlong District||盘龙区||Pánlóng Qū|
|Wuhua District||五华区||Wǔhuá Qū|
|Guandu District||官渡区||Guāndù Qū|
|Xishan District||西山区||Xīshān Qū|
|Dongchuan District||东川区||Dōngchuān Qū|
|Anning City||安宁市||Ānníng Shì|
|Chenggong County||呈贡县||Chénggòng Xiàn|
|Jinning County||晋宁县||Jìnníng Xiàn|
|Fumin County||富民县||Fùmín Xiàn|
|Yiliang County||宜良县||Yíliáng Xiàn|
|Songming County||嵩明县||Sōngmíng Xiàn|
|Shilin Yi Autonomous County||石林彝族自治县||Shílín Yízú Zìzhìxiàn|
| Luquan Yi and Miao |
| Lùquàn Yízú |
| Xundian Hui and Yi |
| Xúndiàn Huízú |
Kunming is the focal point of Yunnan minority culture. Twenty five ethnic minorities live in Yunnan. This is nearly half of the total number of ethnic minorities in China, and ethnic minorities make up about a third of the total provincial population. There is a strong migration from the countryside.
Of the more than five million people registered as residents in Kunming last year, more than four million were Han. The Yi people were the most prominent minority in the city, with more than 400,000 residents. The least-represented ethnic minority in Kunming were the 75 Dulong people living in the city.
Ethnic populations (as of 2006):
Kunming's public focus is the huge square outside the Workers' Cultural Hall at the Beijing Lu-Dongfeng Lu intersection, where in the mornings there are crowds doing tai qi and playing badminton. Weekend amateur theatre are also performed in the square. Rapidly being modernized, the city's true center is west of the square across the adjacent Panlong River (now more of a canal), outside the Kunming Department Store at the Nanping Lu/Zhengyi Lu crossroads, a densely crowded shopping precinct packed with clothing and electronics stores. The river is polluted, black and oily. Surrounding the area are plenty of new high-rises.
The center is an area of importance to Kunming's Hui population, with Shuncheng Jie - one of the last old streets in the center of the city - previously forming a Muslim quarter. Until shortly before 2005, this street was full of wind-dried beef and mutton carcasses, pitta bread and raisin sellers, and huge woks of roasting coffee beans being earnestly stirred with shovels. Under Kunming's rapid modernisation, however, the street has been demolished to make way for apartments and shopping centers. Rising behind a supermarket one block north off Zhengyi Lu, Nancheng Qingzhen Si is the city's new mosque, its green dome and chevron-patterned minaret visible from afar and built on the site of an earlier Qing edifice.
Running west off Zhengyi Jie just past the mosque, Jingxing Jie leads into one of the more bizarre corners of the city, with Kunming's huge Bird and Flower Market convening daily in the streets connecting it with the northerly, parallel Guanghua Jie. The market offers many plants such as orchids that have been collected and farmed across the province. In the small grounds of Wen Miao, a now vanished Confucian temple off the western end of Changchun Lu, there is an avenue of pines, an ancient pond and pavilion, and beds of bamboo, azaleas and potted palms - a quiet place where old men play chess and drink tea.
Wheatfield Bookstore (on Tianjundian Xiang) specializes in Chinese translations of international works.
The other exhibits are a well-presented repeat of the Provincial Museum's collection. There is a range of bronze drums with the oldest known example to relatively recent castings, allowing one to see how the typical decorations - sun and frog designs on top, long-plumed warriors in boats around the sides, tiger handles - became so stylized. There are also cowry-drum lids, and a host of other bronze pieces of birds, animals and people. Other rooms contain two excellent dioramas of Ming dynasty and modern Kunming, accounts (in Chinese) of the voyages of Zheng He, the famous Ming eunuch admiral, and five locally found fossilized dinosaur skeletons - including a tyranosaurus-like allosaur, and the bulky Yunnanosaurus robustus.
Because of the museum's affiliation with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it is well positioned as both a tourist attraction and a home to future zoological scholarship. Most of the visitors come with a scientific background.
Located in the west side of the park is the statue of one of Yunnan's most famous patriots - Nie Er, the composer of China's national anthem. The only inscription is The People's Musician Nie Er. Nie Er drowned in Japan in 1935 en route to the Soviet Union in his attempt to escape Chiang Kai-shek's Guomindang troops. He was 23.
