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The History of Xiangshan


Zhongshan still remained an unknown small town in a corner of Lingnan a hundred years ago. But an epoch-making progress was gained when Sun Yat-sen and his men and the following men went out of here. However, the rapid development and emergence of Zhongshan began in the tide of reform and opening to outside in the 1980s and 1990s. Complete progress was made in aspects of social development, economy and civilization and it became a starring pearl in the Pearl River Delta. Efforts and sweats of twenty years went before the world hears. After challenges and sufferings a giant image of striving Zhongshan was gradually built.

Zhongshan Archives Bureau has persisted in the faith of archives serving for and known by society and long efforts were made in collection, protection and utilization of historical archives since its foundation. We have selected some photos from Zhongshan Archives to exhibit in the Online Show together with some documentary pictures collected from other departments. The Online Show is divided into 6 parts and shows the history of the last hundred years, especially the grand progress of the last twenty years in complete aspects and multi-perspectives. We will give our heartfelt gratitude to City Culture Bureau, Bureau of Overseas Chinese Affairs and others for their great supports.

The History of Xiangshan

Zhongshan in ancient times was called Xiangshan which was named after rich divine flowers. The ancient Xiangshan was a lonely island of Lingding Sea beyond the mouth of Pear River, namely what’s now called Wuguishan Mountain, Fenghuangshan Mountain (now Zhuhai City) and the surrounding hills and uplands, i.e. the land from Shiqi to Macao. Since Tang Dynasty a wide alluvial plain had been gradually formed because of the constant sediment of sand and soil carried by Pearl River. During Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty the land added by the sea was of about two thirds of the original land, which is called the sand area of the Western Sea, i.e. what’s now called Xiaolan, Dongsheng, Tanbei, Henglan, etc. In Ming Dynasty the alluvial plain continued to extend with new-added land called the sand area of Eastern Sea, namely what’s now called Dongfeng, Nantou, Huangpu, Fusha, Sanjiao, Langwang, Minzong, Gangkou, etc. When it came to Qing Dynasty the southwestern part of the plain came into being including Banfu, Shenwan, Sanxiang, Tanzhou, etc. in the south of Gangkou and the east of Modaomen Waterway. With those changes of land and seas it integrated the north with the land of Shunde and Panyu and became a part of the alluvial plain of Pearl River Triangle.

After the foundation of PRC archeologists discovered 9 cultural relic sites in Mashan of West Shiqi District, Longxue Village of Nanlang, etc. and found a number of stoneware, painted pottery and others, which showed that ancient Chinese had inhabited in Xiangshan Island by fishing and hunting in the middle and late of the Neolithic Ages 5000 years before.

Xiangshan island belonged to Baiyue Isles in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, Nanhai County in Qin Dynasty, Panyu City Nanhai County in Han Dynasty, Dongguan County in Jin Dynasty and Bao’an County in Sui Dynasty. When it came to Tang Dynasty it belonged to Dongguan County and was set up as Xiangshan Town including what’s now called Shiqi, Shaxi, Dayong, Southern District, Shenwan, Sanxiang, Shenwan, Cuiheng, Wuguishan Mountain, Nanlang and Zhangjiabian of Zhongshan City and Shanchang, Qianshan, Tangjia and Xiazha of Zhuhai City. In 1152 Yao Xiaozi, the governor of Dongguan County followed the advice of Chen Tianjue, a scholar and changed Xiangshan Town into Xiangshan County which subordinated Nanhai, Panyu and Xinhu and was subordinated by Guangzhou.

When Xiangshan was titled with Xiangshan County, it was a land of isolated islands with a population of less than 10,000 and a behind economy of half fishing and half agriculture. It was taken as an inferior county from South Song Dynasty to early and middle Qing Dynasty. Portuguese invaded Macao and ruled it with autonomy and in 1849 Xiangshan lost the administrative rights of Macao. By Jiaqing and Daoguang Period of Qing Dynasty, rapid progress had been made in agriculture and it became a land of fertile soil because of accumulated sediment, long-term development and large number of immigrants as well as their advanced technologies and superior seeds.

