Wuhan History

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Wuhan is a famous historical and cultural city in China with a history of 3500 years. Its three towns take advantage of the intersection of the Yangtze River and Hanshui River, and Hankou has been growing up swiftly. In 1861, Hankou was opened to trade with foreign powers. In 1927, National Government announced that Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang were integrated to Jingzhao Region and named Wuhan, whose administrative system was first unified. Wuhan was liberated on May 16, 1949, and was the city directly governed by the Central Government by June 1954, afterwards, governed by Hubei Provincial Government. In Dec. 1986, the State Council promulgated that Wuhan was a famous historical and cultural city in China. In 1992, Wuhan was approved to be city open to the outside world.

A Brief History of Wuhan

Historical Evolution

According to recent archaeological findings, Wuhan was inhabited as early as ten thousand years ago. The relics of Ancient Panlong Town located in the suburban Huangpi County, is studied and verified as the palace of Fang Kingdom in Shang Dynasty about 3,500 years ago, the first ancient town in Shang Dynasty so far discovered in the Yangtze River basin. Wuhan belonged to Jingzhou in Xia Dynasty, to Nan Kingdom in late Yin Dynasty, to Southern Zhou in Zhou Dynasty, to Southern Prefecture in Qin Dynasty and to Jiangxia Prefecture in Han Dynasty. After Eastern Han Period, Zhuanyang County (25 AD), Shiyang County (in Three Kingdoms Period), Quyang County (280 AD), Quling County (305 AD), Jiangxia County (597 AD) and Hanyang County (606 AD) were established successively in the north of the Yangtze River; while in the south of the Yangtze River, Shaxian County (25 AD), Runan County (378 AD) and Jiangxia County (589 AD) also appeared. During Chenghua Period of Ming Dynasty, the tributary of Han River on the north of Tortoise Hill gradually became the mainstream reaching the Yangtze River and the tripartite layout of three towns, namely Wuchang, Hanyang and Hankou, was formed. The name Wuchang dates back to the time when Sun Quan, who decided on E』cheng as the capital, meant 「prosperity (chang) comes out of force (wu)」, and this town, together with Hanyang in the north of the Yangtze River, was called 「twin towns」. After Ming Dynasty, Xiakou Town, where then Hanyang belonged to, was quite prosperous in business, and Hanyang was approved as the leading town among the four national well-known towns. The joint name Wuhan of the three towns Wuchang, Hanyang and Xiakou came into use. In December 1926, the temporary joint meeting of executive committee of Kuomintang and the committee of National Government decided to incorporate Wuchang, Hanyang and Hankou into capital district and named it Wuhan. On April 16, 1927, Wuhan City Council was established, marking the beginning of the founding of Wuhan. After a troubling period, in May 24, 1949, Wuhan People’s Government was formally established and the name Wuhan was kept in use up to the present. In December 1986, the State Council declared Wuhan as National Historic City.

Significant Historical Events in Wuhan History

Wu Ding’s Expedition to the South

During the period of Shang Dynasty’s transiting to Yin Dynasty, the national power had declined and many tribes in Jingchu area in the south tended to break away from the court. During Wu Ding’s reign (Emperor Gao of Yin), the country revived. Therefore, in late 13th century BC, he waged a war to the south, including areas along Han River, Yuan River and She River as well as some counties in prefectures now in the north of the Yangtze River such as Huangpi and Xinzhou. This campaign successfully subjected the tribes in Jingchu area to Yin’s control.

Emperor Chuling Occupied Xia ?

In 540 BC, Emperor Chuling, allied with twelve leuds, waged a war between Wu Kingdom and Chu Kingdom. In order to facilitate the command of troops, Emperor Chuling moved its capital from Yingdu to Xia?. Xia ? was the mouth of the Han River flowing into the Yangtze River, also called Xiakou later. In 537 BC, ?she led Fanyang troops to join Emperor Chuling in Xia ? and defeated the troops of Wu at Que Bank in Anhui province, thus putting an end to the three-year-long war.

The Triumph of Wu Troops in Youyue Town

In late Eastern Han Period, Wuhan became a strategically important place contested by Sun Quan and Liu Biao. In order to prevent the invasion of Wu troops into Jingzhou, Liu Biao instructed Huang Zu, the viceroy of Jiangxia, to move his administrative center to Shiyang (now in the north of Hankou) and assigned a large number of forces to garrison Youyue Town in the north of Tortoise Hill and guard the water-routes on the Yangtze River. In the spring of 13th year of Jian』an Period in Han Dynasty (208AD), Zhou Yu, the governor-general of the front force of Wu troops, defeated Huang Zu by sea forces and leveled Youyue Town. Inspired by this victory, he waged further attacks, killing Huang Zu and taking captive of more than ten thousands of enemies.

The War at Chibi

In late Eastern Han Dynasty, Cao Cao unified the north China. In the late autumn of the 13th year of Jian』an Period (208), he led a troop of 200,000 (but proclaimed as 800,000) and went to the south. Under his attack, Liu Bei was compelled to flee from Fan Town to Xiakou (the mouth of Han River flowing into the Yangtze River), then crossed the Yangtze River to the northeast area of Shaxian County (namely Jinkou and now Qingshan District) and appointed Zhu Geliang to persuade Sun Quan to dispatch troops. Liu and Sun formed an ally of 50,000 forces to make counterpunch with Cao troops. While Cao troops, after sailing downward along Han River and crossing the Yangtze River to Chibi (now the Chiji Hill in Jiangxia District of Wuhan, or the Chibi Hill in the northwest of Puqi County according to some other saying), many officers and soldiers felt not acclimatized to the climate and epidemic spread among them. Because of the reasons above and their inability to fighting in water, Cao troops were defeated in the first round. Fire spread to the tents and caused great chaos among Cao troops. Taking advantage of this situation, the allied forces defeated utterly Cao troops. After the war, Sun Quan occupied most domain of Jinzhou area, while Liu Bei took possession of four counties such as Wuling and Changsha, and later Yizhou, thus forming the tripartite layout of three kingdoms: Wei, Shu and Wu.

