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Zhongshan History
Updated: 2019-01-22    Source: Large Medium Small Print


Zhongshan was named Xiangshan due to "abundant in fairy flowers". The ancient Xianghan is an island at the Lingdingyang Bay outside the mouth of the Pearl River, and its boundary is the hilly area and upland in and around present Mountain Wugui and Mount Phoenix (now in Zhuhai), namely the land from Shiqi to Macao. Since the Tang Dynasty, a broad alluvial plain has gradually formed because of continuous deposition of large amounts of sediment carried by the Pearl River. After the Song and Yuan Dynasties, the area of the alluvial plain turned by the sea accounted for about two thirds of the total original land area. People called it the Eighteen Sand of West Sea, which is now the towns of Xiaolan, Dongsheng, Tanbei, Henglan and others. Till the Ming Dynasty, the alluvial plain continued to expand and was called the Sixteen Sand of East Sea, which is now the towns of Dongfeng, Nantou, Huangpu, Fusha, Sanjiao, Langwang, Minzhong, Gangkou and others. In the Qing Dynasty, the southwest plain containing such towns as Banfu, Shenwan, Sanxiang and Tanzhou formed to the south of the present Gangkou Town and the east of the Modaomen Waterway. The changes of the sea and land make Shiqi joint to Shunde and Panyu in the north, becoming a part of the alluvial plain of the Pearl River Delta.

After liberation, archaeologists discovered 9 Neolithic cultural sites, including Mashan in the west of Shiqi District and Longxue Village in Nanlang Town, and unearthed many stone tools, colored potteries, sandy clay and other artifacts, indicating that in the middle and late Neolithic Age (5,000 years ago) in Zhongshan, the indigenous ancient Yue People had already hunted and lived on the Xiangshan Island.

In the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the Xiangshan Island belonged to the land in the sea of the Bai Yue people. In the Qin, Han, Jin and Sui Dynasties, it belonged to Nanhai, Panyun County in Nanhai Prefecture, Dongguan Prefecture and Bao’an County respectively. And in the Tang Dynasty, it became Xiangshan Town, belonging to Dongguan County, and covered the current Shixi, Shaxi, Dachong, South District, Shenwan, Sanxiang, Shenwan, Shitang, Cuiheng, Wuguishan, Nanlang, Zhangjiabian Towns as well as Shanchang, Qianshan, Tangjia and Xiazha Towns in Zhuhai. In the 22nd year of Shaoxing reign period in the Southern Song Dynasty (1152), Yao Xiaozi, the county magistrate of Dongguan, accepted the proposal of Chen Tianjue (a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations) to upgrade Xiangshan from Xiangshan Town to Xiangshan County, and annexed the coastal areas of Nanhai, Panyu and Xinhui to it, which originally belonged to Guangzhou. 

When Xiangshan became a county, the territory of Xiangshan County was a group of unconnected islands with a population of nearly 10,000 families. The economy featured fishery and agriculture and the county was listed as a sub-county in the Southern Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties and the early and middle Qing Dynasty. During this period, the Portuguese occupied Macao in 1553 and implemented autonomy. In 1849, Xiangshan County lost its control over Macao. In the Qing Dynasty, when Emperor Jiaqing and Daoguang held power, the population of Xiangshan County swelled due to rapid growth of the alluvial plain, implementation of the recuperation policy and moving of immigrants from the Central Plain. Thanks to the advanced production techniques and good varieties, agriculture of Xiangshan County developed quickly, making Xiangshan the fecund land in Guangdong. At that time, “there were more households than other counties.” 

In 1911, the Revolution of 1911 broke out and was successful. On May 5, 1921, the National Government of the Republic of China was founded in Guangzhou. Sun Yat-sen assumed the Presidency, declared the beginning of the military and political period and promoted governmental framework. The election of magistrate in Xiangshan County was carried out between the summer and autumn of 1921 and later Wu Tiecheng was elected. Sun Yat-sen died in Beijing on March 12, 1925. On April 15, Xiangshan County was renamed Zhongshan County to commemorate Sun Yat-sen. The people of Zhongshan (Xiangshan) enjoyed a glorious revolutionary tradition in the modern Chinese history. The tradition has been fully developed in the revolutionary era of nearly half a century. The revolutionary spirit of defending the nation has been influential ever since then. 

