Xiamen is a relatively prosperous small city on the southeast coast
of China across from Taiwan. About two million people live there.
In 2006, a survey named it China’s second most livable city. It has
one of China’s cleanest and most enjoyable living environments. It
benefits from the ocean air and from investment from overseas
Chinese and Taiwanese. It had long been an important port city for
both Chinese empires and foreign empires because the natural harbor
in the city is good and very deep. Though it isn’t a big city in
China, both its port and its airport are among China’s top twelve.
It has a global transportation network and an internationalized
financial system with foreign banks and investment playing an
important role in the economy. The relative prosperity will make
travel in the city more comfortable, and the many historical sites,
some beaches and park areas, and Gulangyu Island that is a
pedestrian only area are the highlights of travel to the city.
The city is composed of two islands called Gulangyu Island and
Xiamen Island, some islets, and a larger region along the Jiulong
River. The city government administers an area of 1,565 square
kilometers that is divided into 6 districts. The two districts on
the islands have the most interesting architecture due to the many
foreign-built buildings, Hulishan Fort, and South Putao Temple. The two islands were foreign enclaves after the British forced
the Chinese to open it as a treaty port in 1843. This is the reason
Xiamen Island and Gulangyu Island have lots of buildings built by
people from around the world.
Not only have foreigners been coming to Xiamen, but people from the
Xiamen area have been moving to other countries for hundreds of
years so that it is said that 400,000 Chinese living overseas are
of Xiamen descent. The Qing Dynasty rulers even tried to prevent
Fujian people from leaving. Now, the overseas Chinese are investing
heavily to build Xiamen’s industries and businesses including a
huge mall called SM Xiamen that has a parking lot for 1,100 cars
that opened in 2001. It was built by a Filipino-Chinese
businessman. Wal Mart has a mega-store in the mall.
Xiamen is an ideal place for holding all sorts of international
conferences and exhibitions. There is an annual tradeshow for
investment and trade called the China International Fair for
Investment and Trade (CIFIT). It is one of the largest in China.
CIFIT is held in Xiamen every September from the 8th to the 11th.
There are a lot of other conferences held, and the government wants
to promote the city as a place for holding international
conferences. Xiamen is working toward the goal of becoming a famous
city for international conferences and exhibitions.
The port became a major seaport in the Song Dynasty. The natural
harbor is deep, and can handle the biggest ships of over 100,000
tons. To defend the island from Japanese, Prince Zhou Dexing
enclosed Xiamen Town with 110 kilometers of heavily fortified wall.
The ancient wall was destroyed in 1928, but you can see remnants in
some places like Xiamen University. This wall was used to keep out
the Japanese, but it could not keep out the Europeans however. They
came as traders initially.
Then, after the Mongols invaded and set up the Qing Dynasty, a
famous person named Koxinga who was born in 1629 in Hirado, Japan
set up a territory in the area outside Qing control. He fought
against the Qing troops and also drove the Dutch from Taiwan. When
he had control, the territory’s name was called Siming that means
“Remember the Ming.
” It is now the name of a district in Xiamen. The Dutch had
colonized Taiwan. So on April 21, 1661, he set sail with tens
thousands of troops (perhaps 25,000), and the Dutch surrendered on
January 27, 1662. He is famous in both China and Taiwan for these
victories. Koxinga died soon after this, and then the Qing Dynasty
took over the Xiamen area.
In 1902, the area had a local government composed of foreigners.
There were foreigners of many countries in the International
Settlement, and fourteen countries had consulates there. In 1939,
the Japanese wanted to invade the area, but couldn’t due to the
presence of foreign troops. In 1941, the Japanese controlled the
In 1980, it became one of China’s first four special economic zones
where foreign investment and international trade was allowed. After
this, the city became prosperous. The city relies heavily on
foreign trade and investment for growth. It is a vital port for
trade with Taiwan and is an important passage for Taiwanese to