City (pop., 2003 est.: 1,387,266), capital of Fujian province, China. Located on the bank of the Min River, it was the capital of the kingdom of Yue in the 2nd century BC. Fuzhou, important militarily in the 1st century AD, came later under the Tang dynasty. During the Song dynasty (960–1279), it was a centre for overseas trade and also an important cultural centre. It reached its height of prosperity when it was opened as a treaty port after the first Opium War (1839–42). It is now a centre for industrial chemicals. In the city and nearby hills are notable examples of traditional Chinese architecture, including pagodas and temples.
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It is the capital of the province, and is situated on the north bank of the estuary of Fujian's largest river, the Min River, which gives access to the interior and to the neighboring provinces of Jiangxi and Zhejiang.
The first city wall of Fuzhou was built in 202 BC when Liu Bang, the founding emperor of the Han Dynasty, gave permission to Wuzhu (无诸), the king of Minyue, to set up his capital in Fuzhou. The city was named Ye (冶), meaning "The Beautiful". The name has changed many times, but the city has been continuously occupied since 202 BC and has never suffered major destruction by wars or natural disasters.
The Minyue was annexed by Han in 110 BC and became a part of China, and Fuzhou became Ye County. During the Jin Dynasty, West Lake, East Lake (now silted up) and numerous canals in the city were constructed (282 AD).
When the Jin Dynasty collapsed, the first wave of immigrants of the gentile class arrived in Fujian (308 AD). During the Tang Dynasty (725 AD), it started to be called Fuzhou.
More immigrants arrived from the north starting from 892 as the Tang Dynasty was collapsing. After the Tang Dynasty fell in 907, the Wang family managed to establish a kingdom called Min (909 – 945) with its capital in Fuzhou, then known as Changle. Min is still used as another name for the province of Fujian, in names of region such as minnan, and the river that runs through Fuzhou is called Min Jiang.
New city walls were built in 282 AD, 901 AD, 905 AD, and 974 AD, so the city had many layers of walls — more than the Chinese capital.
During the Southern Song Dynasty, Fuzhou became more prosperous; many scholars came here to live and work. Among them were Zhu Xi (朱熹), the most celebrated Chinese philosopher after Confucius, and Xin Qiji (辛弃疾), the greatest composer of ci (a specialized form of poem). After them came Marco Polo, who transcribed the placename in Italian as Fugiu according to Mandarin Chinese.
Hualin Temple in the original Ye city, which has been declared a national heritage site, was built in 964 AD according to documentation, but was carbon-dated to the 4th or 5th century AD. It is probably the oldest existing wooden structure in China.
Between 1405 and 1433 AD, the Chinese (Ming) navy fleet, led by Zheng He, sailed from Fuzhou to the Indian Ocean seven times; on three occasions the fleet landed on the east coast of Africa. Before the last sailing, Zheng erected a stele dedicated to the goddess Tian-Fei (Matsu) near the seaport.
In the 19th century, Lin Zexu, a native of Fuzhou, led an unsuccessful attempt to resist the British fleet at Canton Bay, and Lin was exiled to the Russian border. At the end of the First Opium War, Fuzhou became one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanjing (signed in 1842). Lin Zexu died on November 22, 1850 at age of 66.
On November 8, 1911, revolutionaries staged an uprising in Fuzhou. After an overnight street battle, the Qing (Manchu) army surrendered. On November 22, 1933, the leaders of the 19th Army set up a short-lived Republic of China (中華共和國) in Fuzhou (compare the name to Chiang’s “Republic of China” (中華民國), which literally means “People’s State of China”); it collapsed in two months.
Around 1940, the Japanese army decided to invade Fuzhou. Surrounded by hills on 3 sides, the Japanese army quickly bombed and invaded the city. Japanese planes quickly bombed the only escape route for Chinese civilians- the bridges across the neighbouring river, leaving many civilians dangerously crossing the river on foot. The Japanese soon took the city and held it until Japan's surrender in 1945.
See also: Battle of Foochow
On December 13, 1993, a raging fire swept through a textile factory in Fuzhou and claimed the lives of 60 workers.
Main airport: Fuzhou Changle International Airport
In 1867 the port was the site of one of China's first major experiments with Western technology, when the Fuzhou Navy Yard was established; a shipyard and an arsenal were built under French guidance, and a naval school was opened. A naval academy was also established at the shipyard, and it became a center for the study of European languages and technical sciences. The academy, which offered courses in English, French, engineering, and navigation, produced a generation of Western-trained officers, including the famous scholar-reformer Yan Fu (1854–1921).
The yard was established as part of a program to strengthen China in the wake of the country's disastrous defeat in the trading conflict known as the second Opium War (1856–60). But most talented students continued to pursue a traditional Confucian education, and by the mid-1870s the government began to lose interest in the shipyard; it had trouble securing funds and declined in importance. Fuzhou remained essentially a commercial center and a port until World War II; it had relatively little industry. The port was occupied by the Japanese during 1940–45.
Since 1949, Fuzhou has grown considerably; its communications have been improved by the clearing of the Min River for navigation by medium-sized craft upstream to Nanping. In 1956 the railway linking Fuzhou with the interior of the province and with the main Chinese railway system was opened. The port, too, has been improved; Fuzhou itself is no longer accessible to seagoing ships, but Luoxingta anchorage and another outer harbor at Guantou on the coast of the East China Sea have been modernized and improved. The chief exports are timber, fruits, paper, and foodstuffs.
Industry is supplied with power by a grid running from the Gutian hydroelectric scheme in the mountains to the northwest. The city is a center for industrial chemicals and has food-processing, timber-working, engineering, papermaking, printing, and textile industries. A small iron and steel plant was built in 1958. In 1984 Fuzhou was designated one of China's "open" cities in the new open-door policy inviting foreign investments. Handicrafts remain important in the rural areas, and the city is famous for its lacquer and wood products.
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