On November 6 and 7, 1911, driven by the Wuchang Uprising, the revolutionary armed forces in Xiangshan County, under the direct leadership of the Macao General Branch of the Southern Coordinating Department of the Tongmenghui, marched from Longdu, Liangdu and Qianshan to the county seat, occupied the county government and established the Provisional Military Government of Xiangshan County. And this was the Xiangshan Uprising period in the Year of Xinhai. When Long Jiguang governed Guangdong, Ren Henian, Lin Jinghun and other revolutionaries of Xiangshan County, launched the Longdu Uprising in 1916 and organized many battles at such strategic passes as Shiqi Ocean, Mashan and Xihe Road. They gave a heavy blow to Long Jiguang and his agent in Xiangshan. Later, some people set up the Xishan Monument of Shiqi to commemorate this matter.

After Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, the Japanese army occupied the Sanzao Island (now part of Zhuhai) of the seventh district in Zhongshan County in February 1938. Zhongshan entered the period of joint Anti-Japanese War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. Due to joint efforts, the army and the people of Zhongshan successively won in the Battle of Hengmen and the Battle of Hengmen and Zhangjiabian, among other battles, in 1939. After the fall of Zhongshan in 1940, the people of Zhongshan County, under the leadership of the central county of Zhongshun in Nanpan CPC and Special Party Committee of the Pearl River CPC, established a guerrilla brigade of Zhongshan to fight against the enemy in the base area of Mountain Wugui. The guerrillas actively launched the Anti-Japanese armed struggles in the enemy’s rear area and won in such battles as Sanxiang, Qi'ao Island and the area of Mountain Wugui. According to statistics, in the entire Anti-Japanese War, the Anti-Japanese guerrillas of Zhongshan were successively engaged in over 140 battles with the Japanese army under the direct command of the headquarters of the Nanpan Zhongshun Guerrilla Area in Guangdong and Pearl River Column of the People Anti-Japanese Guerrillas in Guangdong. The leaders such as Lin Qiangyun, Liang Jia and Luo Zhangyou made great contributions for liberation of Zhongshan and have been famed for later generations.

After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, the Kuomintang launched a large-scale civil war against the wishes of the whole nation for peace and democracy. The Zhongshan Special Mission Office of the Party did a lot of publicity work upon the Kuomintang’s reaction. In the second half of 1949, the Party organizations and the people's armed organizations in Zhongshan County expanded rapidly, such as the Zhongshan Independent Regiment (ZIR) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army that was established in Changjiang Township of Zhongshan County in mid-September of 1949 and made enough preparation for liberation of Zhongshan County. 

On October 30, 1949, the local people's armed forces in Zhongshan and the former masses of Mountain Wugui base area met with the vanguard of the Guangdong and Guangxi column of the PLA in Shiqi, marking the day of Zhongshan liberation. On August 4, 1950, the whole Zhongshan County was liberated.

The ancient Zhongshan (Xiangshan) was unknown to the public in the history of the development of Chinese society. Both its economy and culture were in a relatively backward position in the whole Pearl River Delta Region. This situation had not been improved until the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. In the 23rd year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1684), the then Guangdong government announced abolishment of the “Order of Prohibition of Settlement in Coastal Areas”, and the social economy and culture of Zhongshan entered a period of rapid development. In the period of Republic of China, Zhongshan became famous for being "the county of fish and rice” and gained rich local fiscal revenue. In 1929 Zhongshan was designated as the national exemplary county by the national government, and in 1948 designated as the provincial demonstration county by People's Government of Guangdong Province, thus playing an important role in the whole country all along.

After liberation, Zhongshan County witnessed rapid development and changes. In April 1950, it was listed as a special county by the Department of Civil Affairs of Guangdong Province. Since then, the main economic indicators were still in the forefront among the Province's more than 100 counties in spite of gradually being partitioned from Zhuhai County and Doumen County (most part) as well as such partitioned parts being incorporated later in counties such as Panyu, Shunde and Xinhui. In 1982, Zhongshan County was listed as one of the richest counties in China by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fishery. In December 1983, Zhongshan was approved to change its administrative unit from county to city. In January 1988, Zhongshan became a prefecture-level city, entering the process of urban economic development and achieving remarkable achievements. In 1989, it was listed by the National Bureau of Statistics as one of the first six Chinese cities to enter the well-off level. 

