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Hankou, China

Updated on January 14, 2012

Hankou is the largest of three Chinese cities (Hankou, Hanyang, and Wuchang) that were united in 1950 to form the city of Wuhan, in Hupei province, at the con­fluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers. Hankou, which extends along the north bank of both rivers, is connected with Hanyang by a road bridge and a rail bridge across the Han. Wu­chang is linked with Hanyang by a bridge completed in 1957 over the Yangtze.

Hankou's central position at the "crossroads of nine provinces," together with its populous, productive hinterland, made it the chief com­mercial and transportation center of the mid-Yangtze Valley. About equally distant between the Yangtze ports of Chungking to the west and Shanghai to the east, Hankou is accessible to large oceangoing ships during the high-water summer months, although its port is 585 miles (935 km) from the sea. The city is also about midway between Peking to the north and Can­ton to the south and is on the rail line connect­ing the two.

The principal industrial city of central China, Hankou manufactures machinery, chemicals, ce­ment, textiles, and processed foods.

History of Hankou

Hankou is the youngest of the Wu­han cities. By the 19th century, after a long period during which it was a neglected fishing village, it had become a trading and garrison town of some importance. Its modern develop­ment dates from 1858, when the Treaty of Tientsin opened it to international trade. From 1861 to 1898, British, Russian, French, German, and Japanese concessions were set up in Hankou along the Yangtze.

After the outbreak of the republican revolu­tion in 1911, Hankou was the scene of heavy fighting, and parts of the city were largely de­stroyed by fire. In 1927-1928 the Wuhan cities were the stronghold of the radical wing of the Kuomintang. Hankou was the capital of China for part of 1937-1938 before its capture by the Japanese during their invasion of China. It suf­fered great damage at that time from Japanese aerial attacks and later from Allied bombing during World War II. Although industry was expanded by the Communists after 1950, Hankou failed to recover its prewar foreign trade.

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