The Culture Mandala, Vol. 3 no. 2, August 1999, pp51-75 Copyright © R. James Ferguson 1999

Regions and Developments in China:

Suzhou:

A Cultural and Economic Centre of 'Southern' China

by R. James Ferguson(1)

Introduction

Beijing has the heavenly world of government, Shanghai the earthy world of commerce, but in between stands Suzhou, a regional centre with an excellent balance of business and cultural life. This, of course, is a paraphrase of the famous saying: 'Up in heaven there is paradise, down below, Suzhou and Hangzhou.'(2) The idiom is well known to the inhabitants of Suzhou (formerly transliterated as 'Soochow'), which remains a prosperous, thriving city. It retains much of its ancient character, while at the same time being engaged in modern reform and industrial development. Suzhou stands as an example of a large number of Chinese cities where the modern reforms of China are taking place and will succeed, fail, or be adapted to local needs. This second tier of regional cities are not as well known as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Guangzhou (Canton). Yet cities such as Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanking, Qufu, Jinan, Harbin, Fuzhou, Wuhan and Xian are all distinctive urban and administrative centres with their own special regional flavour, unique histories, and special opportunities for cultural and economic activities. Yet outside China, some of these cities are often little more than names, buried within the general impression created by an economically reinvigorated China. 

Suzhou Region(3)

 Suzhou is one of these important regional cities, with an urban population of over 880,000 and serving an administrative region including 3 urban districts, one suburban district, 3 countries and 165 townships and towns embracing a total of over 5.7 million people.(4) The city is located in the lower Yangtze (Chang Jiang) valley, in Jiangsu province, and forms one hub in an extended communication network of roads, railways and canals. It is situated not far (73 km) from Shanghai International Airport, and close (36 km) to Shuo Fang airport in the west.(5) Not far away is Zhang Jia Gang Port on the Yangtze river, providing a number of heavy births for mass shipment of goods.(6) This port has extensive facilities and in freight volume is the largest river port in China and the sixth largest of all ports in China.(7) Other developments include the upgrading of Liujiagang, Qiyakou and Xupu ports.(8) Though now viewed as geographically part of central-east China, historically Suzhou was regarded as part of the southern cultural complex which differed in many respects from the social life of the northern capital.

Around the city of Suzhou there are rich rice fields, and the Yangtze delta as a whole boasts a strong agricultural sector, including silk and cotton production. Aside from traditional textile industries, the region is now a major centre for new industries with substantial foreign investment.(9) The ancient core of urban Suzhou is flanked by two industrial parks, a Sino-Singaporean project known as the Suzhou Industrial Park in the east, and the Suzhou New District in the west. International tourism is not yet fully developed, though the city boasts several international hotels, including the Suzhou Hotel, the Sheraton Suzhou Hotel and Towers, the Gloria Plaza Hotel, as well as a large number of more modest but friendly establishments such as the Dongwu Hotel. To the west, Lake Taihu has developed a large integrated system of resorts,(10) designed for Chinese and overseas visitors. The entire region is a locus for Chinese and regional visitors, to whom the many scenic areas in and around the city are well known.(11) In a brief article it is possible to do no more than overview the history and contemporary the life of this famous city, briefly mention some of its achievements in art and literature, and summarise its economic prospects. Suzhou, though in some ways a unique case, also shares many of the opportunities and challenges experienced by a number of regional cities in modern China.

An Enduring Urban History

The early Kingdom of Wu (sometimes called Gou-wu) is mentioned in Chinese annals from the 7th century B.C. onwards, and was at first viewed as a proto-Chinese state (12) on the southern side of the main cultural area of the early central Chinese domains of the Spring and Autumn period. Suzhou itself was founded as the Wu capital in the 6th century B.C. by the order of King He Lü, who is supposedly buried at the nearby Tiger Hill, his tomb lying under the deep crevice of the sword pond.(13) He Lü's prime minister, Wu Zixu, was ordered to built an influential capital, and after divinations and inspection of water and soil conditions, a site was chosen and the city completed in 508 B.C.(14)

