Although it’s some 20km inland on the Yong River, Níngbō rose to prominence during the 7th and 8th centuries as a trading port for tea, ceramics and silk. Ships carrying Zhèjiāng’s exports sailed from here to Japan, Korea, the Ryukyu Islands and along the Chinese coast.
By the 16th century, the Portuguese had established a colony in the area north of the Xinjiang Bridge and established themselves as entrepreneurs in the trade between Japan and China, as the Chinese were forbidden to deal directly with the Japanese. During the 18th century, the East India Company also attempted to establish itself in Níngbō, but it wasn’t until 1842, after the First Opium War, that the Treaty of Nanking enabled the British to set up a treaty port and British Consulate.
Soon after, Níngbō’s once-flourishing trade gradually declined as Shànghǎi boomed. By that time the Níngbō traders had taken their money to Shànghǎi and formed the basis of its wealthy Chinese business community.
Today Níngbō is a thoroughly modern port city that lacks the frenzy of most major urban centres in China. It’s a relaxing place to spend the day before heading to the Buddhist island of Pǔtuóshān, one of Zhèjiāng’s premier tourist attractions.
Last updated: Mar 24, 2009
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