Heilongtan 黑龙潭 or 'Black Dragon Pool' is far north of Kunming's city center. There is a goldfish-packed pond surrounded by beautiful old buildings and Buddhist statues and shrines. There are many gardens and at the top of a ridge in the end of the park is a grand view of Kunming.
Yuantong Si (temple) is a northern Yunnan's major Buddhist site and an active place of pilgrimage. It is Kunming's largest and most famous temple with the original structure being first constructed more than 1,200 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. Newly renovated the Qing-vintage temple is busy, with gardens of bright pot plants just inside the entrance. A bridge over the central pond crosses through an octagonal pavilion dedicated to a multi-armed Guanyin and white marble Sakyamuni, to the threshold of the main hall, where two huge central pillars wrapped in colorful dragons support the ornate wooden ceiling. Faded frescoes on the back wall were painted in the 13th-century, while a new annexe out the back houses a graceful gilded bronze Buddha flanked by peacocks, donated by the King of Thailand and the Thai government. There is vegetarian restaurant nearby on Yuantong Jie.
Jinbi Lu runs roughly parallel to and south of Dongfeng Lu, reached from Beijing Lu. Two large Chinese pagodas rise in the vicinity, each a solid thirteen storeys of whitewashed brick crowned with four iron cockerels. The West Pagoda was built between 824 and 859, during the Tang Dynasty; its original counterpart, the East Pagoda, was built at the same time, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1833 and rebuilt in the same Tang style in 1882. South down Dongsi Jie, past another mosque, the entrance to the West Pagoda is along a narrow lane on the right. In the tiny surrounding courtyard, sociable idlers while away sunny afternoons playing cards and sipping tea in the peaceful, ramshackle surroundings. The East Pagoda is a more cosmetic, slightly tilted duplicate standing in an ornamental garden a few minutes' walk east on Shulin Jie. The temples associated with both pagodas are closed to the public.
Daguan Park (大观公园) on Kunming's southwestern limits. Originally laid out by the energetic seventeenth-century Qing emperor Kangxi, it has been modified over the years to include a noisy funfair, food stalls and emporiums, and is a favourite haunt of Kunming's youth. Among shady walks and pools, Daguan's focal point is Daguan Ge, a square, three-storeyed pavilion built to better Kangxi's enjoyment of the distant Western Hills and now a storehouse of calligraphy extolling the area's charms. The most famous poem here is a 118-character verse, carved into the gateposts by the Qing scholar Sun Ran, reputed to be the longest set of rhyming couplets in China. The park is set on Daguan Stream, which flows south into Lake Dian, and there are frequent hour-long cruises down the waterway, lined with willows, to points along Lake Dian's northern shore. Lake Dian, also known as the Kunming Lake, is the largest lake on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. At Longmen of the Western Hills, there is a panoramic view of the lake.
Wenmiao Tea Garden (文庙茶园) is on Renmin Zhong Lu in the Wuhua District. It is a small tree-filled park that has a walkway, a bridge, a large pagoda and several restaurant-style booths around the edges. There is a collection of yingkesong (迎客松) aka bonsai trees. Locals play mahjong, cards and xiangqi.
The "Garden of the Word Horticultural Exposition", located in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is six kilometers from central Kunming. From May 1 to October 31 1999, Kunming held the 1999 World Horticulture Exposition, with the theme of "Man and Nature - Marching Toward the 21st Century". In the garden, visitors can see gardening and horticultural works from all over China and East Asia. All the horticultural works in the garden concentrate on the theme of "Man and Nature", with pavilions, towers, terraces, banks, islets and bridges.
The "Golden Hall Scenic Zone", located on the Mingfeng Hill in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is eight kilometers from central Kunming. Constructed in 1602 (the 30th year of the Wanli reign period of the Ming Dynasty), all of its beans, pillars, arches, doors, windows, tiles, Buddhist statues, and horizontal inscribed boards are made of copper, weighing more than 200 tons. It is the largest copper building in China.
A 12.2 m (40 ft) statue of Optimus Prime from Transformers is located near several automobile dealerships on Erhuan Xi Lu. The Transformers cartoon was broadcast in China from 1990 onwards and has a large following among youths of that generation.
