Wusih, Wu Hsi
Clockwise from top: Yunfu Mansion, Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, Lihu Lake, city canal, Liyuan Gardens
Wuxi is full of warmth and water
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Wuxi (Chinese: 无锡) is a city in southern Jiangsu province, eastern China, 135 kilometres (84 mi) by road northwest of the centre of Shanghai, between Changzhou and Suzhou. In 2017 it had a population of 3,542,319, with 6,553,000 living in the entire prefecture-level city area.
Wuxi is a prominent historical and cultural city of China and has been a thriving economic centre since ancient times, with the production and export of rice, silk and textiles. In the last few decades it has emerged as a major producer of electrical motors, software, solar technology and bicycle parts. The city lies in the southern delta of the Yangtze River and on Lake Tai, which with its 48 islets is popular with tourists. Notable landmarks include Lihu Park, the Mt. Lingshan Grand Buddha Scenic Area and its 88 metres (289 ft) tall Grand Buddha at Ling Shan statue, Xihui Park, Wuxi Zoo and Taihu Lake Amusement Park and the Wuxi Museum.
The city is served by Sunan Shuofang International Airport, which opened in 2004, the Wuxi Metro, opened in 2014, and the Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity High-Speed Railway which connects it to Shanghai. Jiangnan University, a key national university of “Project 211” and centre for scientific research, was originally founded in 1902 but was reconstituted in 2001 with the merger of two other colleges.
Wuxi means "without tin" literally. The name "with tin" (有锡) was once adopted during the short-lived Xin Dynasty. Despite varied tales, many modern Chinese scholars favour the view that the word derived from the "old Yue language" or, supposedly, the old Kra–Dai languages.
The history of Wuxi can be traced back to Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046 BC). The tin industry thrived in the area in ancient times but it was eventually depleted, so that when Wuxi was established in 202 BCE during the Han dynasty, it was named "Wuxi" (Without Tin). Administratively, Wuxi became a district of Biling (later Changzhou) and only during the Yuan dynasty (1206–1368) did it become an independent prefecture. Wuxi and Changzhou are considered to be the birthplace of modern industrialisation in China.
Agriculture and the silk industry flourished in Wuxi and the town became a transportation hub under the early Tang Dynasty after the opening of the Grand Canal in 609. It became known as one of the biggest markets for rice in China.
The Donglin Academy, originally founded during the Song dynasty (960-1279) was restored in Wuxi in 1604. Not a school, it served as a public forum, advocating a Confucian orthodoxy and ethics. Many of its academicians were retired court officials or officials deposed in the 1590s due to factionalism.
As a populous county, its eastern part was separated and resulted in the creation of Jinkui county in 1724. Both Wuxi and Jinkui were utterly devastated by the Taiping Rebellion, which resulted in nearly 2/3 of their population being killed. The depleted number of “able-bodied males” (ding, 丁) was only of 72,053 and 138,008 individuals in 1865, versus 339,549 and 258,934 in 1830.
During the Qing dynasty (1636–1912), cotton and silk production flourished in Wuxi. Trade increased with the opening of ports to Shanghai in 1842, and Zhenjiang and Nanjing in 1858. Wuxi became a centre of the textile industry in China. Textile mills were built in 1894 and silk reeling establishments known as "filatures" were built in 1904. Wuxi was remained the regional center for the waterborne transport of grain. The opening of the railways to Shanghai and to the cities of Zhenjiang and Nanjing to the northwest in 1908 further increased the exports of rice from the area. Jinkui xian merged into Wuxi County with the onset of the Republic in 1912. Many agricultural labourers and merchants moved to Shanghai in the late 19th century and early 20th century to prosper in the new factories.
After World War II, Wuxi's importance as an economic centre diminished, but it remains a regional centre for manufacturing. Tourism has increasingly become important. On April 23, 1949, Wuxi was divided into Wuxi City and Wuxi County, and it became a provincial city in 1953 when Jiangsu Province was founded. In March 1995, several administrative changes were made within Wuxi City and Wuxi County to accommodate for Wuxi New District, with the creation of 19 administrative villages such as Shuofang, Fangqian, Xin’an and Meicun. Jiangnan University was originally founded in 1902, before merging with two other colleges in 2001 to form the modern university.
Wuxi is a regional business hub, with extensive manufacturing and large industrial parks devoted to new industries. Historically a center of textile manufacturing, the city has adopted new industries such as electric motor manufacturing, MRP software development, bicycle and brake manufacturing, and solar technology, with two major photovoltaic companies, Suntech Power and Jetion Holdings Ltd, based in Wuxi. Wuxi Pharma Tech, a major pharmaceutical company, is based in Wuxi The city has a rapidly developing skyline with the opening of three supertall skyscrapers in 2014: Wuxi IFS (339 metres (1,112 ft)), Wuxi Suning Plaza 1 (328 metres (1,076 ft)) and Wuxi Maoye City - Marriott Hotel (303.8 metres (997 ft)).
Since it was established in 1992, Wuxi New District (WND), covering an area of 220 square kilometres (85 sq mi), has evolved to be one of the major industrial parks in China. In 2013, it had a GDP of 121.3 billion yuan ($19.54 billion), and an industrial output value of 276.7 billion yuan, accounting for 15% of production in the Wuxi area. The district includes the Wuxi Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, Wuxi (Taihu) International Technology Park, Wuxi Airport Industrial Park, China (Wuxi) Industrial Expo Park, China Wu Culture Expo Park, and International Education and Living Community.