Sun Quan Built Xiakou Town

After the War at Chibi, Sun Quan moved his dominant prefecture from Jianye (now Nanjing) to E (now E』zhou), re-named E County Wuchang and established Wuchang Prefecture. Jiangxia Hill (also named Huanghu Hill, now the Snake Hill), located in Shaxian County (Yejinkou), was a strategically important place to surround and protect the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Therefore, in the 2nd year of Huangwu Period (223), Sun Quan gave orders to construct a town on the hill in vicinity of the Yangtze River. The town was two to three miles away from the Yangtze River and faced with the mouth of Xia River (Han River) flowing into the Yangtze River, thus was called Xiakou Town. Xiakou Town, built near the hill and occupying a commanding position, was guarded by troops of imperial clans of Sun Quan for its strategically important position. This town was the first ancient town in Wuhan with exact chronic records.

Zhang Chang Uprising

During Emperor Hui’s Reign in Western Jin Dynasty, people were heavily taxed and had no means to live. Refugees could be seen everywhere. In the 2nd year of Tai』an Period (303), Zhang Chang, a Yiyang man, launched an uprising among refugees in Jiangxia, set title 「Han」 and established Yuan Dynasty. Many people in Jianghan area followed in response. In less than a month, risers grew to 30,000. They occupied many cantons and prefectures with irresistible forces. Jiangxia, Wuling, Lingling, Yuzhang, Wuchang and Changsha were leveled successively. Pingnan General, Zhennan General of Jin Dynasty and viceroys of five prefectures such as Nanyang and Wuchang were beheaded. Most areas of Jing, Jiang, Yang, Xu and Yu were occupied. In the autumn of the same year, risers failed in the battle with Tao Kan, a Jin general, thus putting an end to this uprising.

Niu Sengru Administered E』zhou Well

In the middle period of Tang Dynasty, E』zhou (with administrative centre in Jiangxia County, now in Wuchang District of Wuhan) became the transfer center of tributes from the east and the south and its status was growing more and more important. In the first year of Baoli Period (825), Emperor Jing of Tang Dynasty appointed prime minister Niu Sengru to take up the post of E』zhou provincial governor (a kind of feudal provincial or prefectural governor) and Wuchang governor (governor of one or more provinces in charge of both civil and military affairs during Tang Dynasty), leading six provinces: E, Yue, Qi, An, Shen and Guang. During the six years of office in E, he established a good fame by dissolving supers, adjusting administration and reducing taxation. Meanwhile, he presented a memorial to cancel Mian province and to merge Hanyang and Hanchuan into E』zhou, thus incorporating Hanyang and Jiangxia into the same administrative region. Jiangxia County, which used to be an adobe town, was also rebuilt by stages into a magnificent brick town facing Sha Lake in the north and Ziyang Lake in the south, laying a good foundation for business prosperity and culture development of E』zhou in the dynasties of Tang and Song.

Yue Fei Fought against Jin Invaders in E』zhou

After reoccupying the lost territory of Xiang and Deng in the 3rd year of Shaoxing Period of Song Dynasty (1133), Emperor Gao conferred to Yue Fei the titles of governor of Qingyuan troop, governor of Lu, Jing, Xiang and Tanzhou in Hubei Province and the founding marquis of Wuchang, and ordered him to station troops in E』zhou (with administrative center in Jiangxia county, now in Wuchang District of Wuhan). In 10th year of Shaoxing Period (1140), Jin invaders launched a large-scale offensive to the south. In answer to it, Yue Fei led the main force of Song troops from E』zhou to the north to meet them, defeating them in Luoyang and Zhengzhou and pressing on towards Kaifeng. However, Emperor Gao and Qin Gui were so desperate to sue for peace that they sent twelve golden tokens in one day to compel Yue Fei to retreat. Without any choice, Yue Fei went back but was killed in the next year from injustice. During the stay in E』zhou, he wrote a famous poem named Man Jiang Hong, which expressed his determination to struggling against Jin invaders and regaining the lost territory. Now on the Snake Hill of Wuchang district there is a Yue Fei Gloriette in memory of him.

Xu Shouhui Founded the Capital in Hanyang

After leading an uprising in Qishui (now Xishui County), Xu Shouhui was crowned emperor and established his title Tian Wan. In the first month of the next lunar year, his army captured Hanyang and Jiangxia (now Wuchang).In the first month of the 16th lunar year of Zhizheng Period, uprising general Ni Wenjun met Xu Shouhui in Hanyang, where they built a palace at the foot of the Phoenix Hill and decided it as the capital of Tian Wan Kingdom. In this place, they commanded the Red Headband Troops a five-year-long fight against Yuan troops. In the 19th year of Zhizheng Period (1359), Xu Shouhui was welcomed by Chen Youliang in Jiangzhou (now Jiujiang) and was killed by him in the next year. Tian Wan Kingdom was thus replaced by Great Han Kingdom.

