History of Xiamen

The city of Xiamen has a long history, with human activity recorded as early as 3,000 years ago. During the early Jin Dynasty, the place was made Tong'an County in 282 AD. During the Song Dynasty (960 AD–1279 AD), the city was a seaport open to foreign trade. The Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031 AD–1095 AD) spent some of his youth there while his father was a local bureaucrat on the government staff.

In 1387, the Ming Dynasty built a fort in Xiamen, then part of Quanzhou, to guard against pirates. After the Manchu Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming in 1644, Ming loyalist Koxinga, used Xiamen as a base to launch counterattacks against the invading Manchus from 1650 to 1660. In 1650, he named Xiamen Island, Siming State, or "Remembering the Ming". In 1662, Koxinga drove the Dutch from Taiwan and moved his operations there.

In 1680 AD, Siming State was abolished and renamed to Xiamen Subprefecture by the Emperor of Kangxi. The name "Siming" was changed back after the 1912 Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing Dynasty and the settlement was made a county. Later it reverted to the name Xiamen City. In 1949, Xiamen became a provincially administered city, then was upgraded to a vice-province-class city, or a municipality. Today, Siming is the name of main city district of downtown Xiamen.

In 1541, European traders (mainly Portuguese) first visited Xiamen, which was China's main port in the nineteenth century for exporting tea. As a result, Hokkien (also known as the Amoy dialect) had a major influence on how Chinese terminology was translated into European languages.

During the First Opium War between Britain and China, the British captured the city in the Battle of Amoy on 26 August 1841. Xiamen was one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanking (1842) at the end of the war. As a result, it was an early entry point for Protestant missions in China. Many natives of Xiamen and southern Fujian emigrated to Southeast Asia and Taiwan during the 19th and early 20th century, spreading Hokkien language and culture overseas.

During World War II, Xiamen was occupied by Japan from May 1938 to September 1945. In the Chinese Civil War that followed, the islands of Xiamen and Gulangyu were captured by Communist forces in October 1949 but an assault on the island of Jinmen was repelled by Nationalist defenders.In 1955 and 1958, mainland China escalated Cold War political tensions by shelling offshore islands held by Taiwan including Jinmen in what became known as the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. Due to political tensions, the eastern half of Xiamen Island and much of the Fujian Coast facing the offshore islands remained undeveloped in the 1960s and 1970s.

When China began to reform its economy, Xiamen was made one of the original Special Economic Zones in 1980, to attract foreign investment, particularly from overseas Chinese.In 2001, the governments of mainland China and Taiwan agreed to initiate the "Three Mini-Links" and restored ferry, commercial and mail links between the mainland and offshore islands. Trade and travel between Xiamen and Jinmen was restored and later expanded to include direct air travel to Taiwan. In 2010, travelers between Xiamen and Jinmen made 1.31 million trips.

Today Xiamen is seen by Chinese as one of the most livable cities. The air is clean (by Chinese standards) and people there enjoy a relatively high standard of living. It has large swathes of green space and the coastline has been developed for recreation – not only beach play but also long stretches of jogging paths, all of these are rare in Chinese cities.

Xiamen Landscape

The Beautiful Landscape of Xiamen City


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