Some of the most famous Kunming food is as follows:
Haigeng National Training Center is located on Lake Dianchi near Kunming's award-winning Lakeview Golf Club and new condominium developments, and is relatively isolated. It contains eight basketball courts, weight rooms, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a dozen football pitches, two running tracks, a pool for swimming and one for diving. It also has a large snooker hall, a room for table tennis and a volleyball gym. Athletes, coaches and team managers stay onsite in the complex's many dormitories and hotel rooms.
Hongta Sports Center was built in 2000 by one of Yunnan's largest corporations Hongta cigarette company with a cost of US$58 million. Near Haigeng Park, the complex is mostly used by professional athletes but also acts as a sports club for the general public. The general public can use all of its extensive facilities and every weekend, it hosts amateur football matches. Aside from about 10 football pitches, including one surrounded by a running track, Hongta also has a 50 m swimming pool, a badminton gymnasium, tennis courts and a basketball court. It also has one of China's few ice hockey rinks, and a workout room with treadmills and weightlifting machines. There are also game rooms for air hockey and pool tables, and a basement bowling alley. Hongta also has a 101-room hotel and restaurant.
Kunming has attracted foreign investment in golf course development. "Spring City" Golf Resort is a US$600 million project that began as an investment led by Singapore's Keppel Land Group in 1992. Today it is not only ranked by some as China's top golf course, but also one of the top golf destinations in all of Asia. Much of this is attributable to Keppel's financial backing in addition to having golf legend Jack Nicklaus and eminent golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design the two courses.
Major sports facilities include:
Kunming is among the most famous historical and cultural cities and one of the top tourist cities in China. Due to its pleasant climate, plateau scenery, age-old history, diverse ethnic customs, and unique plants and animals, Kunming attracts domestic and foreign tourists all year round. As the tourism center of Yunnan province, Kunming has also been a transport hub, from where tourists can go easily to places such as Dali, Lijiang and Shangrila.
Over 24 million domestic tourists visited Kunming in 2007, with 800,000 foreign tourists visiting annually. Kunming's total revenue from tourism in 2007 was 16.8 billion yuan, an increase of 8.0% over 2006.
Kunming hosts the China International Travel Mart every two years. This tourism trade fair is the largest of its kind in Asia and serves as an important platform for professionals in the sector. More than 80 countries and regions were present during the 2005 edition.
Kunming holds three distinct economic advantages over other cities in southwest China: abundant natural resources, an excellent local consumer market and the mildest climate in the region.
Due to its position at the geographical center of Yunnan, one of China's largest producers of agricultural products, minerals and hydroelectric power, Kunming is the main commercial hub for most of the province's vast resources.
Kunming's chief industries are the production of copper, lead, and zinc; its iron and steel industry has been greatly expanded. Salt and phosphate mines around Kunming are some of the largest in China. Kunming's economy was ranked 12th of all Chinese cities in 1992.
In May 1995, the State Council approved Kunming as an Open City. By the end of that year, the city had approved 929 overseas-funded enterprises with a total investment of 2.286 billion US dollars including 1.073 billion U.S. dollars of foreign capital. More than 40 projects each had an investment of more than nine million U.S. dollars.
Kunming is also a center of the engineering industry, manufacturing machine tools, electrical machinery and equipment, and automobiles (including heavy goods vehicles). It has a major chemical industry, as well as plastics, cement works and textile factories. Its many processing plants, which include tanneries and woodworking and papermaking factories, use local agricultural products. In 1997, Yunnan Tire Co. opened a tire plant in Kunming, with a capacity to produce two million tires per year.
Because of its location in the southwest of China, Kunming was generally passed over in China's rapid economic growth in the 1990s. However, recently the city has received renewed attention, launching Kunming into an international commercial hub of South and Southeast Asia.
Several railroads and highways have been planned to connect Kunming to areas of Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, providing Kunming transportation access to sea ports.
In 2006, the Chinese government approved a 2912 km oil pipeline to be built from the Indian Ocean coastal town of Sittwe, Myanmar to Kunming. This pipeline will carry African and Middle Eastern petroleum to China, bypassing some oil shipments through the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. The pipeline will cut oil transport time by two weeks. In addition, Kunming is also said to be the site for an oil refinery for the incoming oil.