Han River Changed Its Routes into the Yangtze River

Han River was originally named Xia River or Mian River in ancient times. Since the watercourse of its lower reaches often changed and the lower end was connected with many lakes and marshes, there was often more than one estuary for the Han River, which was even more when flood occurred. Before Qin Dynasty, its lower reaches were connected with Yuan River and Cu River and the main watercourse was from Xia ? into the Yangtze River, which is now located between Chenjiaji and Shakou in the north suburb of Hankou District. Later the watercourse changed to the south, followed by which the estuary also changed to the south of Dabie Mountain (also named Yiji Hill or Lu Hill, now the Tortoise Hill). That’s how Lushan Town was called Hanyang later (the Chinese character yang means 「in the south」). In the middle period of Ming Dynasty, the Yangtze River came into a high water period and the Han River had a great increase of incoming flow. In the 1st year of Chenghua Period, floods devastated in the lower reaches of Han River every year that finally burst in the place now located between Paishakou and Dunshikou in the west of Hanyang district and formed a new watercourse towards the east. As a result, the mainstream changed to enter the Yangtze River in the north of Dabie Mountain. Later in the place between Han River, the Yangtze River and lakes and marshes connected with Han River, a new town called Hankou was established, forming the tripartite layout of three towns.

The First Supervisory Bureau Established in Hankou

After Han River changed to flow into the Yangtze River in the north of Tortoise Hill, Hankou became the place where Yangtze River sea-route and Han River sea-route met together. So the north riverbank turned out to be a good haven and soon developed into a prosperous port. Warehouses and stores increased day by day, gradually pushing Hankou into a town with numerous merchants. In the first year of Zhengde Period (1506), Ming Dynasty declared Hankou an exchanging port for grains, promoting its business and making it more densely inhabited. Up to the 24th year of Jiaqing Period (1545), Hankou had a population of 1,400 and business taxes became a major source of revenue of Hanyang Government. Therefore, Hanyang County established a supervisory bureau here to handle affairs about population and taxation. Hankou began to have its own administrative organization and became a special administrative region independent from agriculture. It was one of the birthplaces of capitalist rudiments of China.

Zhang Xianzhong Burned Down the Residence of Prince Chu

In the 3rd year of Hongwu Period of Ming Dynasty (1370), Zhu Yuanzhang conferred the title of Prince Chu to Zhu Zhen, his sixth son, and began to build a residence for Zhu Zhen in the south of Gaoguan Hill of Jiangxia (now the Snake Hill) in the next year. During the nine-year-long building, workers built successively over 800 palaces and pavilions. The wall of its residence was nearly 10 meters high, as magnificent as the imperial city. In the spring of the 16th year of Chongzhen Period (1643), Zhang Xianzhong led a peasant uprising army and captured Jiangxia Town. They took captive and drowned Prince Chu, and burned down his residence. After that, Zhang Xianzhong changed Jiangxia into Tian Shou Palace, established the power of Da Xi, and named himself Emperor Da Xi.

Lin Zexu Prohibited Opium Trafficking in Wuhan

In April of the 17th year of Daoguang Period in Qing Dynasty (1837), Lin Zexu was appointed Governor-general of Huguang (namely Hunan and Hubei) and took the post in Wuchang. At that time, opium trade and smoking was prevailing across the country. Shocked by the harmful influence of opium smoking, he decided to try out opium prohibition. After a year of survey and planning, he stipulated six steps such as taking over smoking apparatus, persuading for self-reform, forbidding opium business, establishing no-smoking public, etc, and took the lead in smoking prohibition activity in Wuhan, Hunan, Hubei and some other places. He captured about 15,000 liang (a kind of weight unit in China) of crude opium in Wuhan, 40,000 liang of crude opium and opium paste in Hunan and Hubei, and in addition, more than tens of thousands of opium pipes. Personally he commanded all his subordinates twice to check the captured crude opium and opium apparatus, to burn them down and finally to pour the ash into the Yangtze River to show his determination of opium smoking prohibition. Attributed to his great achievements in smoking prohibition activities in Hunan and Hubei, Lin Zexu was called in for eight times by Emperor Dao Guang in succession, which settled a good foundation for his smoking prohibition activities in Guangzhou afterwards and was a harbinger of Guangzhou smoking prohibition.

Taiping Army Captured Wuhan

In December of the 2nd year of Xianfeng Period of Qing Dynasty (1852), Taiping Army advanced by both land and water, and on 22 and 29 occupied Hanyang and Hankou successively. Yang Xiuqing established in Hankou a residence of prince East at Jiangxi assembly hall to command the army to besiege Wuchang. They built two floating bridges between Wuchang and Hanyang and launched attacks on the river. Cooperating with the land army, they captured Wuchang on January 12 in the next year. This was the first provincial capital seized by Taiping Army. During their occupation of Wuchang, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom built a watchtower on the Snake Hill and created a new city defense strategy of 「guarding strategic place instead of rampart」. They improved the managing system of male and female barracks and treasury, accumulating rich experience in running a big city. In addition, they expanded the army on a large scale, enabling the population in Taiping Heavenly Kingdom to increase to more than 500,000.

Opening Hankou as a Trading Port

During the Second Opium War (known in the West as the Arrow War, 1856-1860), the Government of Qing Dynasty was compelled to sign Treaties of Tianjin and Convention of Peking, which stipulated eleven cities or regions including Hankou as trading ports. In December 1858, James Bruce (the 8th Earl of Elgin), the head of the British aggressor troops, lead on four warships to intrude upon the Yangtze River in Wuhan to collect the information needed for opening the trading port by superior force in Wuhan. And in the spring of 1861, Counselor Harry Parkes and Admiral Herbert were sent to Wuhan for opening trading port here. On the basis of Convention of Peking, Harry Parkes concluded the Hankou Lend-Lease Treaty with Guan Wen, the governor-general of Hunan and Hubei, which brought the areas of 30.53 square kilometers along the Yangtze River (from Jianghan Road to Hezuo Road today) to become British Concession and permitted Britain to set up their consulate in the British Concession immediately. Thus, Hankou became an open trading port finally.

