Taicang, or “Great Granary” in Mandarin, is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Suzhou Prefecture City. During the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 A.D.), the Kingdom Wu began to build a granaries on the land, which was called Taicang later, in order to store grain or rice. This initiated the small town’s booming economy and improved its transportation in later years. In Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 A.D.), the ancient town was further expanded into not just a civil community but also a military base, in which the local municipal authority built moats, town walls and streets.
A port under Taicang’s jurisdiction, Liujia Port, was once honored as the “No. 1 Port in the World” in the Yuan Dynasty and it was where Zheng He began his voyages adventures. These abundant storages, excellent harbor, and advanced technologies in ship manufacture all helped Zheng He’s later explorations.
As a newly shaped industrial city, Taicang has been listed in the front of the 100 Top Chinese Cities for its comprehensive economic capability for three years in a row, with its booming economy and elegant municipal landscapes.
Taicang was the place where the well-known explorer, Zheng He, started his great voyage explorations between 1405-1433, and is the birthplace for many notable artists, scientists, writers, etc, in its history or in the modern society.
Under the jurisdiction of Suzhou, Taicang is comprised of 7 towns and an economic development zone. The municipal government is stationed in the Chengxiang Township.The city's physical size of the land is near 823 square kilometers and the water surface area 285 square kilometers including 174 square kilometers for Yangtze River water surface area. Its population is close to a half million.
Geography, Resources and Climate
Taicang City is located in the South Jiangsu Plain and on the southern bank of Yangtze River, close to the mouth of the river. The city borders Baoshan and Jiading Districts of Shanghai on south, Kunshan City on west and Changshu City on north.
The most important natural resources is freshwater, which occupies 30 per cent of its land mass of Taicang including more than half of the area belonging to Yangtze River surface.
The city is under the influence of the East Asia Monsoon, like its neighbor cities of Suzhou and Shanghai. It has a mild and humid climate and seasons are distinct. The average annual temperature is close to 15oC and the normal precipitation exceeds 1,000 mm yearly. Meiyu Season generally starts in the middle of June and lasts for about 3 to 4 weeks, during which the city experiences a period of mild rain but dampness.
Economy, Industry and Environment
Traditionally Taicang was an agricultural land and its farming earning was the principal income of the city. The main agricultural products include rice, cotton, oil seed, livestock, and aquatic produces. In the past two decades, the city’s annual revenue from agricultural sector has been steadily shrinking and in 2006 it only occupied 6.6% of the city’s GDP.
The profound financial investment in the Yangtze River Delta has also enhances Taicang’s rapid economic expansion and industrialization. Over years, the city’ industrial income increase 15-24% each year. There are near 1,000 of new investment projects pulled in from German, US, UK and Taiwen in the past three years. The city has became one of the most well developed county-level cities in China, with its GDP frequently ranked among the top 10 counties in China. From 2001, Taicang has been ranked on the list of China’s Top 100 Counties (county-level cities) till now.
Taicang Economic Development Zone (TCEDA) was established in 1991, covering an area of 80 square kilometers. It takes about 45 min by driving to the downtown of Shanghai. There is only 20 km between the zone and the Taicang Port. After its establishment, the economic zone has accepted more than 1,000 investment projects including more than 100 projects from German. TCEDA has become one of the most centralized regions for German companies all over China, including machinery, automobile parts and electronics.
Economic growth and environmental conservation have always seemed like two different approaches. Many investment projects along Yangtze River have become substantial in environment pollution. The local government has been putting stiff environmental policies into practice and has spent massive funds over years to protect its environment. The city’s forest coverage rate is 14 per cent of its total land.
Transportation and Tourism
Taicang is 50 km away from both Suzhou and Shanghai metropolises, and the driving times to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and Shanghai Pudong Airport are one and a half hours, respectively. Taicang has a convenient road transportation network including highway/expressway and railway. The expressways that are still under construction are Ningtai (Nanjing-Taicang), Sukuntai (Suzhou-Kunshan-Taicang) and Xitai (Wuxi-Taicang) expressways.
Taicang Port owns 38.8 km of Yangtze bank and is one of prestigious river port along the river. The port has set up 14 national and international lines for cargo transport.
Taicang has many tourist destinations to visit, including Zheng He Memorial Hall, Taicang Museum, Tianfei Palace, and a couple of bridges built in the Yuan Dynasty.
Located in the Liuhe Township, Mingde Girl School was established by Mr. Wu Zhongyi, the father of the famous Chinese American physicist, Chien-Shiung Wu. The school was destroyed during the Chinese civil war in 1924 but was rebuilt later on its original address. The original name was abandoned in the later 40 years after the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 but was restored again in 1983. The school was honored as the Provincial Experimental Primary School in 2004.
Culture and Folklore
As a great ancient port city, Taicang became a critical port during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 A.D.)
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