As of 2008, Kunming is home to 65 of the Top 100 Enterprises in Yunnan Province. The top 100 enterprises were based on their revenues for 2007. Hongta Group, with revenues of some RMB39.88 billion for 2007 topped the list, while Hongyun Group took the third place with revenues of RMB39.23 billion. The tobacco sector remains the largest sector in the province. Top 10 Top 10 Kunming-based companies, according to Yunnan Provincial Enterprise Association :
(company; annual operating revenue; primary business)
In 2001, three years after the World Horticultural Expo, the Netherlands, a horticultural powerhouse itself, established an official presence in Kunming to help Dutch companies set up operations in Kunming. The Netherlands Business Support Office Kunming (NBSO Kunming) was established in 2002.
Kunming is the only major city in Yunnan province which has 48 million people. Real wealth has been generated in the last decade through pillar industries such as hydropower, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, tourism and the local property market. Once an economic backwater, the city of Kunming in Yunnan province has been emerging as a promising market for imported goods and services from around the world as well as goods produced by foreign invested enterprises. Kunming is quickly becoming one of China's most promising second-tier retail markets.
Modern retail stores have sprung up over the past four years. Several hypermarkets and supermarket chains, along with proliferating convenience stores, have taken root. Stores are supplying a full range of services to meet the demands of families that often shop together.
In 2006, Kunming municipality's per capita disposable income broke the 10,000-yuan mark for the first time, reaching 10,070 yuan. Given the relatively low cost of living in Kunming, city residents are increasingly spending their cash on retail goods and services. Kunming's government has begun to acknowledge the growing influence of consumer spending on local economic growth - retail spending in 2006 totaled 39.12 billion yuan, an 18.8 percent increase over 2005.
One unique aspect of the retail scene in Kunming is that there are very few centralized shopping areas offering a wide variety of goods. This is primarily due to the city's loose zoning and lack of a relatively integrated development plan. While lagging behind larger cities in categories such as concentration of high-technology, Kunming has a high concentration of foreign retailers and is already home to four Carrefours, one B&Q, one Metro and three Wal-Marts. Kunming also boasts three Watson's outlets and a growing number of international fast food outlets such as McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut. Louis Vuitton recently opened an outlet in Kunming, one of 16 nationwide, in the luxury-focused Gingko Shopping Center in the city's center. Gingko is also home to outlets of high-end goods by Salvatore Ferragamo, Chanel, Versace, Mont Blanc and Burberry. France-based luxury brand Hermes chose Gingko in Kunming as the location for its first mainland retail outlet two years ago. Luxury automobile companies are also making their presence felt in Kunming. Big names including Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Lexus and Porsche have dealerships in Kunming.
In 2006, Hong Kong-based property developer Shui On Land signed an agreement with the Kunming government in July related to a residential, business and cultural development covering 2.5 million square meters.
The area around Lake Dianchi, which is just southwest of the city's center, is currently witnessing a boom in high-end residential projects.
From the year 2008, China's Ministry of Commerce participated in hosting the fair for the first time with the stated goal of increasing the scale and quality of the fair.
Chenggong, already a major source of fresh flowers in China has plans to emerge as the "Flower Hub of Asia". The county, 20 minutes drive from central Kunming has a flourishing flower trade: according to the Kunming Administration Public Information Service Web, Chenggong exported 812 tons of flowers to Singapore in year of 2007 with volume of trade clocking in at US$1,300,000.
Authorities in Kunming have formulated plans for the development of each district in Chenggong. While Kunming's administrative authorities have already moved to Chenggong, a number of key universities in Yunnan like Yunnan University and Yunnan Normal University are also relocating to the area. With Chenggong already home to Kunming International Airport and the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center Co., Ltd. the county has positioned itself as one of China's main flower producers.
The "Kunming International Flower Exhibition" is now held every year. It is organized by the Government of Yunnan province and sponsored by Yunnan Flower Industry Office, CCPIT Yunnan branch and Yunnan EXPO Group.
The Yunnan Telecom Corporation Kunming Branch is a multiple high tech enterprise that is the main driver of tele communications in Kunming. Kunming Branch currently operates a modern fixed telephone network and with more than 1,000,000 subscribers and has 2,000,000 internet users. The data network has 5,000 of Netphone dial ports, and the outbound bandwidth of the Chinanet has reached 1.2G within this year. It operates the CHINAPAC, DDN, ATM/CHINA FR, and the computer internet, Multiedia Communication Network, IP broad band MAN based on the ATM broadband Technology that have covered the whole city, which can provide various services such as ISDN and ADSL. All of which give a strong support to the three online roll-out projects. The Kunming Branch has built up the IP broadband communication network based on IP over DWDM mode.Wi-Fi connectivity by the end of 2009 with the "Kunming Wi-Fi Metropolitan Area Network project". It would deploy more than 3 thousand access points in Kunming to provide the convenience and reliability of NonStop Wireless networking.