Hubei under Supervision of Zhang Zhidong

In the fifteenth year of Guangxu Period (1889) of the Qing Dynasty, Zhang Zhidong transferred from Guangdong to be the governor-general of Hunan and Hubei, and by 1906, he had supervised Hubei for 17 years. During this period, he elucidated the theory of 「Chinese learning as the base, Western learning for application」 in great detail. He went in for foreign-oriented industry in a big way, founded Hanyang Ironworks, Daye Iron Mine, Pingxiang Coal Mine and Hubei Arsenal as well as set up spinning office, weaving office, hemp office and filature office, which strongly boosted the flourishing of modern industry in Wuhan. Meanwhile, he initiated educational reform, opened dozens of modern educational organizations successively, such as Lianghu (Hunan and Hubei) Academy of Classical Learning, Civil General Institute, Military General Institute, Foreign Languages Institute and Lianghu (Hunan and Hubei) General Normal School, and selected a great many students for overseas studying, which well promoted the development of China’s modern education. Furthermore, he trained modern soldiers and organized a new-type modern army including a zhen and a xie (both zhen and xie are units of army in the Qing Dynasty) in Hubei. All of these laid a solid foundation for the modernization of Wuhan.

Independent Army Uprising in the Year of Gengzi

After the failure of Movement of 1898, the reformists including Tang Caichang made a decision to carry out new political measures by force. In 1900 (26th year of Guangxu Period of the Qing Dynasty, also the year of gengzi in traditional Chinese chronology), with the call of 「Armies Coming to the Rescue of the Throne」, Tang Caichang and Lin Gui organized the Independent League in Wuhan, and then contacted and mustered secret societies and armies of the Qing Dynasty to build up the Seventh Army of Independent Army. The frontal army commanded by Qin Lishan and Wu Luzhen was stationed in Datong, Anhui, the rear army commanded by Tian Bangxuan was stationed in Anqing, Anhui, the left army commanded by Chen Youlong was stationed in Changde, Hunan, and the right army commanded by Shen Jin was stationed in Xindi (the urban area of Honghu today), Hubei. The Independent Army headquartered in Hankou, with the middle army commanded by Lin Gui and Fu Cixiang stationed in Wuhan. In additional, they established a safeguard army and shock squad directly commanded by Tang Caichang. The Independent Army was provided with overall military strength of 20 thousand soldiers and over 100 thousand cooperative secret societies. On August 9, 1900, Tai Lishan took the lead in rising in revolt in Datong, fought bravely for seven days but failed finally. On August 12, with the assistance of British Consulate, Zhang Zhidong demolished the Independent Army’s office in the British Concession, when Tang Caichang, Li Gui, Fu Cixiang, etc. were arrested and killed after a short time. Subsequently, the Qing Government violently raided the members of Independent Army here and there, killing more than a thousand members. Thus the uprising failed eventually.

Wuchang Uprising

On October 10th of the third year of Xuantong Period of the Qing Dynasty (1911), an armed uprising broke out in Wuchang. Before uprising, with the purpose of overthrowing the Manchu Dynasty, bourgeois revolutionaries conducted deep and wide propaganda and mobilization and founded various revolutionary organizations in Wuhan. In earlier September 1911, the Qing Government moved part of the Hubei new army to Sichuan for suppressing the people’s uprising there, which made a good chance for the uprising in Wuhan. On September 14th, Literature Society and gongjinhui, the two greatest revolutionary organizations in Hubei, jointly founded the uprising headquarters in Wuchang and decided to rise up. On the morning of October 9th, the bomb at the office of the political arrangement exploded accidentally and unfortunately, and the uprising proclamation, beadroll and official seal fell into the hands of Rui Cheng, the governor-general of Hunan and Hubei, who demolished the uprising headquarters in Wuchang the same day, and decided to raid the revolutionaries according to the beadroll. At this critical moment, the conductors from the basal backbones of revolutionary organizations contacted each other secretly and made a decision of immediate uprising. On the night of 10th, the revolutionaries fired to rise in revolt at the engineering barracks of new army, and then led on the new army of all barracks to rise up successively. Under the guidance of Wu Zhaolin, Cai Jimin, etc., the revolutionary army seized the official residence of the governor and government offices including fan, nie, etc. in Hubei. Rui Cheng fled in panic into the Chu-Yu Ship anchored by the river, and Zhang Biao, the controller of Qing army, also discarded the city and fled away. On the morning of 11th, the revolutionary army took the whole city of Wuchang. But the leaders such as Jiang Yiwu, Sun Wu disappeared then, thus the acephalous revolutionary army recommended Li Yuanhong, the assistant governor of Qing army, as the commander-in-chief, founded Hubei Military Government, proclaimed the abolishment of the Qing Dynasty’s imperialism and the founding of Republic of China, as well as published an open telegram for call to uprising of every province. As the beginning of the Revolution of 1911 (led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty), Wuchang Uprising played a most important role in raising upsurge of the democratic revolution, which also was called 「the lead in launching the Revolution of 1911」 since 1911 was the year of xinhai in traditional Chinese chronology.

Founding of Communist Group& Socialist Youth League

After May 4th Movement in 1919, Marxism began to spread in Wuhan. Thus a number of early Marxists appeared soon. In the autumn of 1920, Liu Bochui, Bao Huiseng, Dong Biwu, Chen Tanqiu, Zhang Guo』en, Zheng Kaiqing and Zhao Zijian held a meeting in Fuyuan Street (Minzhu Road today) to found the communist group of Wuhan, electing Bao Huiseng the leader, locating its office at No.5 of Duogongci, Wuchang. After a short time, Bao Huiseng, Dong Biwu, Chen Tanqiu and Li Shuqu founded Socialist Youth League, and actively recruited new members of progressive students from various schools in Wuchang. On November 7, 1920, Wuhan Middle School witnessed the first general meeting of League members, and eighteen members attended. The meeting claimed the founding of Wuchang Socialist Youth League, electing Bao Huiseng the first secretary of the League. In April 1922, Wuchang Socialist Youth League was renamed as Wuhan Socialist Youth League, which sent representatives to Guangzhou for the First National Congress of Chinese Socialist Youth League.