The early history of the region has been well-summarised by Leo Moser: - 

The kingdom of Wu absorbed some aspects of evolving Sinitic culture as early as the Zhou dynasty. Soon its kings, who resided near present-day Suzhou, were claiming a relationship to the royal house of the Zhou. Chinese customs and language were beginning to have some impact on the Wu court as well. During the Spring and Autumn period (722-418 B.C.), Wu had become one of the larger outer states to the south of the so-called inner states (the zhong guo). This made it a competitor of the kingdom of Chu, to its west. For a short time during this period, the kings of Wu, although outsiders, had managed to establish a degree of hegemony over much of the entire Chinese system of states. In 473 B.C., however, Wu was attacked by its southern neighbour, Yue, a state that may well have spoken a language much the same as that native to Wu, although Yue was not as sinicized. Wu fell to the Yue onslaught.

The territory that had been Wu, was, in turn, taken from the Yue by Chu forces. Still later, like the rest of the Chu domains, the Wu lands were incorporated into the short-lived Qin empire of Qin Shi Huang. For the first time, Wu territory was fully subordinated within the Sinitic political world. From the Qin, it was passed to the Han dynasty.

During the Han, the Wu area was rather completely sinicized, and the older non-Sinitic language seems to have been largely replaced.(15)

After this time, Wu was the name of one of the Three Kingdoms which competed for pre-eminence, though this kingdom, with its capital at Nanjing, comprised a much larger territory than the earlier state, including parts of North Vietnam.(16)

It was during the Three Kingdoms period (220-265 A.D.) that Buddhism became popular in the state of East Wu, with temples and their attendant pagodas being built from that time onwards. The first Buddhist temple was the Temple of Beneficence, i.e. the temple next to the Great Northern Pagoda, built by King Sun Quan for his mother.(17) By the 19th century there were 284 temples in Suzhou and the nearby countryside.(18) Only some of these are still religiously active, and many are now tourist sites rather than places of pilgrimage, in spite of a general relaxing of strictures on religious practice over the last three decades. A small number of mosques and active churches are also found in the city. One of the finest Buddhist complexes, including fine halls, pavilions and large bells will be found in the township of Zhouzhuang, a preserved complex of waterways, mansions and moon-gates that draws enormous tourist activity.(19) One of the few active teaching centres of Buddhism in the region is to be found at Divine Rock Temple, which was founded in 503, partly destroyed in 1860 and 1966, and restored in 1980, with 156 monks having graduated in the decade down to 1990.(20)

Although first founded in 514 B.C., it was not until the Sui (581-618 A.D.) and Tang (618-907 A.D.) Dynasties that Suzhou became an important commercial centre of southern China.(21) The eclipse of the early independent kingdom of Wu was not the end of the political importance of the region, which with the fall of the Tang Dynasty for a time established itself as an independent state with its capital of Hangzhou: - 

Late in the Five Dynasties period, the kingdom of Wu-yue extended its control down the coast to Fuzhou. Its forces destroyed the short-lived state of Yin, which then occupied what is today the Minei portion of Fujian.

The highpoint of Sinitic Wu culture came during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1276), when the region formed the geographical core of what was surely the most highly cultured state in the world. The Wu-speaking peoples have thus left a major legacy for all human civilization. The Southern Song, with its capital at present-day Hangzhou, played a particularly important role in transmitting Buddhism and other cultural and artistic values to Japan. During the Song, the present-day Wu-speaking peoples were allowed to remain united in a single province, rather than being split as they are now into two provinces.

Hangzhou remained the administrative capital of the vast unit of the Mongol empire that Marco Polo called Manji. . . .(22)

Marco Polo recorded a vivid impression of the city of 'Su-chau' (Suzhou) in the province of 'Manzi' during the thirteenth century: -

Moving on from here we shall tell you next of a large and splendid city called Su-chau. The people here are idolaters, subject to the Great Khan and using paper money. They live by trade and industry, having silk in great quantity and make much silken cloth for their clothing. There are merchants here of great wealth and consequence. The city is so large that it measures about forty miles in circumference. It has so many inhabitants that no one could reckon their number. I give you my word that the men of the province of Manzi, if they were a war-like nation, would conquer all the rest of the world. But they are not war-like. I can assure you rather that they are capable merchants and skilled practitioners of every craft, and among them are wise philosophers and natural physicians with a great knowledge of nature.