The Revolution of 1911 broke out and succeeded and the government of Republic of China with Sun Yat-sen as President was built in Guangzhou on May 5, 1921. And then a term of stratocracy was announced and the administrative structure was gradually completed. In that autumn Wu Tiecheng was elected by people as Governor of Xiangshan. Sun Yat-sen died on Mar. 12, 1925 and Xiangshan was renamed as Zhongshan in memory of Sun Yat-sen on Apr. 15. Li Luchao, Huang Jusu, TangShao yi, Liang Hongshen, Yang Ziyi, Zhang Huichang, etc, were successive governors.

Zhongshan (Xiangshan) has an honored tradition of revolution in the modern history of China as shown in the revolutionary period of nearly half century and their spirit of protecting our nation is still impressive at present.

Xiangshan revolutionary armed forces that was directly led by Macao Branch of the Southern Department, the United League of China, attacked the capital and seized the workplace of the government in three ways from Longdu, Liangdu and Qianshan under the drive of Wuchang Uprising on 6 and 7 of November 1911. It formed the Contemporary Military Government of Xiangshan, which was the period of Xiangshan Uprising of the Revolution of 1911. When it came to the period of evil deeds of Long Jiguang, Ren Henian and Lin Jinghun as well as other member of the Revolutionary Party organized Longdu Uprising in 1916 and gave a vital strike to Long Jiguang and his representatives in battles of Shiqihai, Mashan and passes of Hexi Road, which was memorized in Xishan Monument of Shiqi by late people.

After the Incident of July 7, 1937 Japanese invaded Sanzao island (now in Zhuhai City) in February of 1938 and Zhongshan came into a period of anti-Japanese invasion in cooperation with the CPC. Victories were gained in battles of Hengmen, Zhangjiabian and some others in 1939 with the common efforts of the army and the people.

Zhongshan was occupied by Japanese in 1940 and the people of Zhongshan built a base and a guerilla in Wuguishan Mountain and won the battles of Sanxiang, Qi’ao Island and the Fight for Wuguishan Mountain, etc, under the leadership of the CPC.

As shown in statistics, Zhongshan Guerilla organized over 140 fights with Japanese in the whole period of Anti-Japanese War. And leaders like Lin Qiangyun, LiangJia, LuoZhang, etc, contributed a great deal to the liberation of Zhongshan, which is honored by the late people.

When the Anti-Japanese War is finished, the Kuomintang regardless of people’s wish for peace and democracy, started a large-scaled civil war and the Zhongshan Special Office of the CPC did a great deal on propaganda. And rapid development of Zhongshan Organization of the CPC and people’s armed forces had been gained by the second half of 1949, which made adequate preparation for the liberation of Zhongshan.

People’s armed forces of Zhongshan and people in Wuguishan Base succeeded in meeting the spearhead force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on Oct. 30, 1949, which is taken as Zhongshan Liberation Day.

Zhongshan was liberated completely on Aug. 4, 1950.

Ancient Zhongshan (Xiangshan) is unknown in the history of social development of China and it is a behind place in Pearl River Dleta either in economy or culture, which is not basically changed until the period of Kangxi Emperor. Guangdong abolished the Act of Qianjie which forbade habitat in coastal areas in 1684 and since then a period of rapid development in society, economy and culture had came to Zhongshan. Zhongshan had become a major county of fish and rice production. It was honored as the National Modal Town by the government of Kuomintang for adequate local financial revenue in 1929 and it is honored with the title of the Demonstrative Town of Guangdong Province by Guangdong Government in 1948. After liberation, rapid progress was achieved in Zhongshan which appeared in the list of superior towns. Afterwards though Zhuhai, Doumen (major parts) and some other places were separated from Zhongshan, its main indexes of economy were in the first places of Guangdong. Zhongshan was in the list of National Rich Towns in 1982 and it became a city in December of 1983 and further a prefecture-level city in January of 1988. Since then Zhongshan has stepped into a course of development of municipal economy and evident achievements have been made. Zhongshan appeared in the list of the first six cities which stepped into the well-off state of our nation