Great Strike of Beijing-Hankou Railway Workers

After the founding of Communist Party of China, with boom and soar of labor movements, workers from various industries established revolutionary organizations in succession. On February 1, 1923, the representatives from sixteen workers』 clubs located along the Beijing-Hankou railway held the meeting of the founding of general labor union of Beijing-Hankou railway in Zhengzhou, but met the obstruction and demolishment of Warlord Wu Peifu. In order to protest the outrageousness of the warlords, general labor union was moved to Jing』an to organize general federation for strike. Taking place on February 4, the great strike with all the 20 thousand Bijing-Hankou railway workers crippled the main artery, thus bringing huge economic losses to imperialists and northern warlords. On February 7, Cao Kun and Wu Peifu moved an array of military guards to suppress the striking workers bloodily in Hankou, Changxindian and Zhengzhou, causing 40 deaths and hundreds of the wounded only in Jiang』an, which was called February 7th Massacre in Chinese history. The strike ended on February 9th. But several relics of the great strike are preserved in Wuhan.

National Government Moved its Capital to Wuhan

In 1926, with the north extension of Northern Expedition, the center of Great Revolution shifted from the Pearl River basin to the Yangtze River basin. On November 26, the KMT Central Political Committee decided to move the capital to Wuhan. In middle December, most of the KMT central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners arrived in Wuhan, set up the temporary joint conference of central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners, performed the top functions of central party headquarters and National Government, and declared they would work in Wuhan on January 1, 1927 and decided to combined the three towns of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang into Wuhan City, called 「Capital District」. The National Government was located in the Nanyang Building in Hankou, while the central party headquarters and other organizations chose their locations in Hankou or Wuchang. In the earlier period after its move, the National Government approved and implemented a series of policies and resolutions in favor of people, and boosted the development of the national revolution, thus received warmly supports from the people.

British Concession in Hankou was Recovered

After the Northern Expedition in 1926, Wuhan was seized by the national revolutionary army, which caused strong fear and hostility of imperialists. On January 3, 1927, British marines shot down the masses celebrating the victory of Northern Expedition in the square of Jianghanguan (Wuhanguan today), Hankou, which was the January 3rd Massacre in Chinese history. On 4th, with the requirements and supports of over 200 organizations in Wuhan, the National Government required the British consulates for negotiation but was refused by them, which arouse greatest indignation of Wuhan people. Next day, Hankou witnessed the anti-Britain rally with 300 thousand participants. After the rally, the wrathful masses rushed into the British Concession and drove the policemen out. The National Government set up the temporary management committee of Hankou British Concession to take over it. On February 29, the British Government was compelled to sign the agreement with Wuhan National Government and formally acknowledge the return of Hankou British Concession to China. The recovering of the British Concession gave the imperialists a strongest shock.

Counterrevolutionary Coup D'etat on July 15

In 1927, after the Coup D'etat on April 12 launched by Chiang Kai - shek, Wuhan Government controlled by Wang Jingwei pursued right deviation gradually. However, Right opportunists in CPC never fought against it but strongly suppressed the revolutionary aspirations of the most communists and masses. They yielded to Wang Jingwei, which encouraged his barbaric plot of anti-communism. After days of conspiracy, Wang Jingwei held the meeting of 「Separation from Communists」 in public, declaring a break from the CPC. Then they closed down the revolutionary organizations such as labor union and peasants』 union, put forward the watchword of 「rather kill one thousand innocent persons than let one communist escape」 and bloodily slaughtered communists and revolutionary masses. All of this indicated a complete break of the first cooperation between KMT and the CPC and a failure of the Great Revolution.

August 7th Conference

On August 7th of 1927, the CPC held an urgent central conference secretly at No. 41 of Sanjiao Street (No. 139 of Poyang Street today), Hankou. Twenty-one delegates of the CPC and one delegate from Communist International attended the conference, they were Qu Qiubai, Li Weihan, Zhang Tailei, Deng Zhongxia, Ren Bishi, Su Zhaozheng, Gu Shunzhang, Luo Yinong, Chen Qiaonian, Cai Hesen, Li Zhenying, Lu Chen, Mao Zedong, Yang Pao』an, Wang Hebo, Li Zifen, Yang Shannan, Lu Dingyi, Peng Gongda, Zheng Chaolin, Wang Yifei and Loninadze. Deng Xiaoping, the central political secretary of that time, also participated in the conference, responsible for meeting affairs. In the conference held in the crises of revolution, they summarized a bitter lesson of failure of the revolution, corrected and ended the Right opportunism represented by Chen Duxiu, constituted the general guideline of agrarian revolution and resisting the reactionaries of KMT by armed force, which led the CPC to the way of seizing political power by armed forces. The theory of 「Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun」 deeply influenced the later revolutionary wars. In the conference, A Letter to All Communists from the Central Executive Committee of CPC, Resolution of Current Peasant Fights, Resolution of Worker Campaigns and Resolution on the Issue of Party Organizations were approved and the Temporary Political Bureau of the Central Committee was founded, which rescued the Communist Party of China from the badly difficult situations caused by the failure of the Great Revolution, and helped them shift into the new phase of agrarian revolution.