Let me tell that in this city there are fully 6,000 stone bridges, such that one or two galleys could readily pass beneath them. In the adjacent mountains rhubarb and ginger grow in great profusion, so that one Venetian groat would buy forty pounds of ginger, of excellent quality. The city exercises authority over sixteen others, all large and busy centres of trade and industry.(23)

This description of the bridges (though their number is exaggerated), the silk industry, and general wealth of Suzhou seem generally accurate. Frances Wood, however, has argued that there are no mountains near Suzhou, that ginger is usually grown further west, and that rhubarb never has been produced there.(24) The point concerning rhubarb can be conceded, but the hills near Lake Taihu are fertile and today produce a range of agriculture products, including citrus and stone fruits. On this basis, it would be possible for Suzhou to have been a local market for a wide range of agricultural products, perhaps vaguely sketched, though not accurate in all details, by Marco Polo's Description of the World.(25)

The wealth of the region was indeed based on a varied economy: - 

In the inland areas, diking and poldering had drained the swamps and decreased the saline content of the soil, so that the fields were suitable for rice. A networks of canals and drainage systems was constructed, with high embankments to protect fields and sluice gates to control the water for irrigation. The kingdom produced a superabundance of rice and it exported it to a number of other states. Silk was another of the celebrated products of the area. Sericulture based on mulberry grown on the embankments was a local agricultural sideline, and silk weaving contributed to the development of handicraft industries centered on Suzhou.(26)

Already by 1229 A.D., Suzhou was one of the great cities of China, with a likely population of 300,00, rising towards 500,000 in the sixteenth century.(27) Suzhou became a major entrepot, rivalling cities such as Canton and Wuhan.(28) Located near the nexus of the Yangtze River and Grand Canal, it therefore partook of the great flows of trade which linked the east-west trade of the Yangtze basin and the north-south of axis of trade along the coast regions. The southern section of the Grand Canal had been opened in July 1415, but due to changes in the course of the Yellow River, declined in importance after 1840.(29) While the Grand Canal remained open, Suzhou was a crucial link in the life-line connecting Hangzhou and Beijing. This shipment of goods through the region of Suzhou included a wide range of items. Rice flowed out of the rich rice producing area, much of it going north in later imperial times to Beijing, especially after punitive levies were placed on the region after failed revolts. This rice tribute contributed to a large part of the barge activity along the Grand Canal, and Suzhou was the main regional collection point.(30) Yet at times rice was imported in the lower Yangtze area from other provinces, largely due to three reasons: 'population growth made parts of East-central China the most densely populated areas in the country; the imperial government forced rice exports as part of tax revenues to Peking; and a larger proportion of farmers in East-central China than elsewhere were engaged in commercial agriculture of products other than grain.'(31) Yet local trade networks developed rapidly during the Ching period as well. Within a radius of some 50 miles as many as forty daily markets or towns with warehouses and stores were located.(32) From the 18th century Suzhou had a branch of the Jianghaiguan, the river and sea customs service (33), allowing it to be involved in regional and international trade.

With these considerations in mind, we can see why Suzhou was a sizeable urban conglomerate even in Ching times, with as many as 500,000 to a million people living in and around the city.(34) It became one of the three most populous cities in China. However, Suzhou, like most Chinese cities, has also had its share of turmoil and suffering. In 1356 Suzhou came under the control of Zhang Shicheng, a rebel and salt merchant who proclaimed himself in revolt against the Yuan government and declared himself king of the entire region. Suzhou was controlled by the rebels until 1366. When the Jongwu emperor regained control of the city, he removed large numbers of the local nobles and levied a heavy land tax which provided some one-tenth of the entire revenues of the empire.(35) In later periods there were strong appeals by local nobles for the reduction of these heavy taxes, usually without success, and sometimes with severe punishments being given to those who dared protest.(36) The removal of the Ming administrative centre from the southern capital of Nanking to Beijing would also further reduce the political importance of Suzhou(37), though the city remained a regional administrative centre (in varying degrees) through the following centuries.

