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Wenzhou, a city of vitality

Updated : 2020-04-22

The city, boasting thousands of years of trading experience, is one of China's growth engines.

Wenzhou, a major city in Zhejiang province, has won national fame in recent years for its booming private investment and asset expansion as well as its fast economic growth.

With a history dating back to the Kingdom of Dong'ou more than 2,200 years ago, Wenzhou, previously known as Bailu, or White Deer, began its rise to economic prominence in the early 1980s. Before then, the city, located in the southeastern coastal region, was little more than a market town with a flourishing agriculture and cottage industry.

About 5,000 years ago, a troop of the ancient Yue people moved from the north and settled on the sloping fields, with hills behind and the sea in front, at the middle and lower reaches between the Oujiang and Feiyun rivers. Their life consisted of fishing, hunting and primitive farming through successive generations.Those Yue people were the original founders of Wenzhou, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Dong'ou in 192 BC, later becoming Yongjia Prefecture in AD 323.

Legend has it that a white deer holding a flower in its mouth passed as the city was being built. In AD 675, the settlement beganto be called Wenzhou. Historically, it was a city renowned for its handicrafts and also as one of the birthplaces of the Celadon variety of ceramics. Wenzhou's skill in papermaking, silks, embroidery, lacquer work, and shoes and leather products was renowned throughout the country.

The city, which at that time covered 11,784 square meters, with a population of 9.1 million, was largely rural before the reforms and opening-up in 1978 when only 10 percent of the population held urban household registration cards, known as hukou. When China began its economic reforms in 1978, Wenzhou was the first city in the country to establish individual and private enterprises in addition to a shareholding cooperative economy. In the early days of the reforms, the people of Wenzhou took the lead in developing a commodity-based economy, household industries and specialized markets. Many thousands of people were engaged in household manufacturing to develop this individual and private economy.

At the beginning of the 20th century, this coastal city became home to a number of foreign businessmen. The introduction of the many foreign commodities that accompanied this cultural influx stimulated the development of the city's commodity economy and also made an impact on the people who dwelt there.

According to updated official figures, the city's GDP in 2019 was more than 660.6 billion yuan ($93.27 billion), 8.2 percent higher than the previous year. The total value of fixed assets also increased by 10.3 percent.