The Disastrous Flood in 1931

In summer of 1931, the torrential rain poured down in Wuhan. On July 22, the water level of Jianhanguan rose beyond the warning line of 26.3 meters. For successive dyke bursts of Fenjinlu and Dandongmen in Hankou on July 27 and August 3, the flood burst into the urban area of Hankou, where boats could be sailed and the inundation lasted for more than a month. The flood left over 20 thousand drowned, 45 thousand houses submerged and a great number of people homeless. One disaster after the other, shortly after the devastated flood, Wuhan people suffered such rampant pestilences as cholera, typhoid and dysentery and sank into ridden disaster.

National Conference for Political Affairs

At the beginning of Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945), the national government established the national conference for political affairs as the highest national consultative institution to adapt to the emergent situation of national anti-Japanese salvation movement led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The first national conference was inaugurated in Wuhan Theater (Central Plains Cinema now) on Liangyi Street, Hankou on July 6th of 1938. Over thousands of people including 162 senators and officials in national government attended the conference, which stipulated 「strive for the ultimate victory for the country to the bitter end」 as a national policy, passed the document 「Program for Supporting Anti-Japanese War and the Nation Founding」 and elected Wang Jingwei Speaker of the conference and Zhang Boling vice Speaker. The conference also stated that senators should be assigned by national government, the KMT possessed most seats in the conferences and Chinese Communist Party only had 7 senators including Mao Zedong and Dong Biwu.

The Decisive Battle in Wuhan

Immediately Japanese aggressors invaded and occupied Xuzhou, they assembled total 300,000 forces of 13 semi-main formations and other forces to give Wuhan a frontal and flanking attack along the Dabie Mountain and both sides of the Yangtze River with their strong air and sea forces. To block the further west moving of Japanese army, the KMT organized over millions of troops in the first, third, fifth and ninth war zone together with Wuhan garrison force to safeguard Wuhan (called the decisive battle in Wuhan). During June to July, the eastern important towns of Wuhan as Anqing and Jiujiang fell successively while cities near Wuhan as E city (E』zhou now), Huangang and Huangpi are all occupied by Japanese army in late October. Thanks to the dogged resistance on the battlefield, Chinese and Soviet air forces shot down dozens of hostile planes and also sank dozens of enemy warships with a force inferior in number. From 25th to 27th in October, Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang were successively occupied by Japanese army.

The Castaway Zhongshan Warship in Jinkou

In early October in 1938, Japanese aggressors moved east and north respectively upon outskirts of Wuhan. As a result, the Party and government institution, large quantities of companies and enterprises and numerous people had to withdraw from Wuhan to the west of Hubei and Sichuan. The KMT navy undertook the responsibility of defending Yangtze River on patrol and covering the withdrawal. On 24th October, when seeing over the waters of the Yangtze River near Jinkou town (Jiangxia District in Wuhan) in Wuchang, the famous navy warship of the KMT Zhongshan warship come up against 6 Japanese planes. The planes took turns to dive to strafe and bomb Zhongshan warship crazily. Though Captain Sha Shijun led the whole officers and soldiers and shot down two hostile planes, the Zhongshan warship eventually sank down due to serious ravages with 25 officers and soldiers sacrificing their valuable lives. Originally named Yongfeng warship, the Zhongshan warship, 62.1 meters long and 8.9 meters wide, was a gunboat ordered in Japanese Mitsubishi Shipyard by the Qing Government in 1910 with a tonnage of 836 tons and a speed of 13.5 sea miles/h. In 1913, Zhongshan warship with 138 seamen was incorporated in the first armada of Chinese navy, which then took part under the guidance of Cheng Biguang in the constitution defending movement launched by Sun Yat-sen in July 1917. Moreover, Sun Yat-sen stayed on Yongfeng warship for over 50 days in the command of putting down the rebellion raised by Chen Jiongming in June 1922 personally. To commemorate Sun Yat-sen, Yongfeng warship was renamed as Zhongshan warship on 13th April in 1625, which was even utilized by Jiang Jieshi to fabricate the 320 Event for excluding Communists in 1926. In view of Zhongshan warship’s significant historical values, the cultural relic department of Hubei province endeavored for years to salvage it and finally succeeded in 1996, and built a Zhongshan warship exhibition hall in Jinkou after it was repaired.

The Founding of Wuhan People’s Government

In May 1949, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s offensive maintained so powerful that the whole defense line of central China guarded by Bai Chongxi wavered and began to withdraw. On 15th, Zhang Zhen, the commander of the KMT nineteenth formation staged an uprising in Jinkou. On 16th, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army took over Wuhan. On 24th May, Wuhan People’s Government was founded and Wu Defeng was the first mayor.

Catastrophic Flood in 1954

From May to July in 1954, successive torrential rain attacked Wuhan with a rainfall of 1394.2mm, one and a half above that of the corresponding period of the previous years. On 18th July, the flood level of Wuhanguan exceeded 28.28m, the highest level in 1931, but unexpectedly it reached 29.73m the same day in August. At the critical moment, CPC Central Committee led all citizens and soldiers to make every effort to deal with the emergency and assigned Deng Zihui, the Vice Premier of the State Council, to be in charge of the leading work of flood prevention, and appointed Wang Renzhong as the chief commander and Zhang Pinghua as vice chief commander so as to mobilize all the citizens to participate in flood prevention. From 30th June to 3rd September, to reinforce the embankment, over 289,000 citizens organized by Wuhan authority dug and filled an earthwork of more than 3270,000 cubic meters and 280,000 cubic meters stones. Eventually the terrible flood was overcome and safety returned to Wuhan. In 1969, a flood prevention monument was set up in Bingjiang Park, Hankou.

