Dazhou

Dazhou

Dazhou is a prefecture-level city in north-eastern Sichuan province.

Geography

Dazhou borders Shaanxi in the north and Chongqing in the south. It is centrally located between the four major cities of Western China, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an and Wuhan. The area is 16,600 km².

History

Dazhou's history goes back to the Eastern Han Dynasty when in 90 AD it was made a county by the name of Liweizhou (历为州). Then until the Liao Dynasty its name was Zaidi (在地). During the Liao and Tang dynasties its name was again changed, this time to Tongzhou (通州). Finally in the Song Dynasty it was given its present name of Dazhou.

Notable people from from Dazhou include the Three Kingdoms writer Chen Shou, Song Dynasty astronomer Zhang Sixun (张思训), and Ming and Qing Dynasty philosopher and educator Tang Zhen (唐甄). Dazhou also made notable contributions to the Communist Revolution. Red army heroes such as Xu Xiangqian (徐向前), Li Xiannian (李先念), Xu Shiyou (许世友), Wang Weizhou (王维舟), and Zhang Aiping (张爱萍) were all from or lived in Dazhou.

Administration

It is one of Sichuan's most populous cities with 6,380,000 residents.

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Economy

Dazhou is an important river and land transportation hub for the region. Numerous national highways, expressways, and rail lines pass through Dazhou connecting it directly with major cities in China such as Chengdu, Xi'an, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, etc., making it one of Sichuan's important trade centers.

Dazhou has numerous natural resources including large natural gas fields and an abundance of mineral resources such as salt, coal, manganese, lithium, and limestone. Major agricultural products include pork, beef, and tea. Other industries are chemical production, coal power, metallurgy, textiles, building materials, and processed food.

Tourism

Dazhou is blessed with both cultural and natural attractions. There are several national and provincial cultural sites and many national and provincial protected forests and nature reserves. Xuanhan's Baili Gorges have scenery and rapids, leading to the nickname "Little Three Gorges". Mountains are this area's greatest attraction.

Protest of January 2007

Dazhou gained notoriety for the corruption of Dazhu (大竹) county that caused mass protest in January 2007. The incident involved a 16-year old waitress at the KTV rooms of Laishide (莱仕德) Hotel.

Laishide (莱仕德) Hotel was a four-star hotel built with investment from local officials and local police, and the sentiment against the hotel among the local populace existed long before the mass protest in January 2007 because of illegal and corrupt activities behind the closed doors of the hotel.

Miss Yang Daili (杨代莉), a 16 years old young girl working at the hotel's karaoke rooms (KTV) was famed for her beauty and height, 1.70 metres. On December 29, 2006, three high ranking provincial officials went to the Laishide Hotel and asked Miss Yang Daili to have dinner with them, and took her out at the same night. The next morning, Miss Yang Daili was found dead in a suite at the hotel. According to the police report, Miss Yang was drugged and raped, and she suffered brutal torture, including her tongue being cut, teeth broken due to beating, nipples cut off, and privates mutilated.

Miss Yang Daili's family started a protest outside the hotel on January 12, 2007. After they received no explanation from the hotel despite repeated requests, sympathizers and those who resented corruption gathered around the family to show their support. Their number first increased by dozens daily, then by hundreds, and eventually by thousands. The attempt of Laishide Hotel to settle before catching the real killer only increased public outrage even further, because previously, two waitresses and a security guard working at the hotel had been killed and no suspects had been found. The official local governmental news website, however, failed to mention anything on these three previous murders and it once again attempted do the same for the most recent murder.

By the afternoon of January 17, 2007, more than ten thousand protesters had gathered outside the hotel, and as the news of Laishide Hotel offering Miss Yang Daili's family half a million Renminbi to settle before the killers were found, and rejection of the offer by family members reached the crowd, the people finally had had enough. Angry protesters rushed into the hotel, damaged everything inside, and eventually set fire to the hotel. The fire was not put out until five hours later.

As the number of protesters and public outrage increased, the official local government could no longer keep the murder as a secret and was forced to release the police findings on January 18, 2007. However, the official local governmental news release only publicized the police report of the crime scene, and attempted to blame the crime on a male hotel employee named Liu (劉). This action is unanimously viewed by the local populace as an attempt to cover up the involvement of three high ranking governmental officials of provincial level. Government officials were involved in all of the previous three murders that had been kept secret by the local government but were forced into the open due this event. The enraged protesters continued to gather after the fire was put out and clashed with riot police who were sent in.

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