The first phase will enable Wi-Fi access along Kunming's main ring roads, important scenic spots, the central business district and some residential areas. Phases two and three will extend coverage to the entire Kunming prefecture area.
Kunming East Station is at present Yunnan province's only container handling depot, with direct links to only three provinces, Guangzhou, Guizhou and Sichuan, and onto the metropolitan district of Chongqing.These lines are currently being upgraded to carry double-stacked container wagons. In addition, there is a large shortage of rail cars suited for containers, and large volumes better suited to be transported in containers are still carried on flat-beds or general open wagon cars better suited to carrying bulk commodities.
In July 2006, as part of the Kunming Development Plan, construction of a comprehensive intermodal container depot located in Jiaying, Chenggong County, about 20 km from Kunming City, one of 18 new rail container depots planned by the Railway Ministry across the country. The engineering construction program occupies an area of 16,000 ha, with a fixed investment roughly equal to RMB449.5 million (US$55.6 million). The new depot handles 63 million tons annually.
The Jiaying Depot is connected with the new system of highways built linking Yunnan to the increasingly important markets of Southeast Asia, facilitating cheap Chinese exports to the region and granting resource-poor China greater access to the region's massive raw material resources. Yunnan has thereby become a progressively important area in the Southwest's rail logistics both in terms of national and international logistics.
The strategies for economic development in Yunnan, as designed by the provincial government, can be described in short as the realization of 3 targets and the construction of 5 pillar industries. Yunnan often proudly presents itself as a "green" province with an equally "green" economy. This means importance is attached to the sustainable development of the region's bio-resources as well as the protection of its natural environment. The agricultural sector therefore gets a lot of support in the development of e.g green or organic food, but also the production of traditional Chinese medicine, cut flowers and bio-chemicals is being encouraged.
The focus of the five pillar industries are the development of the tourism, tobacco, mineral and (hydro)power industries. Furthermore, as already mentioned, there's support for the development and improvement of green food, the horticultural sector and the biochemical industry.
20 years ago Kunming started a strong partnership with its sister city Zürich, Switzerland to share experiences on sustainable urban development. Today, many sectors are concerned by this cooperation.
The technical cooperation between Kunming and Zürich started with a cooperation project in the field of drinking water supply. Later other sectors such as "old town protection", "sewage and waste water treatment", "city planning", "urban and regional transport planning" were added in the co-operation list.
Based on their experience, specialists from Zürich supported Kunming in the process of urban planning and development. Many Chinese specialists went to Zürich for technical visits or trainings, getting an insight into the management of an advanced modern European city. The dialogue between specialists has been an important experience for both partners, establishing a relationship of mutual trust over the years.
The cooperation has improved the water supply with the planning of modern drinking water treatment plants. It also led to a plan of protecting old buildings in the city. The solutions used in Kunming have, in the meantime, become a model in the People's Republic of China and are receiving attention beyond the provincial borders.
Traffic congestion has been a problem for residents in recent years in Kunming. Fifty years ago, the small city only had several hundred motor vehicles. The figure increased to almost 100,000 in the mid 1970s. Since the 1980s, the city has embarked on a fast development. Road construction has not kept up to pace with the increasing amount of traffic, though several projects at expanding and connecting roads are being implemented.
Kunming's then Vice-Mayor Li Jiang said the serious imbalance between the enormous amount of traffic and limited roads affected not only the city's economic and social development but also the residents' daily lives.
Several regulations being implemented are: 1. Rigorous driver training including retraining the driving teachers 2. Training the police to enforce new and existing driving and parking regulations 3. Train the police to drive in a completely law abiding manner. 4. Enforce traffic regulations on all vechicles, especially those with white license plates who routinely break laws. 5. Develop and enforce zoning laws that force property owners to provide adequate parking for cars, scooters, bicycles and delivery vehicles. 6. By implementing no. 5, eliminate the parking of bicycles and scooters on pedestrian sidewalks.