Source of the above information: Dictionary of the renowned city of history and culture in China?DWuhan

12 Great Events Affecting the History of Wuhan Development in the Past 50 Years


Liberation of Wuhan

At approximately 1:00 PM on 15th May 1949, Bai Chongxi, the military and political commander of KMT in central China and commander of government office, fled from Wuhan in 「Chasing Cloud」 plane. At 2:00 PM on 16th, Hankou declared its liberation as soon as the 118th heading army of the 4th Field Army entered its urban district. On the morning of 17th, the first subdivision of the 153rd division of the Field Army entered Wuchang from Gedian. The same day over 10,000 officers and men of the independent brigade in Jianghan military areas started from Caidian and then liberated Hanyang. Three towns won their liberation successively. On 22nd, Wuhan military control committee was set up, while Wuhan People’s Government was established the next day. On 25th, Wuhan Committee of the Communist Party of China came into existence. Wuhan won a new lease of life at that very moment.

Flood Control in 1954

It has been raining continuously in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River since May 1954. The warning line of 26.3m in Wuhanguan was exceeded on 25th June. On 18th August, it was rarely seen that Wuhanguan flood level rose to 29.73m in 100 years. Immediately Wuhan People’s Government established a flood Control headquarters with Wang Renzhong as the commander in chief and 10 branches, which organized 290,000 citizens to carry out the combat. Stones of 3,550,000 cubic meters, 6,210,000 gunny bags, 3,040,000 straw bags, 830,000 reed mats, reed bavin and sorghum stalks of over 4,500,000 kilograms and 380,000 bulrush dustpans together with trains, trucks and barges were employed to prevent the catastrophic flood. At the same time, Wuhan CPC Committee and Municipal Government developed honor-awarding activities among soldiers and citizens, of whom 15,137 were chosen as heroes rendering outstanding service in combat against flood. On 18th October, the level began to fall, and till 3rd October, it fell below the warning line. After fighting against the catastrophic flood for nearly 100 days and nights, Wuhan won the final triumph, which has demonstrated the advantage of socialist system and the experience played an important role in the future flood prevention.

Completion and Opening-to-traffic of the First Yangtze River Bridge

The project of building the First Yangtze River Bridge was regarded as one of the key projects during the period of the first five-year plan. The Engineering Bureau of the First Yangtze River Bridge, set up by the Ministry of Railway in April 1953, was responsible for the design and construction of the bridge. The document 「Resolutions on Building the First Yangtze River Bridge」 was passed in the 203rd conference of State Council on 15th January 1954. The technical conference on the routes of the bridge, was held in Hankou on 15th January, 1955, determined that the route from Tortoise Hill to Snake Hill was the best choice. On 25th October, the bridge proper was under construction. The same day in 1957 the whole project was completed and an opening-to-traffic ceremony was held on 15th October. The whole bridge was 1670m long, of which the superstratum was a highway with a width of 22.5m and the substratum was a double-line railway with a width of 18m. The bridge proper was 1156m long with two pairs of eight piers and nine arches with a space of 128m between each arch. Thanks to the First Yangtze River Bridge, Beijing-Wuhan and Guangdong-Wuhan railways were available and any place could be reached from Wuchang, Hankou to Hanyang. Thus Wuhan was a thoroughfare to nine provinces not only in reality but in name as well.

Construction of Two-hundred Projects

Based on successive 4 drafts from 1955 to 1957, Municipal Planning Commission drew up the second five-year plan. On 22nd July 1958, a conference of all committees present, held by Wuhan Municipal Committee of CPC in Lushan Mountain, passed the document 「Resolutions on the second five-year plan (a draft) of Wuhan local industry」 which stipulated the total investments in 196 new and extension projects (generally called Two-hundred projects) during the period of the second five-year plan was RMB3.438 billion yuan, among which RMB 2.557 billion yuan should be invested in heavy industries, accounting for 74.37%, and most of the projects should be completed in two years. Some adjustments had been made on the second five-year plan in December 1959, for instance, 196 projects were reduced to 118, which plus 17 central and provincial projects were 135 projects in all and five-year total investments of 3.437 billion yuan were decreased to 1.396 billion yuan. Due to adjustments, amalgamation and compression on original projects, 87 projects of them were actually put to start working, among which 50 items were above norm while 37 were below. However, in fact some of the 87 projects failed to be finished, which indicated that the construction scale of the two-hundred projects was so broad and authorities were so anxious for success that the construction was divorced from reality. But the construction together with national key projects in Wuhan laid the foundation for the relatively complete industry system in Wuhan.

Dongxihu Enclosure for Cultivation Project

Primary advice on the Dongxihu enclosure for cultivation project has been presented by Yangtze River Water Resources Commission in 1952. Wuhan Water Conservancy Bureau brought forward the issue on the Dongxihu enclosure for cultivation to provincial and municipal leaders in May 1956. National Planning Commission determined that the enclosure for cultivation was a part of the second five-year plan in October the same year. On 6th August 1957, Ministry of Water Resources authorized the project to be under construction formally and in October, State Economic Commission approved the budget of the project and authorized an investment of RMB 38,000,000 yuan. On 8th the same month, the project headquarters was set up in Hubei with Governor Zhang Tixue as its commander. The project was started in Jinyintan on 15th November and 120,000 workers from Wuhan, Huanggang, Xiaogan, Yunmeng as well as Henan worked day and night on the construction site without resting in Spring Festival. As a result, the levee around Dongxihu region of nearly 60 kilometers was basically completed with an earthwork of 14,346,726 cubic meters. The whole project was basically finished in the middle of July. On 3rd August the largest vegetable base came into being after the project’s acceptance.

Completion of 1.7m Rolling Mill Project of WISC

The key 1.7 rolling mill project of WISC, introduced from West Germany and Japan, was started on 7th September 1974. The project planned an annual production capacity of 3,000,000-ton hot steel rolling boards, 1,000,000-ton cold thin steel rolling boards and 70,000-ton cold silicon plates and programmed to employ the latest foreign technology in the 1970s, which characterized the whole project of large-scale, automation, high-speed and progression. The project, basically finished in December 1978, paved a path for the adoption of foreign technical resources in 1970s. Thus WISC was promoted to be the most advanced steel enterprise in the country at that time.

