Rising to the occasion

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 2011, 12:00am


Wuhan is the largest city in central China, covering an area of 8,498 square kilometres with a population of 9.79 million. It was created in 1927 by combining three nearby cities (Wuchang, Hankou and Hanyang), when the Nationalist government relocated its capital there from Guangzhou.

It is best known in modern Chinese history as the place for the Wuchang Uprising in October 1911 which led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising, and the Wuhan Tourism Bureau is hosting a series of activities to celebrate.

Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Wuhan has become an important industrial centre, especially in the manufacture of iron and steel and cars. The Wuhan Iron & Steel Group and Dongfeng Motor are among the largest enterprises in the country. Last year, the city's GPD rose 14.7 per cent to 556.6 billion yuan (HK$691 billion). The strong growth continues this year with its GDP rising another 12.4 per cent in the first six months to 322.16 billion yuan.

Wuhan, a treaty port during the 1856-1860 Opium War and one of early cities opened to the outside world in the 1980s, has been a hot spot for foreign investment, especially from the United States and France. In the first half of this year foreign investment jumped 54 per cent to US$707.63 million, with contractual foreign investment averaging US$15.18 million.

Many of the foreign investments are located in the city's industrial zones. These include the East Lake Hi-Tech Development Zone (Optical Valley of China), the Economical and Technological Development Zone, the Export Process Zone and the Optical Valley Software Park.

Strategically located at the intersection of the Yangtze River and Hanshui River, Wuhan is connected to the rest of the country by waterway, air and land transport networks. The transport network has been enhanced with the launch in December 2009 of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed train, which covers the 1,069km journey in about three hours.

Wuhan is the scientific and educational centre of central China, with eight national colleges and universities and 35 higher education institutions. The city had 1.04 million university students in 2009, making it the first mainland city to have more than 1 million university students.

Wuhan has produced 10 Olympic gold medallists since 1984, in diving, table tennis, badminton, and tennis, including Fu Mingxia, who took diving golds in 1992, 1996 and 2002. It is also home to Li Na, the reigning French Open women's tennis champion. She was named Wuhan's meritorious citizen last month.