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Wuxi

Wuxi (Wu-shi, Wushi, or Wuish; lit. "Without Tin") is an old city in Jiangsu Province of China. Split into halves by Lake Taihu, Wuxi borders Changzhou to the west and Suzhou to the east. The northern half looks across to Taizhou to the north over the Yangtze River, while the southern half also borders the province of Zhejiang to the south. Wuxi earned its nickname "Pearl of Lake Tai" because it's built on the shore of Lake Tai with beautiful sceneries. Wuxi was also dubbed "little Shanghai" because of its close proximity to the city and its fast urbanization and booming economy.

History

Zhou Dynasty
Wuxi was founded 3,000 years ago by two fugitive princes, Taibo and Zhongyong, of Zhou from northern China, who intended to give their brother "Jili" the throne. The two princes settled down in "meili", which is believed to be today's Meicun of Wuxi (albeit some historic records lead to somewhere in today's Suzhou). They helped developing local agriculture and waterways and soon this area flourished. After the death of Taibo, because Taibo has no son, the emperor of Zhou named a descendant of his family king of kingdom "Wu". The king called his kingdom itself "Gowu". Taibo's shrine was set up in today's Meicun and the original wood structure was destroyed during the wars over the history. It has been renovated several times and today's architecture is mostly from Qing dynasty. A stone carved with Confucius' comment can still be seen in today's Taibo Shrine.

Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period
Wu became one of the strongest kingdoms during the spring and autumn period. Sunzi (Suntzu), who wrote the famous "the Art of War" came to Wu and helped the king in military affairs. Wu was considered one of the seven strongest kingdoms during Spring and Autumn Period . Some of Sunzi's descendants are still living in Sunxiang in Wuxi near the Plum Garden. However, Wu was defeated by Yue (today's Zhejiang and Fujian) later on, which was also defeated by Chu later and Wu became part of Chu during the Warring States Period.

Qin and Han Dynasty
The culture and economy center of the "Wu" area shifted to Suzhou after Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of Qin Dynasty united China and Wuxi belonged to Suzhou back then. During the Han dynasty, Wuxi was set up as a county by the emperor Han Wudi. Historic records showed that tin was discovered during the early Han era, leading to conflicts in the area. Soon, however, the tin was depleted. This is generally believed to be the origin of the name Wuxi, meaning "no tin." Recent scholarship has brought this explanation into doubt, however. It is claimed that "Wu" is one of the auxiliary suffixes common in the local dialect. This is similar to referring to Suzhou as "Gusu" and Wu as "Gowu". The name was changed to Youxi (有錫), meaning "having tin", during the Wang Mang conflicts period because Wang wanted to change the name.

Six dynasties, Tang and Song Dynasties
Agriculture and silk industry flourished in Wuxi especially after the construction of the Grand Canal. Although Suzhou became a bigger center of the Wu area, Wuxi is still important in the county of Wu.

Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties and on
The agriculture (rice and fish as major products) and industry continued to develop and until the early 20th century, Wuxi became a center of the textile industry in China and one of the four most important rice markets nationwide. During the period between 1900 and 1940, Wuxi was considered a most important county in China. That is why in dramatist Cao Yu's famous drama "Thunderstorm" Wuxi was mentioned several times with a comment "Wuxi is a good place". After the PRC was set up by communists in 1949, Wuxi continued to grow in importance, with the establishment of more textile production and both light and heavy industry. This city was considered a second important city in the Jiangsu province just after the capital city Nanjing. However, its developmental model has been criticized for the environmental deterioration it caused. New strategies are demanded by the people to ensure its sustainable development.

Geography
The city plan, as is typical of many older Chinese cities, is of a central city with a roughly circular plan, crisscrossed with older canals, the main canal still seeing heavy barge traffic.

Wuxi itself is on an alluvial plain of deep sedimentary deposits cut between limestone foothills, making it one of the sources for "scholar's rocks", the intricately weathered stones which were used as devices for contemplation.

Wuxi ranges from a very hot summer to a chilly winter, having an average annual temperature of 18 °C, though it seldom sees snow. Because of its proximity to the East China Sea, it has a monsoon season and receives 100 cm of rain annually.

Culture
As an important city for "Wu" area, its culture bears distinctive "wu" characteristics, which can be identified in its dialect, architecture, waterway transportation and various art types.