Wuhan Approved by State Counci as a Trial City for Comprehensive Reform of Economic Structure

On 21st May 1984, CPC Central Committee and State Council approved Wuhan to be a trial city for comprehensive reform of economic structure, which stipulated implementation of single national economic plan, limits of provincial economic management’s authority and hand-over of enterprises governed by central government or province to Wuhan authority. With the advice of experts and scholars, municipal committee and municipal government made a policy 「open Wuhan to other cities and make intimate contact between cities and countries」 in June. On 29th the same month, Mayor Wu Guanzheng declared that Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang were available to south and north and all people in the country, and a 240,000m2 ground was offered to investors at home and abroad for economy development in the press conference. The comprehensive reform of Wuhan economic structure began.

Wuhan Listed as a Renowned Historical & Cultural City of the Country

Wuhan features a long history, profound culture, glorious revolutionary tradition as well as distinctive natural scenes. On 8th December 1986, State Council declared the 38 cities including Wuhan the second batch of famous historical & cultural cities of the country. Statistics in 1998 suggested there were 169 preservation institutions of culture relics on or above municipal level, among which 4 were on national level, 61 on provincial level and 104 on municipal level. Splendid culture contributed greatly to the development of Wuhan.

Small-Commodity Bazaar of Hanzheng Street Reopened

In September 1979, Wuhan Municipal Committee of the CPC and Wuhan Municipal Government approved of reopening the small-commodity bazaar of Hanzheng Street in Qiaokou District, and in order to encourage and attract more self-employed individuals to do business here, certain preferential policies have been practiced, such as the de-rating of tax and management fee. With its development of more than 20 years, it has grown from a 1,623-m long major street to a small-commodity bazaar of national standard with 2.56-km2 large business area till the end of 1996. The self-employed individuals and privately owned firms have surged from zero to 12,968, and state-owned and collective firms have developed from several dozens to 1,480, which results in an employment of 420,000 people. With a daily average customer flow of 150,000 people, over 30 indoor professional markets serve more than 60,000 kinds of commodities, producing a sales volume of RMB 8,000,000,000, 21% of Wuhan social commodity’s annual retail volume. And the tax paid by the self-employed individuals reaches RMB 70,000,000. The small-commodity bazaar of Hanzheng Street takes a leading position in above-mentioned aspects in all the large-scale bazaars throughout the country. Nowadays, there are 15 branch bazaars named after Hanzheng Street that were scattered all over China. As its development has prompted the initial step of urban reform and the establishment of socialist market economic system, it is dubbed as 「the first street under heaven」.

Wuhan Open to the Outside World

In May 1992, Wuhan was approved to be a city open to the outside world, and in August, Japanese Rikuawan, the first foreign liner, sailed to arrive at Qingshan wharf of Wuhan Port. Wuhan Municipal Committee of the CPC and Wuhan Municipal Government tried to seize opportunities and emancipate the mind to speed up the pace of reform and opening up. From 1984 to 1997, the city signed 3,353 programs on foreign investment, using an actual foreign investment of USD 4,929,000,000. The actual used foreign investment for 1998 was USD 1,056,000,000. Till the end of 1998, more than 50 countries and regions had come to Wuhan to invest or seek co-operation, and 1,755 foreign invested enterprises had started production. The French consulate in Wuhan was also officially set up. Witnessing a rapid development in foreign trade, Wuhan boasted a total import and export value of USD 7,730,000,000 from 1991 to 1997, and that of foreign trade companies of municipal level for 1998 reached USD 1,800,000,000. Wuhan’s economy is advancing towards international level.

East Lake High-tech Development Zone & Wuhan Economic & Technical Development Zone Established

The preparations were made for the construction of East Lake high-tech development zone since 1988, and it was approved to be a high-tech industrial development zone by the State Council in 1991. Up to 1996, high-tech enterprises in the zone had surged to over 700 and foreign invested enterprises over 300. Its total output value reached RMB 6,600,000,000 in 1997. The preparations were made for the construction of Wuhan economic & technical development zone from December 1990. Officially approved to be set up by the State Council in April 1993, it had introduced 611 programs with a total investment of RMB 23,550,000,000 till early 1997. The total output value for 1997 was RMB 6,300,000,000, and also in that year 30,035 Fukang sedans were produced. The total output values of the two zones for 1998 hit RMB 19,400,000,000, a 48.1% rise from that for 1997, which promoted the city’s industry to an increase of 8%. They have already become new economic growth points and showcases to the outside world of Wuhan.

Fight against Flood in 1998

During the summer of 1998, successive torrential rain struck the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River so that 8 flood peaks were formed with the largest flood peak discharge of 72,300 cubic meters per second in Hankou. The flood level at Wuhanguan port was going up constantly to 29.43m till August 19. Fighting the flood and rushing to deal with the emergency became the most paramount of all. Under the guidance of Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji present in Wuhan, thousands of hundreds of soldiers and citizens united as one to fight the flood, of whom, 370,000 fought bravely at the forefront of the battle against flood and used 2,350,000 cubic meters of earth and stone, 1,584 woven bags, gunny bags and straw bags, and obviated 2,192 possible places of emergency. The catastrophic flood was at last defeated through people’s fighting for nearly one hundred days. While fighting the catastrophic flood, Wuhan also realized the steady and constant growth of national economy through people’s joint efforts to promote production. Wuhan’s GDP was as high as RMB 101,600,000,000 and its revenue hit RMB 10,006,000,000, which laid a solid foundation for Wuhan’s development in the 21st century.