One major co-operation results in transportation sector was the Kunming Urban Public Transportation Master Plan. Several modern bus lanes were planned according to this plan, and the Bus Rapid Transport Systems (BRT) priority policy was put forward by Kunming Administration. The modern BRT can reach the carrying capacity and service level of rail traffic, but its construction and operation costs are much lower that of rail traffic, which makes it suitable for Kunming as a medium-sized city in China.
After establishing the BRT priority policy, Kunming built its first modern bus lane in April 1999, which marked the earliest practice of BRT in China. Today, four special bus lanes have been constructed and the basic layout of a cross-grid bus lane network is already in the place.
However, starting to promote BRT can't solve all transportation problems. Compared with world-class BRT systems, Kunming's BRT system still has a long way to go in improving carrying capacity and service level, to let the public see the expected effects of public traffic priority.
Meanwhile, the bus lane network is to be further expanded, to make the bus lanes reach the planned length of 63km. To achieve this target, more high-standard bus lanes are to be built, and to improve the city's existing bus lanes' operation and management levels as well. It has been suggested that the priorities in promoting BRT should be put into practice the new free-transfer ticket systems and optimize the bus route network.
Kunming recently has adopted prohibiting automobiles turning left policy. However, the responses to this measure are mixed. Wang Haihui, who is from the cities transportation department, said this measure alleviated road congestion situation and reduced passengers' time spent on the buses. But Yang Qing, Professor of Urban Planning at Kunming Ligong University, who drives a car everyday, complained the measure didn't have very obvious positive impact on his daily transit. How to solve the traffic jams has aroused public concerns. According to a random survey by the local television station, nearly 60 per cent Kunmingers attribute the traffic jams to a large increase in motor vehicles. He Dongquan, Director of Transportation Program of Energy Foundation, suggests that more people should take buses instead of driving cars in order to save road space.
According to Xinhua News Agency's report, a blueprint entitled Modern New Kunming is in the making. According to this plan, Kunming will be built into a city formed by four ecological areas with specific functions, favorable living environment, and convenient transportation.
The government plans to put in place policies (low-interest loans, tax exemption and other concessions or subsidies) and a fund to encourage private sector participation in the city's solar energy-based infrastructure development. The fund, which will be included in the municipal government's annual budget, will particularly finance LED for public lighting, solar photovoltaic projects, and the propagation of energy saving projects.
As of 2007, the Kunming Economic Committee listed about 130 solar energy enterprises in the city. Of these, 118 enterprises produce solar lamps and solar water heaters, with a combined total production value of about US$ 43.8 million, and 10 enterprises are engaged in solar photovoltaic cells manufacturing, with a total production value of about US$51.2 million.
Kunming is situated on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Rail and air are the main two methods to travel to or from Kunming from outside Yunnan.
Kunming is served by an international airport, located 4-5 km southeast of central Kunming that have new international and domestic terminal buildings next to each other. Kunming has air connections with several Chinese and Southeast Asian cities. CAAC shuttle buses (¥5) serve passengers between the airport (Tuodong Lu) and the city center. Transport by taxi cost around 15 yuan and it takes about 20 minutes. Three public buses run on the route including No. 52, 67 and 78.
There are flights to most of China's major cities including Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin and Shanghai. International flights are to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Vientiane, Rangoon, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Kolkata, Osaka and Seoul. The airport has a few regional (provincial) connections including Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian, Xishuangbana, Baoshan, Jinghong, Mangshi.
Flights from Kunming to: Baoshan (3 weekly; 30 min); Beijing (6 daily; 2 hr 35 min); Changsha (1 or 2 daily; 1 hr 30 min); Chengdu (6-9 daily; 1 hr 5 min); Chongqing (4-7 daily; 50 min); Dali (5 weekly; 30 min); Deqin (3 weekly; 2 hr); Guangzhou (5 daily; 1 hr 20 min); Guilin (1 or 2 daily; 1 hr 30 min); Guiyang (1 or 2 daily; 1 hr 10 min); Hefei (3 daily; 2 hr) Hong Kong (1 or 2 daily; 2 hr 45 min); Jinghong (3 daily; 55 min); Lijiang (4 weekly; 40 min); Mangshi (2 daily; 45 min); Nanning (2 daily; 50 min); Shanghai (2-3 daily; 2 hr 30 min); Xi'an (2-4 daily; 1 hr 40 min).