It was one of the arts and cultural center in "Jiangnan", with several famous Chinese authors claiming Wuxi as their home town. Among them, most recently, Qian Zhongshu, author of Fortress Besieged, a comedy of manners set in China in the 1930s.

One of the handicraft specialties of Wuxi is the production of Huishan clay figurines.

In modern times Wuxi has produced a number of cultural figures such as Hua Yanjun (1893-1950) also known as "Blind Abing" (瞎子阿炳), famous for his erhu and pipa music. Another famous musician is Liu Tianhua, who was the first to compile folk music using staff.

As for cuisine, Wuxi is famous for its Wuxi-style spareribs, sweetened pork dumplings and fried gluten.

Folklore
The nine peaks of Huishan, in Xihui Park on the western outskirts of Wuxi, are said to be the sleeping sons of the legendary Dragon King.

The wittiness of Wuxi natives is legendary. A popular joke is that "they can sell you meat that is really bones and they sell you dumplings that are just air inside", i.e. Wuxi pork ribs and Wuxi fried tofu dumplings, which are hollow. Some consider this trait untrustworthy.

One of the most famous folklores is about the Wuxi traditional pork ribs. It was said that the ribs were created by a peasant Lu Xiaosheng. His wife was ill but he was poor. One day she wanted to eat pork. Lu went to buy some ribs and cooked with wrapping in a "Po Gao Jian" (lit. damaged haulm cushion). Amazingly the taste of ribs was so good that his wife immediately recovered from the illness. Folks say that the cushion was used by a beggar who happened to be a god. Lu then began to sell the pork ribs, and became rich and famous for the brand "Old Lu's Gao Jian".

Tourism
Nanchan Temple and PagodaWuxi is a major tourist spot in the Lower Yangtze Delta. It has both natural and man-made places of interest.

Lake Tai: The city was built on its shore. Naturally the lake is a rich tourism resource. Famous spots include Yuantou Zhu (the Islet of Turtlehead), Taihu Xiandao (Islands of the Deities).

Xi Shan, Huishan: Literally means "Mountain of Tin" and "Mountain of Kindheartedness". They are two small hills located at the western part of the city. The classic royal Ji-chang-yuan Gardens are located at the hill foot area as well as the very famous Tian-xia-di-er-quan Spring (lit. second best spring).NOTE: Please distinguish that Xi Shan is also a name for a more attractive tourist spot located in Suzhou. Because two independent Chinese characters are both pronounced "Xi": one stands for "West", the other (in this case) is for the metal material tin.

The Grand Canal: It passes the city. There are two canals: one is the old canal that has been there ever since it was excavated, the other is the new canal created after 1949.

Wuxi is famous for the many private gardens or parks built by learned scholars and rich people in the past. Among them, Li Yuan, Mei Yuan are good examples that have been well preserved. Xihui Gongyuan (Xihui Park), located at the foot of Xi Shan also houses historical relics, notably Jichang Garden. It is about 1770 km long.

Grand Buddha at Ling Shan: Located at the south of the Longshan Mountain, near Mashan town of Wuxi, the 88 metres Grand Buddha is one of the largest Buddha statues in China, and it is the ninth tallest statue worldwide.

Huishan ancient town: Built during 16th - 19th A.D., the town is located at the north-west part of Wuxi, west bank of Grand Canal, at the foot of Huishan. The town's buildings are mainly families ancestral halls.

Movie&TV Base: Located in the west of Wuxi, it consists of Wuxi Three State City Park, Tang City, and Shuihu City. Established in 1987,and it is the first Movie and TV base for shooting.

Ferris wheel: Completed in 2008, Wuxi Ferris Wheel is 115-meter high. It takes 18 minutes to complete a circle. There are some other recreation facilities. Sitting in the Ferris wheel, tourists can enjoy beautiful scenery of Lake Tai and the city center. At night, lighting effects make the wheel more attractive.

Shan Juan Cave: Located in Yixing (a region belongs to Wuxi), it is one of the 4-starts scenic zones. Chinese Romeo and Juliet, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai were said to study behind the cave.

Other Historical Places: Former Residence of Xue Fucheng, Former Residence of A Bin, Former Residence of Xu Xiake, Site of Luotuo Dun, Taibo Temple and Taibo Tomb, and Donglin Shuyuan, etc. These historical places are well protected by the city government.
Wuxi Museum

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