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Wuxi History


Wuxi, located between Taihu Lake in the south and Yangtze River in the north, Wuxi neighbors Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. There is a river flowing through Wuxi city, which was known as Lingqing Brook in ancient times. It originated from Huishan in Wuxi and flowed into the Grand Canal on the north. Liangxi River is 5,500 meters long in total and is a vital river system connecting ancient canal, new canal, Tai Lake and Li lake. The watercourse flows from the East to West. Liangxi is another name of Wuxi in ancient times, Liangxi River bears the weight of the development of people's long history.

The history of Wuxi can be dated back over 3,000 years. In the 12th century B.C., Tai Bo and Ji Chang, sons of the leader of a tribe called "Zhou" in the area of Shaanxi, moved to Meili ( the area of today's Meicun village, in east Wuxi ) to avoid fighting against their bigger brother for the throne.

At that time, Meili was still wild and savage. Only some uncivilized natives lived there. Tai Bo and Zhong Yong taught them advanced farming and silkworm mulberry technology, which became the foundation of the construction of Jiangnan. Their leadership received locals' respect and support and finally turned into a big nationality called "Gou Wu". Confucius even considered Tai Bo a figure of the highest virtue.

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At the time when the state Wu was officially founded, it was popular to take a national name as a surname. Therefore, Wu is the most indigenous surname in Wuxi. Nowadays, some locals joke that only residents whose surname is Wu are real natives. The people from the area became known as Wu and became an extremely powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period . The definitive work on military strategies and tactics "The Art of War" was written during the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu: some of Sun Tzu's descendants still live near the Plum Garden.

Since then, there are various wars and skirmishes Wuxi and the surrounding areas were lost to various other tribes & kingdoms until the Han Dynasty when tin was discovered in nearby hills and Gaozu set the area up as a county. At this time, the settlement's name was changed to Youxi (with tin) which it was called for several hundred years until the metal ran out, and the name was changed to Wuxi (without tin). Agriculture and the silk industry flourished in Wuxi, suggesting the tin deposits used in bronze metallurgy were already played out by that time. The building in the 7th century of the Imperial Grand Canal that passed through the town spurred a revival of its fortunes as a transport center for agricultural products from the surrounding countryside. Rice and fish became major exports of the region. Cotton mills, flour mills and silkworm cocoon plants were set up during this time. 

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Wuxin became a prosperous cultural center until Ming Dynasty and was a center for political discussion and public opinion during the late Ming and early Qing dynasty periods. During the late 19th century, Wuxi became a center of the textile industry in China and one of the four most important rice markets nationwide. By 1878, Wuxi was the leading silk-producing county in Jiangsu, outstripping even Suzhou, the traditional center of that industry. In the late 19th century, Wuxi was also the regional center for the waterborne transport of grain and a major commercial center.

From 1978 onwards, Wuxi farmers have set up a ''township enterprise'' in the area, and foreign investment has flowed into the city to ensure its place as one of the Top 15 key economic centers in China.

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