In 1860, the progress of Taiping rebellion brought about one of the most violent periods of Suzhou's history. Spreading from their main base at Nanking, Taiping forces moved into the area in force, causing large numbers of refugees to flee, especially to Shanghai.(38) There were also internal uprisings in Suzhou, but unlike the Small Sword uprising in Shanghai, the local uprising in Suzhou was not successful. However, Taiping armies attacked and destroyed parts of the city, especially in the area of the Northern Pagoda.(39) Folklore accounts suggest that up to half a million deaths accompanied this destructive phase, perhaps mainly in the western suburbs.(40)

For a time Li Xiucheng, a prince of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, had his official residence in the Zhong Wang mansion in the north of the city. This large building, with painted roof beams, was opened in 1960 as the Suzhou Museum, and now houses a wide range of archaeological items, pottery, painting, fans and remnants of the Taiping period in the city. The collection includes some thirty thousand cultural relics and a hundred thousand ancient and modern books. During the Taiping period, many wealthy 'gentry' fled to Shanghai and in response to their requests a force of twenty-five hundred Anhwei Army 'roughnecks' under Li Hung-chang was sent to Shanghai in 1862.(41) With the help of foreign adventurers and appointees, including for a time the young Lieutenant Charles Gordon, Li's combined forces managed to put pressure on the Taiping during 1863. Though garrisoned by forty-thousand of the Taiping troops, Suzhou was taken from them on 5 December 1863, largely due to quarrelling among the rebel leaders.(42) The aftermath of the intense conflict provides some of the more lurid episodes of Chinese history.(43) The Taiping forces were eliminated on 19 July 1864, in a massive attack on Nanking which destroyed much of that city and according to some reports killed over a hundred thousand people.(44) These events also gave Li Hung-chang the military and administrative commands he needed to begin a spectacular career that would make him one of the most powerful men in China during the last half of the 19th century.

Likewise, the region of Suzhou did not escape from turbulence during the twentieth century. During the Sino-Japanese war, the Japanese developed a major offensive breaking out of Shanghai and spreading west up the Yangtze River, leading to the disastrous fall of Nanking in December 1937. The nature of the warfare in this region has been well summarised by Marvin Williamsen: -

Chinese commanders attempted to establish defensive lines fifty miles to the west on a line from Fushan on the Yangtze to Soochow, and on to the Shanghai-Hangchow railroad line, but it proved impossible to do so. The disorder in Chinese formations was too great, command and control had deteriorated too badly, and Japanese pressure from the air and on the ground was continuous and deadly. Soochow was abandoned without a fight on November the 19th. As Japanese forces relentlessly pursued their opponents, what had been characterized as a "positional" war at Shanghai became a war of rapid movement. Japanese aircraft seemed to be everywhere, reconnoitring Chinese troop movements as well as strafing and bombing. The roads west were clogged with panic-stricken refugees.(45)

The region also witnessed one of the tumultuous last phases of Civil War in April 1949, when over a million soldiers of the Red Army crossed the Yangtze River, with forces striking from the west through Anking or north via Chinkiang over a 400-mile long front, and then converging to occupy the areas around Changchow, before moving on to take Shanghai.(46)

It is clear, then, that Suzhou has lived through times of achievement and turmoil. The city today has the appearance of a community able to endure hardship as well as enjoy success. Bearing in mind the survival of this city through the millennia, it is not surprising that Suzhou has developed a culture which reflects both the general development of China, as well as making its own unique regional contribution. Furthermore, Suzhou has been able to adapt effectively to modernisation and China's opening to the world economy.

