|Though a sub-provincial city, it enjoys the
same rights as possessed by a provincial government in terms of economic
management. Ningbo, "a large city" entitled to formulate
local laws and regulations, is also a famous historic city with rich
cultural heritage. It is the birthplace of the "Neolithic Hemudu
Culture" dating back more than 7,000 years. Two thousand years
ago, Xu Fu, a necromancer of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.), led a
fleet from here, thus becoming the first to commence China's exchanges
with other countries. Ningbo first rose to importance during the latter
part of the 5th century, when Korean shipping found it the most convenient
port for contacts with the southern capital at Nanjing (Nanking; then
called Chien-k'ang). Under the Tang dynasty (618-907) this traffic
continued. Although official relations lapsed after 838, private trade
continued on a large scale. In the 11th century Ningbo became a centre
of the coastal trade. Its importance grew with the establishment of
the Southern Song capital at Hangzhou in 1127, when overseas trade
to and from the capital flowed through Ningbo. It grew rapidly during
the Song (960-1279) and Yuen periods.
early period of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) brought a setback to
Ningbo's development. Overseas trade was deliberately curtailed
by the government and the building of oceangoing ships prohibited,
and even coastal trade was severely restricted. Ningbo was attacked
by Japanese pirates, and it became a defensive base of some importance.
Its growth seems to have stagnated, however, until the last quarter
of the 15th century, when the rural prosperity of its hinterland
began to recover.
This recovery was assisted when the Portuguese
began trading in Ningbo in 1545, at first illicitly, but later (after
1567) legally. Still later, Dutch and British merchants arrived,
and the Ningbo merchants began to trade with the China coast from
Manchuria to Canton, as well as with the Philippines and Taiwan.
Ningbo was the commercial centre of the coastal plain to the east
of Shaoxing and an outport for the Yangtze River Delta area, to
which it was linked by the Zhedong Canal leading to Shaoxing and
the Qiantang River. As a result, in the 17th and 18th centuries
the Ningbo merchants became important in China's internal commerce
and began to play a national role as bankers in the early 19th century.
In 1843 Ningbo was opened to foreign trade as a treaty port, but
trade declined, and its place was taken by Shanghai.
Ningbo ranked with Yangzhou and Guangzhou as the
three biggest ports for foreign trade in Tang Dynasty and with Guangzhou
and Quanzhou in Song Dynasty. In the early 20th century "Hong-band"
tailors from Ningbo traveled extensively throughout China making
their living. And now, Ningbo port is still one of the most important
ports in China. Its cargo handling capacity reached 150 million
tonnages in 2002, ranking second among the ports in the mainland
of China, and its container handling capacity amounted to 1,855,000
As it enjoys a sound infrastructural basis, Ningbo
has scored remarkable achievements in its social and economic development
since the beginning of reform and opening up. In 2002, the city's
GDP reached RMB150.03 billion, among which the per capita GDP makes
up 3331 dollars, the revenue RMB 25.8 billion. The average disposable
income of urban dwellers grew to RMB12,969.9 and the net income
of farmers climbed to RMB5,764. Nowadays, Ningbo has become an important
industrial city and foreign trade port in east China, a key city
and chemical industrial base in the Yangtze River delta and an economic
centre of Zhejiang Province.
Of a typical subtropical monsoon climate, Ningbo
features mild temperature with moderate humidity and distinctive
seasons, and it is an ideal resort to enjoy both natural and cultural
endowment. A tranquil coastal city, Ningbo's 500-km coastline forms
a scenic seascape. The Sun and the Moon Lakes, dug in the seventh
century, are a particularly beautiful sight. The people of Ningbo
have throughout their history had a deep affinity for the ocean.
Ningbo has great potentials in its development.
Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening, the Ningbo
people have pursued the trends of this new era. Visitors may witness
the dramatic changes that have taken place in this city: widened
roads, more diverse styles of dress on the part of the local people,
and Mandarin gradually supplanting the local Ningbo dialect. Ningbo
is an active participant in the progressive world trend. By the
year 2010, Ningbo will be modernised into a more open international
port city that boasts even stronger economy, more advanced science
and culture, greater affluence and better social fabrics and environment.