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Stories reflecting China’s early industrial development

Author  :  SUN HAIYAN     Source  :    China Reading Weekly     2020-04-22

Stories of Chinese Industrial Heritage

Edited by Liu Boying and Zhou Daya

Nanjing Press

October 2019

Compared to other forms of heritage, industrial heritage is a fairly young form which emerged with the rise of the first industrial revolution in the 1860s. In recent years, industrial heritage and industrial culture have received increasing attention in China. Many relevant professional research institutions have been established, with a number of high-quality research results being published. The lists of protection of industrial heritage have also been announced. For example, the China Industrial Heritage Protection List (First Batch) was issued in January of 2018, and the China Industrial Heritage Protection List (Second Batch) was issued in April of 2019, each including 100 industrial units respectively.

As a set of popular readings, the first series of Stories of Chinese Industrial Heritage selects 8 important sites of industrial heritage, including the Jinling Machine Manufacturing Bureau, Kailuan Coal Mine, Chongqing Iron and Steel Company, Qiantang River Bridge, Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Tianjin Soda Plant, Dah Sun Cotton Mill and Beijing Banknote Printing Plant, and tells of their origins, development processes, current situations and future trends.

The first series covers representative industrial heritage that ranges from the beginnings of China’s industrial development to the 1960s. For example, the Jinling Machine Manufacturing Bureau is known as “the cradle of the Chinese national military industry,” and has landmark significance in the development history of the Self-Strengthening Movement. The Dah Sun Cotton Mill founded by Zhang Jian was the beginning of the construction of the first modern city in China—Nantong. To this day, it is still an important part of the Nantong textile industry. The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge built in the 1960s, is called the “Zhengqi Bridge,” which literally means “trying to win credit for the Chinese people.” This name reflected the difficulty of independent infrastructure construction at the time and the spirit of continuous improvement of the Chinese nation. The bridge is still an iconic work of the Chinese transportation industry.

This set of books contains strong patriotic and humanistic notes. From the beginning of the Self-Strengthening Movement in the 1860s to the launch of the First Five-Year Plan with a focus on heavy industry in 1953, the century-long development of China’s modern industry has undergone a very tough journey. Without the hard work and patriotism of several generations of industrialists, intellectuals and skillful workers, it would have been impossible for China to achieve today’s industrial achievements. In The Story of the Tianjin Soda Plant, Fan Xudong (1883–1945) and Hou Debang (1890–1974) overcame challenges posed by insufficient funds, foreign technology blockades and wars at that time and developed the Red Triangle brand soda. Hou’s advanced process for soda production has left a strong mark in the history of the chemical industry in China and even the world.



(Edited and translated by Yang Lanlan)


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