Zhongshan has long been famous for its outstanding people. In the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty, when the imperial examinations gradually prevailed, 16 successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations and over 180 successful candidates in the imperial examinations at the provincial level were from Zhongshan and their representative works reached 460 volumes. Among them were Huang Zuo, who was the editor in chief of General Annals of Guangdong, and He Wuzou, who served as the Grand Secretary of the Nan Ming Dynasty. When it comes to modern times, men of talents came out in succession in Xiangshan, making Xiangshan a collection of shining stars. Due to special geography of adjacency to Hong Kong and Macao and multitude of overseas Chinese, Xiangshan became trend-setting and Xiangshan people started to go global, narrowing the distance between Xiangshan and the world. As a result, Xiangshan people’s recognition of global civilizations was greatly improved, the modern thinking of the Xiangshan people to welcome the world trend was opened, the trend of thoughts of democratic revolution was nurtured, and a group of figures with significant impacts on the democratic revolution in modern China were born. The people in Xiangshan have long opposed feudalism, aggression of imperialist and bureaucrat capitalism, forming a glorious and fine revolutionary tradition. And with taking the initiative as their spirit, they have become a brilliant chapter in modern history.

Yung Wing, the first Chinese educated in a foreign institution of higher learning and receiving his bachelor's degree and doctor's degree, and China's first bourgeois intellectual, and Zheng Guanying, the most famous bourgeois reformist in China, and the author of Prosperous Prophecy, played a leading role in the Hundred Days of Reform led by Kang Youwei. The bourgeois democratic revolution led by Sun Yat-sen (the great forerunner of the democratic revolution born in Cuiheng Village) had a closer relationship with Xiangshan and its people. He was the initiator, leader and organizer of the revolutionary movement that changed the historical destiny of the Chinese society. Xiangshan fellow villagers were always the supporters and participants of his cause, among whom, Cheng Kuiguang, Cheng Yaochen and Lu Haodong all sacrificed for the revolution. It can be said that in modern China, the people in Xiangshan, represented by Sun Yat-sen, were the first to hold up the banner of democratic revolution and advocated to overthrow the 2,000-year feudal autocratic rule by revolution and establish an independent, free and equal democratic republic. Xiangshan County is also known as the "Township of Aviation” for "the Father of the Chinese Air Force", Yang Xianyi (born in Beitai), and the first female pilot in China Zhu Mufei (born in Xiya). 

From Xiangshan were Yang Pao'an (the earliest theorist propagating Marxism in southern China), Su Zhaozheng (one of the leaders of the Guangdong-Hongkong Strike), Yang Yin (alternate member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Sixth CPC Central Committee and minister of the Military Affairs of the CPC Central Committee), and other martyrs in the New Democratic Revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, such as Lin Weiming, Li Huazhao and Li Yanmeng. In the fight against the Japanese imperialist invasion, the heroic battle groups and fighters, such as the First Detachment of the Pearl River Column, emerged from Zhongshan. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, they opened an anti-Japanese base in the mountainous areas of Wugui, fought hard and won a brilliant victory in the anti-Japanese guerrilla war in Zhongshan. 

During the period of the Liberation War, the First Detachment of the Pearl River Column stood their ground at Mountain Wugui and fought bravely against the Kuomintang reactionaries, finally ushering in the liberation of Zhongshan. In modern times, the Xiangshan people made great contributions to the modernization of China with the spirit of unity, patriotism, realism and innovation. Yung Wing was one of the pioneers of China's modernization. Tang Tingshu, Xu Run, Zheng Guanying and other people had directly participated in a series of activities of “strength and prosperity” in the Westernization Movement, and undertook a lot of initiatives in establishment of industry. Ma Yingbiao, Guo Le, Guo Quan, Liu Xiji, Li Minzhou, Cai Chang, Cai Xing, the founders of the four largest department stores in modern China - Sincere, Wing On, Sun Sun and Da Sun, were all from Xiangshan. 

The Zhongshan people have made important contributions to the educational and cultural undertakings of modern China. Zhong Rongguang (founder of Lingnan University), Su Manshu (outstanding litterateur and artist), Ruan Lingyu (a famous female actress), Xiao Youmei (the founder of music education in modern China) and Lyu Wencheng (a leading composer, singer and reformer of music in Guangdong) played important roles in the history of modern Chinese culture. From a certain perspective, these celebrities of educational and cultural undertakings in Xiangshan also promoted the cultural development in Xiangshan to a certain extent and brought the heyday of Xiangshan style of study. In the meantime, the early childhood education, higher education and even vocational education and military education witnessed a thriving development and shared the greatness of Xiangshan (Zhongshan) as an exemplary county. 

The celebrities of Zhongshan have made their own contributions to Chinese civilization. And the history inspires us make contributions to Zhongshan's development by inheriting the historical and cultural essence of Zhongshan and the spirit of "taking the initiative".

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