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Brilliant Past & Promising Future
Latest Updated by 2003-09-16 15:00:51

Legend has it that in the reign of Emperor Yiwang in the Zhou Dynasty a long time ago, the weather in Guangzhou was not so humid as it is today, and severe droughts broke out from time to time.

One summer when a terrible drought struck the land, causing a total destruction of all crops, even the weeds were drying up. The desperate locals prayed for a timely rain, while they reaped not even a raindrop. Many people died because of a lack of food. As a popularly known saying goes, "Good luck never turns against the kind-hearted people", every thing suddenly changed in the favor of the local people, as if they were in a dream.

Riding on the back of rams, five immortals appeared in Guangzhou with rice ears in their rams' mouths. The immortals gave the rice ears to the locals as a gift, and taught them how to plant rice. The immortals also wished the locals a happy life with bumper harvests and without hunger forever. And then they were gone with the wind and with their five rams left behind, turned into a stone in this world of mortals. This wonderful story has been passed down from generation to generation since then, bringing a sweet and mysterious ancient memory to the locals, newcomers and visitors as well. If you surf online and visit any official website of Guangzhou, you will inevitably come across the image of the five rams, which always brings you happiness in life and work.

    Standing at the top of Mt.Yuexiu, the present Statue of Rams and Zhenhailou (Five-Story) Tower have already become a symbol of the long ancient history of Guangzhou City. Hence, Guangzhou got another name: the City of Five Rams (Yangcheng in Chinese), or the City of Rice-Ears (Suicheng in Chinese). With such a long ancient history of 2 200 years was Guangzhou selected by the State Council one of the first 24 ancient historical and cultural cities in China early in the year 1958.

Guangzhou is, obviously, an outstanding city with a brilliant past as well as a promising future. About a century ago, Guangzhou was the only port opened to the outside world in the Qing Dynasty (1757-1837 AD) in China. A Custom Office (1865) was set up then in Guangzhou, and the local Shisanhang (the 13 trades), as a semi-government and semi-commercial monopoly, was commissioned to engage in foreign trade. Guangzhou played the role of the "showcase" to the outside world. Perhaps, in the last decades of the Qing Dynasty and in the period of the Republic of China (1921-1949), Shamian Concession became so-called "New Shisanhang". It was "rented" by the foreign powers at that time and about 1 000 kweilos (foreigners) there engaged in local business with a lot of privileges. Facing those intruding foreign powers, a campaign of learning from Western advanced technology was launched, and a foreign language institute entitled Tongwenguan was set up in the second year of the Tongzi Reign (in 1864), located at today's Chaotian Primary School in Yuexiu District. Several western languages were taught here, surely English first. The locals got an opportunity to learn about the outside world, including the Western culture and technology. It couldn't be purely a historical coincidence that in 1980s, just one century later, Guangzhou should be chosen again as one of the few pilot cities opened up to the outside world. History always repeats itself! There are always good guys and bad guys in power in history. If only the good guys were in power! Is it possible to choose only good guys to lead us?

 Guangzhou has long been known as well for its revolutionary tradition and unforgettable historic events, such as Sanyuanli Struggle (1841) against the British Invaders, Huanghuagang Uprising, Guangzhou Commune Movement. Guangzhou also has a glorious page in the Chinese modern history as the base of anti-feudalist movements in China in the later Qing Dynasty, as the location of the early KMT (the Nationalist) government led by Dr Sun Yat-sen and Whampoa (Huangpu) Military Academy, and as the cutting edge of the present economic reforms in China's four-modernizations drive. 

Guangzhou was also one of the first places where China's national industries started. In the later half of the 19th century, three official departments in Guangdong were set up in charge of machine building, weaving and currency publishing. Qiaoming Match Factory in 1865 in Nanhai, Jichanglong Silk Mill built in 1872, Guangzhou Light Company in 1890 and Chaozhou-Shantou Railway in 1906. Those four were the first Chinese national industries in China.

Editor: Catherine

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By:Jin Huikang Source:South CN
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