The birth of talents has long brought glory to Zhongshan, in which 16 men were successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations and 180 men were successful candidates in the imperial examinations at the provincial level in the Jiajing Period of Ming dynasty. One representative was Huang Zuo who had works of as many as 460 volumes and worked in compiling The General Chorography of Guangdong as a chief editor. And another was He Wuzou a prime minister in the South Ming Dynasty. In modern times there were more famous men. Xiangshan stepped to outside world due to geological advantages and a large number of overseas Chinese, which cultivated the thought of democratic revolution and a number of important figures in the modern democratic revolution of China. Zhongshan has had a revolutionary tradition in the long term of anti-feudalism, anti-imperialism and anti-bureaucrat and written a glorious page in the modern history with the pioneering spirit

Rong Hong is the first Chinese bachelor and doctor graduated from a foreign higher institute and also the first intellectual of bourgeois; Zheng Guanying is one of the most famous bourgeois reformists and his work Warn People of a Flourishing Era makes guidance to the Reform Movement of 1898 by Kang Youwei. The democratic revolution of bourgeois led by Sun Yat-sen the revolutionary pioneer, born in Cuiheng Village is more connected with Xiangshan and the people of Xiangshan. Sun Yat-sen is the leader of the revolutionary campaign which changes the history of China and his townsmen have long been his supporters, of which Cheng Kuiguang, Cheng Yaochen as well as Lu Haodong lost their lives for the revolution. In modern China it is Xiangshan people with Sun Yat-sen as a representative that first hold the banner of the democratic revolution and claim to pull down the feudalism of over 2000 years to build an independent, free and equal republic in a revolutionary way. There are some other honored people, such as Yang Xianyi (Taiwanese), the father of Chinese air force and Zhu Mufei (Xiya people), the first woman pilot in China, which explains Zhongshan’s honor of “A Land of Aviation”.

There were also some geniuses in the new democratic revolution led by the CPC, such as Yang Pao’an who was one of the earliest theorists of Marxism in the South China, Su Zhaozheng who led Shenggang Strike and Yang Yin who was an alternate member of the Sixth Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC and the military minister of Central Committee of the CPC, and those excellent representatives of Zhongshan like Lin Weimin, Li Huazhao, Li Yanmeng, etc, devoted their lives to the revolution. And some brave military units and soldiers appeared and developed Wuguishan Anti-Japanese Base with glorious victories under the guide of the CPC in the Anti-Japanese War. In civil war the first branch of Pearl River army struggled to defend Wuguishan Base and finally met the liberation of Zhongshan.

The modern Xiangshan people contributed a great deal to the modernization of China with their spirit of solidification, patriotism, pragmaticism and innovation. Rong Hong was regarded as one of the pioneers of Chinese modernization, Tang Tingshu, Xu Run and Zheng Guanying, etc, were directly involved in the campaign of prosperous country and powerful army by introducing advanced science and technology from the west. The founders of the four largest department stores were Xiangshan people.

Xiangshan people made great contributions to modern education and culture in modern China. Zhong Rongguang set up Lingnan University; Su Manshu was a genius of literature and arts; Ruan Lingyu was a famous actress; Xiao Youmei was honored with the pioneer of modern music education; Lv Wencheng was a top music composer, singer and reformist. These educational and cultural giants promoted the cultural development of Xiangshan in some way and brought the prosperous development of education. 

The fathers of Xiangshan were devoted to Chinese social development and our history calls us to develop the essence of Xiangshan Culture and the pioneering spirit of Xiangshan people for further development of Zhongshan.

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