Ningbo Travel Guide

History

Ningbo is one of China's oldest cities, with a history dating back to the Hemudu culture in 4800 BC . Once known as Mingzhou (明州), Ningbo was known as a trade city on the silk road at least two thousand years ago, and then as a major port, along with Yangzhou and Guangzhou in the Tang Dynasty; thereafter, the major ports for foreign trade in the Song Dynasty.

Tang and Song dynasty

Since the Tang dynasty Ningbo was an important commercial port. Arab traders lived in Ningbo during the Song dynasty when it was known as Mingzhou, because the ocean-going trade passages took precedence over land trade during this time. Another name for Mingzhou/Ningbo was Siming. It was a well known center of ocean-going commerce with the foreign world. These merchants did not intermingle with native Chinese, practicing their own customs and religion and they inhabited ghettos. They did not try to proselytize Islam to Chinese.

Jews also lived in Ningbo, as evidenced by the fact that, after a major flood destroyed Torah scrolls in Kaifeng, a replacement was sent to the Kaifeng Jews by the Ningbo Jewish community.

Ming Dynasty

The city of Ningbo was known in Europe for a long time under the name of Liampó. This is the usual spelling used e.g. in the standard Portuguese history, João de Barros's Décadas da Ásia, although Barros explained that Liampó was a Portuguese "corruption" of the more correct Nimpó. The spelling Liampó is also attested in the Peregrination (Peregrinação) by Fernão Mendes Pinto, a (so-called) autobiography written in Portuguese during 16th century. For the mid-16th-century Portuguese, the nearby promontory, which they called the cape of Liampó, after the nearby "illustrious city" was the easternmost known point of the mainland Asia. The Portuguese began trading in Ningbo around 1522. By 1542, the Portuguese had a sizable community in Ningbo (or, more likely, on nearby small islands). Portuguese activities from their Ningbo base included pillaging and attacking multiple Chinese port cities around Ningbo for plunder and spoil. They also enslaved people during their raids. In 1542 the Portuguese settled here by permission and flourished, but their rapacity led to their expulsion in 1545. After the Portuguese obtaining a trade mission in Ningbo using coercion and bribe, in retaliation, the Ming forces in 1545 exterminated the entire Portuguese community of Ningbo in the Ningbo Massacre (1542). A force of 60,000 Chinese troops descended on the community, 800 of the 1,200 Portuguese residents were massacred, and 25 Portuguese vessels and 42 junks were destroyed.

Qing dynasty

Ningbo was one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanjing (signed in 1842) at the end of the First Opium War between Britain and China. During the war, British forces took possession of the walled city of Ningbo briefly after storming the fortified town of Zhenhai at the mouth of the Yong River on October 10, 1841. The British repulsed a Chinese attempt to retake the city in the Battle of Ningpo on March 10, 1842. In 1864, the forces of the Taiping Rebellion held the town for six months. In March 1885, during the Sino-French War, Admiral Courbet's naval squadron blockaded several Chinese warships in Zhenhai Bay and exchanged fire with the shore defences. Ningbo was also once famed for traditional Chinese furniture production.

During the Qing dynasty, western encyclopedias described Ningbo as a center of craftsmanship and industry.

During the late Qing dynasty, in the 1800s, the Ningbo authorities contracted Cantonese pirates to exterminate and massacre Portuguese pirates who raided Cantonese shipping around Ningbo. The massacre was "successful", with 40 Portuguese dead and only 2 Chinese dead, being dubbed "The Ningpo Massacre" by an English correspondent, who noted that the Portuguese pirates had behaved savagely towards the Chinese, and that the Portuguese authorities at Macau should have reined in the pirates.

During late Qing era, Western missionaries set up a Presbyterian Church in Ningbo. Li Veng-eing was a Reverend of the Ningpo Church. The Ningpo College was mangaged by Rev. Robert F. Fitch. The four trustees were natives of Ningbo, three of them had Taotai rank. Rev. George Evans Moule, B. A. was appointed a missionary to China by the Church of England Missionary Society, and arrived at Ningpo with Mrs. Moule in February, 1858. He then commenced a mission station at Hang-chow, between which and Ningpo his time had been chiefly divided. He wrote Christian publications in the Ningbo dialect.

Republican Era

During World War II in 1940, Japan bombed Ningbo with ceramic bombs full of fleas carrying the bubonic plague. According to Daniel Barenblatt, Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda received, with Prince Mikasa, a special screening by Shiro Ishii of a film showing imperial planes loading germ bombs for bubonic dissemination over Ningbo in 1940.

"It has been said of the Ningbo fishermen that, 'no people in the world apparently made so great an advance in the art of fishing; and for centuries past no people have made so little further progress.'"

source: Wikipedia

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