Other than China Eastern and Air China, Kunming Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Dragonair, JAL, Korean Air and Thai Airways International are the other main airlines that operate out of Kunming (see also Kunming Wujiaba International Airport).
The new airport will have a 4,000 m long and 60 m wide runway, a 4,000 m long and 45 m wide runway; a 550,000 square meter terminal building; a 2,800 square-meter tower; and other supporting facilities including air traffic management and a fuel supply system.
The airport is projected to cost US$3 billion and its terminals will be housed in a pagoda-style structure and it will be partially solar powered. It is being designed by the UK-based design engineering consultancy Arup.
Several road and rail routes link Kunming to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, which provide Yunnan province access to seaports of Southeast Asia. The provincial rail network is limited - one down through the southeast to the Vietnamese border (via Hekou), and a line to Xiaguan, near Dali - though Kunming is well linked to the rest of the country via Sichuan and Guizhou.
Kunming has two railway stations:
Trains from Kunming to: Beijing (daily; 48 hr); Chengdu (3 daily; 18-21 hr); Chongqing (2 daily; 23 hr); Guangzhou (2 daily; 45 hr); Guilin (2 daily; 30 hr); Guiyang (5 daily; 12 hr); Hanoi (daily; 28 hr); Hekou (1 daily; 16 hr); Kaiyuan (2 daily; 8 hr); Nanning (daily; 20 hr); Panzhihua (3 daily; 6 hr); Shanghai (2 daily; 60 hr); Xiaguan (daily; 8 hr); Xichang (3 daily; 12 hr).
Pending governmental approval, phase one of the project will begin before the end of 2008. The first phase of the network, Line 1, will connect downtown Kunming with the university campuses in the south of Chenggong, a county that is in the northeast of Kunming Prefecture.
Shortly after approval is obtained and construction begins on Line 1, work is expected to begin on Line 2, which will connect Kunming's northern suburbs with the northern shore of Dianchi Lake in the south. The two areas boast some of the city's highest concentrations of wealth with the north shore of Dianchi to become more economically dynamic through developer Shui On Land's Caohai Urban North Shore project, which is expected to cover 87 hectares and feature commercial and residential space as well as museums, theaters, an amphitheater and an "artist's community".
Other proposed lines include:
Construction of Line 1 is expected to cost as much as 32 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion), with each kilometer of above-ground light rail costing around 250 million yuan and each kilometer of underground subway expected to cost between 400 million and 800 million yuan. All rail lines within Erhuan Lu – Kunming's second ring road – will be underground.
Yunnan has built a comprehensive highway system with roads reaching almost all the major cities or towns in the region. Bus travel across the region is extensive. Buses head from Kunming to destinations such as Dali and Lijiang several times a day.
There are four major long-distance bus stations in Kunming with the South Bus Station and Railway Square Bus Station being the most primary.
Buses from Kunming to: Anshun (24 hr); Baoshan (18 hr); Chengdu (36 hr); Chuxiong (6 hr); Dali (12 hr); Gejiu (5 hr); Guiyang (72 hr); Hekou (16 hr); Jianshui (5 hr); Jinghong (11 hr); Kaiyuan (5 hr); Lijiang (11 hr); Mangshi (22 hr); Nanning (72 hr); Panxian (12 hr); Ruili (24 hr); Shilin (3 hr); Tonghai (2 hr); Wanding (25 hr); Xiaguan (10 hr); Xichang (24 hr); Xingyi (13 hr).
The Kunming-Bangkok Expressway is the first expressway from China to Bangkok via Laos. The 1,800 km long Kunming-Bangkok Exxpressway begins at Kunming going down to Ban Houayxay in Laos; it then crosses the Mekong River to Chiangkhong in Thailand and eventually reaches Bangkok.
At the 14th Greater Mekong Subregion Ministerial Conference in July 2007, China, Laos and Thailand signed an agreement on the construction of a new bridge over the Mekong River to connect Chiangkhong in Thailand and Ban Houayxay in Laos, to the Kunming-Bangkok Highway. The completion of the new bridge over the Mekong River will help connect China's southeast provinces with Bangkok. With capital investments from both China and Thailand, the bridge is expected to be completed in 2011 and will be the last link in the highway system that winds through the Mekong River region.
Nearly two hundred public bus lines crisscross the city center, covering the whole prefecture. Prices are usually 1 yuan for a no air-conditioned and 2 yuan for air-conditioned.