An Ancient Centre of Culture 

There are several distinctive features of Suzhou and its people. Few of the Wu people joined the large-scale migrations of the coastal Chinese, perhaps because during the same period the nearby city of Shanghai offered similar economic opportunities (47) but without the hardship of sojourns overseas. Their history has also left a distinct literary and cultural legacy in Suzhou. Suzhou is part of a broader region of over 85 million speakers of the Wu dialect, mainly in Zhejiang Province and parts of southern Jiangsu.(48) The dialect of Suzhou (called Suhua or Subai) is famous as a softly spoken, refined dialect with its own literary and operatic traditions.(49) Likewise, Suzhou, as an important southern city, was a centre of Song and Ming culture, a trend which continued through to the early Ching period. Suzhou was the source of twenty-seven of the first rank of scholars during the Ching dynasty, making it a foremost centre of scholarship.(50) This city, along with Hangzhou, was a major focus for academic and popular publishing during the seventeenth century. It was here that the Huanduzhai publishing house was active, especially in the later part of the century when Wang Ang was writing.(51) Wang Ang was 'a leading popularizer of medical knowledge during the Ching', perhaps picking this area because it was both practical and less likely to draw negative attention from the Ching authorities.(52) Today, Suzhou remains the centre of a strong publishing industry, including the Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House and the Suzhou University Press,(53) as well as a centre of paper production.(54)

The city is especially famous for its craftsmen and artists, and is the centre of the Wumen School of Painting, which greatly influenced landscape painting throughout the Ming and Ching Dynasties.(55) With the marked change in season, ranging from hot summers to cool winters with occasion snowfalls, the area has a particularly impressive range of atmospheric and light conditions. Surrounded by lakes and rivers, the sky is often misty, and an impressionistic light makes the area ideal for landscape painters. The ancient canals and houses, tree-lined streets and numerous gardens provide suitable backdrops for a wide range of local artists. Specialised local crafts include the production of silk embroidery, fine fans and lanterns, specialised musical instruments, mahogany furniture, brocade and silk hand-weaving, the making of traditional stage costumes, specialised paints, and wood-block prints. Suzhou also has a fine tradition of calligraphy.(56)

Other local art forms include Kunqu Opera, Suzhou Opera, local dialect forms of ballad singing and story telling (Pingtan). The Wu School of Medicine and classical architecture were all developed to a high degree.(57) Nor are these art forms merely cultural relics, only preserved in small snippets for the tourist industry. Artists are still extremely active in capturing the differing aspects of the city, and opera performances still play to packed Chinese audiences in halls adjacent to the Northern Pagoda, though admittedly appealing to the older generation more than the young.

Overall, Suzhou came to represent the height of culture and refinement in many areas of Chinese cultural life. As summarised by F.W. Mote: -

Soochow drew to it and fostered the arts of China - the literary arts above all, but also music and painting, calligraphy, the craft arts, the decorative arts, and the minor arts that contributed to the elegant life. Also, Soochow sustained learning, the mechanism for achieving social status and official careers, and the prestige affectation of all who could afford it. It lavished wealth on gardens and art collections and religious institutions; its citizen's dress, their mansions, their delicate foods, their pleasure boats and pleasure houses and theatricals and festivals were reputed to be the finest in all China. If some of those statements were also made about other places . . . it only proves that Soochow was first among many rivals in the multicentered urban life of China.(58)

For all these reasons, Suzhou, at least until the rise of Shanghai, came close to dominating the financial, commercial, intellectual and cultural life of the richest region of China,(59) in spite of Southern and Northern capitals being located elsewhere, and the relative importance of both Nanking and Hangzhou. It is this history which helps account for a certain refined self-confidence that seems to be the hallmark of Suzhou citizens today. 

Some of these factors are reflected in the Folk Custom Museum in Suzhou (located not far from the Lion Grove Museum), which is housed in a number of linked mansions in the northern-eastern part of the city. The displays are unusual in focusing on urban traditions, with the marriage customs, foods, banqueting, festivals and artistic skills of its bustling middle (and upper) class being represented through artefacts, photos, model displays and Chinese explanatory texts.