Hotels in Wuxi include Wuxi Maoye City – Marriott Hotel, Hilton Hotel's Wuxi-Lingshan Double Tree Resort near the Lingshan Giant Buddha, Kempinski Hotel Wuxi, Landison Square Hotel Wuxi, noted for its Wu jade phoenix sculpture in the lobby, Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi, Sheraton Wuxi Binhu Hotel and Wuxi Hubin Hotel.
Wuxi is one of the major art and cultural centers of Jiangnan Province. The city is known for its Huishan clay figurines, which take their name from the black clay of Huishan Mountain. The figurines have been produced for over 400 years since the Ming dynasty, and are typically large-headed dolls puppies, kittens and chickens. The figurines are believed to promote longevity and exorcise evil spirits. Yixing clay teapots are also of note, made from purple, red and green earth, which is said to enhance the tea drinking experience.
The city is served by Jiangnan University, a key national university of “Project 211” and centre for scientific research, which was originally founded in 1902 and established in 1958 as the Wuxi Institute of Light Industry. In 2001 it was reconstituted by the Ministry of Education with the merger of two other colleges to formally establish Jiangnan University. The Taihu University of Wuxi, beside Huishan National Forest Park is a private university and one of the largest in China, covering over 2,000 acres with over 20,000 teachers and students and more than 20 different faculties.
The city lies in the southern Yangtze River delta on Lake Tai, which is the third largest freshwater lake in China, and a rich resource for tourism in the area with cruises. There are 72 peninsulas and peaks and 48 islets, including Yuantouzhu (the Islet of Turtlehead) and Taihu Xiandao (Islands of the Deities).
Wuxi has many private gardens or parks built by learned scholars and illustrious people in the past. Lihu Park in Binhu District was built in 1927 and named after the politician and economist Fan Li. The Star of Taihu Lake is noted for its water Ferris wheel. The gardens contains a long embankment with willow trees and a path beside the lake with numerous small bridges and pavilions. On the southwest bank of the lake at the foot of Junzhang Hill is Changguangxi Wetland Park, a 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) stretch of canal connecting Lihu Lake to the north and Taihu Lake to the south. It contains the Shitang Bridge and a lotus pond. Also in Binhu District is Wuxi Zoo and Taihu Lake Amusement Park, an AAAA national landmark with over a 1000 animals including Asian elephant, leopard, chimpanzee, giant panda and white rhinoceros and an ecology and science exhibition and recreation area.
The 30 hectare (74 acres) Mt. Lingshan Grand Buddha Scenic Area on the southwest tip of Wuxi contains the 88 metres (289 ft) tall Grand Buddha at Ling Shan, the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. The Mt Lingshan area also contains Brahma Palace, Xiangfu Temple, Five Mudra Mandala, Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni (a 7.2 metres (24 ft) statue of Sakyamuni), and numerous other Buddhist sites. Xihui Park, established in 1958 at the foot of Xi Shan to the west of the city, contains Jichang Garden and the Dragon Light Pagoda.
Wuxi Museum was formally opened on October 1, 2008 following a merger of the Wuxi Revolution Museum, Wuxi Museum and Wuxi Science Museum museums. Covering over 71,000 square metres (760,000 sq ft) and an exhibition area of 24,100 square metres (259,000 sq ft) it is the largest public cultural building in Wuxi, with 600,000 visitors annually as of 2019. The museum also administers the Chinese National Industry and Commerce Museum of Wuxi, Chengji Art Museum, Zhou Huaimin Painting Museum, Zhang Wentian Former Residence and Wuxi Ancient Stone Inscriptions Museum. Wuxi Art Museum, known as the Wuxi Painting and Calligraphy Institute before the rename in 2011, was established on December 7, 1979 in Chong’an district. The current facility has a space of 1,135 metres (3,724 ft). Hongshan Archaeological Museum in Wuxi New District opened in 2008 and houses artifacts related to the local Wu culture between 770 and 221 BC. The items, which include miniature jade engravings and objects related to burial and musical customs, were unearthed at Hongshan Tomb Complex in 2004.
The Former Residence of Xue Fucheng at No. 152 Xueqian Street in Chong'an district, is the former home of Zue Fencheng, a noted diplomat of the late Qing dynasty and is open to the public.
Wuxi Sports Center opened in October 1994 and has a capacity of 30,000. It hosts the Wuxi Classic, a snooker event which attracted the biggest names in snooker. Wuxi City Sports Park Stadium hosted the 2017 ITTF Asian-Championships (Ping Pong), and the 2019 World Cup in snooker in June 2019. Major League Baseball has also had its main Chinese recruitement centre in Wuxi since 2009 at Wuxi Development Center at Dongbeitang High School. There Major League Baseball scouts and recruits the best players in China in the hopes that they will eventually play professional baseball in America.
Wuxi is situated on the Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity High-Speed Railway, a 301 kilometres (187 mi) railway which opened on July 1, 2010, linking it directly with the provincial capital of Nanjing, Shanghai and Suzhou. Wuxi Metro began operations in 2014, with two lines totalling 19 miles (31 km) and over 124 miles (200 km) in total expected with new lines opening over the next few decades.Sunan Shuofang International Airport, situated 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from the city centre, opened in 2004, and has direct flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, and Osaka.
Wuxi lies along China National Highway 312 which connects Shanghai to central and northwestern China. The 274 kilometres (170 mi) Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway (G42), which opened in November 1996, connecting it to Shanghai, Suzhou, Changzhou, Zhenjiang and other cities in Jiangsu province. The 62.3 kilometres (38.7 mi) Wuxi-Yixing Expressway connects Wuxi with Yixing within the regional prefecture-level area.