Hangzhou City Profile

By Constance Lam

Background and Overview

Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, has an extensive history that dates back to the Qin Dynasty, during which it was founded as "Qiantang County". This is due to Hangzhou's proximity to the Qiantang river. In AD 589, it was renamed as Hangzhou, which means "River-ferrying Prefecture.". Geographically, it is located on the southern wing of the Yangtze river and the Northwestern part of Zhejiang province.

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, Hangzhou was the capital of the Wuyue Kingdom from 907 to 978 . Hangzhou was also chosen the new capital of the Southern Song Dynasty after their defeat by the Jins in 1123. It remained the capital from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276, and was known as Lin'an.

Hangzhou was one of the three great centers of culture in southern China during the tenth century, along with Nanjing and Chengdu. It has been revered by people of eminent fields, such as philosophy, politics and literature. Some of the most renowned poets in Chinese history, such as Su Shi and Lu You, wrote fondly about Hangzhou.

In 1848 during the Qing dynasty, Hangzhou was described as the "stronghold" of Islam in China. There are several Islamic mosques - this may be due to the fact that Arab traders began taking up residence in Hangzhou since the Song dynasty.

However, the years after were not pleasant ones. In 1856 and 1860, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom occupied Hangzhou and caused heavy damage to the city.

Hangzhou was ruled by Republic of China government under the Kuomintang from 1928 to 1949. On May 3, 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Hangzhou and the city came under Communist control. After Deng Xiaoping's reformist policies began in 1978, Hangzhou took advantage of being situated in the Yangtze River Delta to bolster its development. It is now one of China's most prosperous major cities

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