Suzhou, of course, is famous for its canals, gardens, and historical landmarks. The city is crossed by a network of canals, largely unchanged from earlier centuries, though in some cases roads and modern bridges have partly covered the canal system. Ancient poets spoke of Suzhou's 390 bridges, past gazetteers listed some 400, and currently there are some 168.(60) The canals, bridges, and history of the city have traditionally drawn comparisons with Venice, and it is not surprising that Venice and Suzhou enjoy a sister-city relationship.(61) Altogether, the city and environs have some 400 historical and cultural sites, with 69 being listed as national or provincial monuments.(62) Famous bridges such as the Precious Belt Bridge, south of Suzhou and crossing the Dai Dai River, and the Midu Bridge crossing the Grand Canal, date back respectively to the 11th and 13th centuries.(63)

The gardens of Suzhou constitute an art form in their own right, and have influenced other types of classical Chinese garden, as well as being one source of inspiration for Zen gardens in Japan.(64) The collective brilliance of these Suzhou gardens is such that they have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the nineteen such listed sites throughout China.(65) Recently, China's World Heritage Research Committee was established at Suzhou to increase scientific management of these cultural relics.(66) This correlates with a comprehensive effort by the State Relics Bureau to begin to standardise management of China's 300,000 historical structures, and to produce databanks, atlases and training courses on this heritage.(67)

Traditional Musicians Perform at The Master-of-the-Nets Garden

These heritage sites in Suzhou include the Master-of-the-Nets garden, a small, compact garden and villa with pavilions looking around a central pool of absolute serenity. Small bridges link walkways and open halls, while above an ancient tree (reputed to be nine hundred years old), left with one branch of living greenery, pushes into the clear autumn sky. One of the favourite features of the garden is the Pavilion of Greeting the Moon and Breeze, which is built out over the water. Behind it, moreover, is a large mirror reflecting the garden itself.(68) This small mansion was originally built by Shi Zhengzhi, a retired vice-minister of defence for the Southern Song Dynasty, in 1174, but the garden was further developed in 1770.(69) Today, it is a tourist attraction for both Chinese and foreigners, and at least some of the older people sitting above the carp-filled pool may be locals enjoying a moment of serenity in the midst of the busy city. During Autumn evenings, before the weather is too cold, there are traditional music and culture shows that briefly re-enact a past that seems never to be too distant in the Chinese historical imagination. 

Another large and famous tourist site is the Humble Administrator's Garden, a large complex of gardens based on the masterpiece created by a national censor and envoy of the Ming Dynasty, Wang Xianchen, who had been forced to retire due to official corruption.(70) This is one of the most popular sites for visiting Chinese tourists, and includes a museum concerning the layout and theory of Chinese gardens. The theory of these gardens includes the notion of 'borrowing' a distant view or monument, in effect thereby incorporating it into the garden structure. From one section near the central ponds in the garden it is possible to get a good view of the Northern Pagoda, thereby borrowing this element into the more intimate scale of the trees and rocks of the immediate landscape.(71) One of the smaller but more intimate gardens, is the Lion Grove Garden, which was first laid out in 1336. The East Garden is less busy than most, and has a tea house that allows a peaceful overview of a moulded landscape of rocks and trees.

Closer to the centre of the city, in the middle of a thriving shopping area with numerous department stories, clothing stalls and the ubiquitous Kentucky Fried Chicken, stands Sanqing Hall of the Xuanmiao Taoist Temple. It is an imposing wooden hall with the typical upward curving roof that seems common for older structures in Suzhou. First build in 276 A.D.,(72) it was later rebuilt under the Emperor Chunxi of the Southern Song. It is the largest standing temple hall in the lower Yangtze. From 1371 it was a provincial office set up to administer Taoist affairs, and in turn became one of the central temples of the Pure Unity Sect.(73) However, the associated buildings are at present in disrepair. Declared a Cultural Relic, it is currently being rebuilt and maintained, in part through the support of the Suzhou City Taoist Association. Just behind the hall, which is largely occupied by thirty-foot statues of Taoist effigies kept behind glass, there is a large open shed. Inside are found smaller statues of heroes and gods. There are two large altars for burning incense and candles, and in the centre a place to kneel before the main altar. An old man in black, wearing a traditional priest's hat with an angled flat crown, seemed delighted when a Western woman asked how to perform an incense offering. He was the officiating Taoist priest, and he showed her the path between the various stations, then the proper way to show respect with the fisted hand, covered by the palm. Two Chinese tourists, perhaps from Taiwan, asked for advice on what to do. But it was clear that this was more than just a tourist site. A group of five local Chinese, clad in off-white sack-cloth, soon filed into the altar area, perhaps to perform a ceremony for a dead relative.