Taxis are plenty with the starting price at ¥8 for the first three kilometer and ¥1.6 added for per extra km. After 10pm price rises to ¥9.6 for the first 3 km and ¥2.7 added to per extra km.
Cycling is common, and many hotels around the Kunming Railway Station provide bicycle rental services usually priced 2 yuan/hour and 10 yuan/day.
Conscious of its growing traffic issues, the city is currently renovating a pedestrian-friendly city centre.
The city has more than 300 scientific research institutions employing 450,000 scientists and technicians. Included were 68,500 people with middle-level and senior professional titles. In 1995, the city achieved 60 research findings, of which one reached the "advanced international standard", 17 "advanced domestic standard" and 21 "advanced provincial standard".
As a working department of CAS, Kunming Branch now administrates five research institutes: Kunming Institute of Botany, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Xishuanbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, Yunnan Observatory and Institute of Geochemistry in Guiyang. At present, it has a total staff of 1,160, of which 808 are professional researchers, 7 academicians, 343 senior researchers. There are also 447 Ph.D. degree students and 530 master degree students. The retired staff is 1,090. The Branch has set up 3 national key open labs, 2 CAS key open labs, 5 key labs set up by CAS and local province, 3 engineering centers, 5 doctoral sites, 5 post doctoral stations and national famous plant herbariums and halls of wildlife specimen and had a series of updated research instruments and apparatus, computer networks and biodiversity information systems. The Branch has become an advanced comprehensive science research base in astronomy, geology and biology.
The administrative organ of Kunming Branch is organized by three functional departments (General Office, Office of Personnel and Office of Sci-tech Cooperation) and a supporting department (Network Center). The major tasks are: to construct the leadership of the five institutes and cadres reserve; to organize and facilitate the cooperation between CAS and Yunnan Province and Guizhou Province; to coordinate projects and poverty alleviation; to undertake the coordination and administration of the knowledge creation base of "Conservation and Research Development of Southwest China Biological Resources and Biodiversity". Kunming Branch has established international exchange platforms with south-east Asia countries. In 2005, a delegation from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology was invited to visit Kunming Branch and reached a cooperation intention with Kunming Branch in staff exchange, co-educate graduate students, research program cooperation, scientific data exchange and set up labs jointly. Kunming Branch has organized the affiliated institutes to apply for the foreign aid training program from the state.
At present, Kunming Branch is preparing the establishment of the "Biodiversity National Lab" with Yunnan Province.
Yunnan, with a population of more than 45 million, leads China in HIV/AIDS infections - primarily spread through intravenous drug use and unsafe sex, often involving the sex industry. According to official statistics, by the end of last year Yunnan was home to more than 48,000 HIV-infected patients, 3,900 patients with AIDS and a death toll of 1,768.
Further reading: "Modeling the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Injecting Drug Users and Sex Workers in Kunming, China", Bulletin of Mathematical Biology Volume 68, Number 3 / April, 2006; Nicolas Bacaër, Xamxinur Abdurahman and Jianli Ye
Kunming has a pivotal role as a major conduit point in international drug trafficking as it is the closest major Chinese city situated near the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. The Kunming Municipal Public Security Bureau Narcotics Squad is the specialist counter-narcotics police service.
Police confiscated at least three tons of drugs in Yunnan in 2005. Yunnan province seized 10 tons of illegal drugs in 2006, accounting for 80 percent of the total drugs confiscated nationwide during the period, according to Sun Dahong, then deputy director of Yunnan's provincial Public Security Bureau. The total is more than double the amount seized in the province in 2005.
Heroin and methamphetamine seem to be the main targets of the 30,000+ strong anti-drug police in Yunnan. The majority of heroin coming into China from the Golden Triangle passes through Dali, where it is then distributed to the rest of China and internationally via China's coastal cities.
Kunming Municipal Compulsory Rehabilitation Center in Kunming is the main rehabilitation center for drug addicts, mostly recovering from heroin addiction. International drug rings have used Yunnan and Kunming to channel new synthetic drugs (like methamphetamine) as well as traditional drugs like heroin.
Opium was until recently in widespread medicinal use by many of the minority peoples of the province, however after the Opium War the Chinese government has made growing the poppy illegal, and all but stamped out its production within the borders of Yunnan.
National Southwestern Associated University: