Yangjiang is a prefecture-level city situated on the coast of southwestern Guangdong Province. As a prefecture-level city, Yangjiang comprises much more territory beyond simply the city proper of Yangjiang: the prefecture, with the city of Yangjiang as its seat, stretches from Maoming in the west-southwest to Jiangmen in the east-northeast, and from Yunfu in the north to the South China Sea in the south. Yangjiang also comprises some 30 islands, the most prominent of which is Hailing Island, a major tourist attraction in itself. The city's close proximity to Hong Kong and Macau, its mild, South China Sea climate and its many tourist resources - not least of which are its sandy beaches as well as its many other natural attractions such as mountain peaks, mountain streams, waterfalls, limestone caverns, hot springs, lakes and rolling hills - make Yangjiang a popular getaway for foreign and domestic tourists alike.
A Brief History
The area of present-day Yangjiang has an early Neolithic prehistory that is not unlike that of the surrounding area, where early humanoid remains have been found throughout Guangdong Province, which, at the time, was also one of the homes of the Asian elephant, though the only remaining native Asian elephants to be found in China today are in Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve in Yunnan Province. Guangdong Province's coastal cities were natural ports that were used by Chinese seafarers and others, such as Indians, who used the sea as a less treacherous travel route than the typical overland route, which involved traversing high mountains, including the Himalayas.
Southbound seafarers made replenishment calls to Guangdong's ports often as a last safe southern harbor before rounding the Indochina Peninsula. It is now believed that this traffic was widespread - and in both directions, i.e., both to and from China - as early as the 3rd century BCE, and that it included many trade items belonging to the famous Silk Road trade era that would much later be ascribed to the same sea route. For example, a recently opened Warring States (BCE 475-221) Period tomb was found to contain items such as glass bowls, ivory figurines, necklaces made of crystals, and basins made of silver that reflect the Persian style of the period.
The new theory thus challenges the notion that the "Marine Silk Road" first began after the decline of the overland Silk Road routes during the post Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty era (and which overland traffic had all but died out by the time of the Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty, due to conflicts between the Tibetan-Buddhist Mongols of the Yuan Dynasty and the encroaching Muslims, who demanded ever higher "fees" for crossing territories held by them), insisting that there had existed a parallel "Silk Road" route by sea from the outset of the trade in silk, porcelain and other exotic products from China, and the trade in products made of crystal, glass, ivory and silver coming from Persia.
No one can deny, however, that the "Marine Silk Road" came to dominate during the period beginning with the Yuan Dynasty, though this trade was severely limited during the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty as a result of the Ming government's isolationist policies (the latter-period Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty would also have its share of problems with foreign trade, resulting in the loss of Chinese territory (the so-called Concessions to foreign powers such as Hong Kong, Macau, Qingdao, etc.)). A "Marine Silk Road" ship dating from the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty, the Nanhai No. 1 (Nanhai is Chinese for "South China Sea"), was recently salvaged from a depth of 20 meters about 30 nautical miles west of Hailing Island.
By the time of the Qin (BCE 221-206) Dynasty, the greater area of Yangjiang-Maoming-Enping was made into a county, Nanhai County. Nanhai County would be renamed Gaoliang County during the Han (BCE 206 - CE 221) Dynasty. By the end of the Han Dynasty, the area corresponding to Yangjinang would be separated out into Anning County which, during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (CE 420-588) Period would become Yangjiang County, albeit, under the auspices of the city of Gaozhou, located slightly north of present-day Maoming.
Over the next several hundred years, this fishing village would retain its name as Yangjiang County, but the village itself would be given the name Enzhou in CE 1368, which marks the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. The sleepy fishing village would continue to be called Enzhou up until 1988, when the growing metropolis had shed its village origins and had finally become a proper city, at which year the village of Enzhou was renamed the city of Yangjiang.
The modern city of Yangjiang, due partly to the fact that it represents a natural tourist resource and partly due to the fact that there are plenty of other cities in the region that fulfill the country's need for heavy industry, is founded on two pillars: tourism and light industry. The latter is seen as a necessary corollary to the former, especially since heavy industry could compromise the quality of the city as a seaside resort. In addition, the city of Yangjiang remains a fishing "village", with 6 fishing harbors, and has a well-developed agricultural sector that provides most of the produce on sale in Yangjiang's markets.
Some of the light industry highlights that put Yangjiang on the map, as it were - either within China or on the global level - are the following:
* Yangdong Company, a producer of consumer-oriented puddings, is not only China's largest, but the largest such manufacturer in all of Southeast Asia,
* Yangjiang Knife Company, with a hundred-year history, manufactures the famous Shibazi stainless steel cutlery series, as well as several other renowned stainless steel cutlery series such as the Happy Kitchen, Shengda, Silvery Eagle and Three People cutlery series. The Shibazi cutlery series has won Chinese achievement awards, and is a major export item for the company. Yangjiang Knife Company is China's largest manufacturer of stainless steel cutlery, and
* Yangjiang Kite Company has a history of more than 1300 years, with employees whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, etc., all worked at the kite factory. The company's popular Ganoderma Lucidum kite won the 1990 international award as one of the 10 best kites in the world, based on aerodynamic design, artistic decoration, and durability. In recognition of its longstanding manufacturing excellence, the Yangjiang Kite Company was awarded the Chinese title of "The Hometown of Kites" in 1993 by the government of the PRC.
Other consumer products that have helped to make the city of Yangjiang a household name in China are Yangjiang lacquer and Yangjiang lobster sauce.
Yangjiang's main tourist attractions include: Hailing Island, including Dajiao Bay; Yangchun Spring Bay; Lingxiao Cave in Chunwan; Yangjiang's 7.4 kilometer long Silver Beach, which is registered in the Shanghai Branch of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest beach; Jinsha Beach; Horse Tail Island; Dongyue Park; Forest Park; Mandarin Duck Lake Park; North Lake Park; Linggu Temple; Shijue Temple; the Cemetery of Song Tiafu; and the city's own famous museum, the Marine Silk Road Museum, which now houses the salvaged remains - and booty - of the Nanhai No. 1 (to learn more about the Marine Silk Road Museum, click here, and to access the page to the prefecture's other major tourist attractions, click here).
Yangjiang is also a popular venue for sports events such as beach volleyball (eg., Yangjiang hosted China's 9th National Beach Volleyball Match), kite flying and hot air balooning. The city annually holds the Men's National Indoor Volleyball Tournement, the National Hot-Air Balloon Championship, an International Kite-Flying Festival, and the Asian Beach Volleyball Championship.