"Guangzhou" China Favorite Tip by traveldave
China General: 367 reviews and 336 photos
Favorite thing: Formerly called Canton, Guangzhou is the capital and largest city of Guangdong Province, with about 10,000,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area.
Guangzhou was first settled sometime during the Qing Dynasty. Located north of the Pearl River Delta, the city became a center of trade and commerce. Merchants from India and Rome came as early as the second century, and 500 years later Arabs established trade routes with the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The Portuguese came to Guangzhou in the tenth century looking for porcelains and silks. The Chinese government allowed the Portuguese to establish Macau downriver from Guangzhou. China itself still remained off limits to foreigners.
China opened its doors to foreign trade in 1625 after pressure from the British. However, in 1757, all foreign trade was restricted to Guangzhou, and the Co Hong, a merchants guild, was given exclusive rights to trade with the foreigners. This resulted in a balance of trade which was heavily in China's favor.
In 1773 the British shifted the balance of trade by importing opium into Guangzhou. The Chinese government tried to put a stop to the importation of opium, which resulted in the first Opium War. The war ended with the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.
In addition to international movements which contributed to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Sun Yatsen headquartered the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) in Guangzhou to fight the northern warlords. The city was also a major center for the fledgling Communist Party.
Ever since China opened up to foreign investment, most of which flows through nearby Hong Kong, Guangdong Province has benefitted economically more than any other province in the country, and Guangzhou is one of China's biggest boom towns.
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