The level of activity found in such temples suggests that Taoism has become less important as an institutional religion than in the past, but retains its more diffuse cultural influence on Chinese life. This view is supported by trends from nearby Shanghai, where there were 3,716 Taoist novices and nuns in 1949, and only 426 in 1993.(74) Of course, Taoism and Buddhism retain a strong cultural influence, and a large number of Chinese may visit a temple or shrine at some stage of their life, even if irregularly.(75) Religion generally has made something of a comeback in China, and is likely to continue to grow gradually, especially Protestantism and Buddhism.(76) The Xuanmiao Temple itself is due for renovations and a remodelling of the nearby street as part of Suzhou's comprehensive conservation plan (see further below).(77)

The Famous North Pagoda, Suzhou

The city, of course, was not just known for its canals, bridges, gardens, and refined culture. It is also a city of famous pagodas, including the Twin Pagodas, the Great Northern Pagoda, and the famous leaning pagoda, Cloud Rock Pagoda, nearby on Tiger Hill. The entire set of such attractions has led to Suzhou and its region being a major centre of tourism, especially drawing Chinese tourists to its well-preserved and now famous sites. Some of these places, e.g. the Carved Mansion (78) near Lake Taihu, and various locations on Tiger Hill have been used as film locations in Chinese television serials and for feature film production. Many locations near Lake Taihu have been used in television series such as Romance of Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh, and form a major tourist circuit from nearby Wuxi.(79)

Certainly the North Pagoda helped place Suzhou in the mind of Western tourists, as can be seen in a guidebook written by Hampden du Bose in 1911: - 

On the banks of the Grand Canal eighty miles west of Shanghai, twelve miles east of the Great Lake, and forty miles south of the Yangtze, stands a far-famed city, the silk metropolis of the Orient. Even in this hurried twentieth century a crowd of admirers stands with reverent awe around the statue of antiquity, and gazes upon its towering heights, which seem to pierce the clouds.(80)

The pagoda, of course, stands in a bigger compound which from the eleventh century had been a famous Buddhist site, the Pao-en Temple, first established in the third century A.D.(81) One of the most impressive local halls is to be found just east of the pagoda, the Nanmu Hall of the Goddess of Mercy, rebuilt in 1612.(82) Though its original statues have been lost, they have been replaced by two impressive statues, while much of the hall seems to be in its Ming-Dynasty condition.

What Hampden du Bose may not have realised, however, is that unlike the funerary or temple monuments of Egypt and Greece, the stones, bricks and wood of the Great Pagoda were in fact probably not very ancient. Like many such pagodas and temples in East Asia, they are regularly rebuilt or even remodelled, either to repair cumulative damage or to make them more glorious. The Great Pagoda had probably been rebuilt or had major repairs in 1078, 1449, 1582, 1603, 1671, and 1900.(83) Frederick Mote has correctly pointed out that this demonstrates a rather different attitude to the monumental past than is found in Western history and archaeology: - 

Chinese civilization did not lodge its history in buildings. Even its most grandiose palace and city complexes stressed grand layout, the employment of space, and not buildings, which were added as a relatively impermanent superstructure. Chinese civilization seems not to have regarded its history as violated or abused when the historic monuments collapsed or burned, as long as those could be replaced or restored, and their functions regained. In short, we can say that the real past of Soochow is a past of the mind: its imperishable elements are monuments of human experience. The only truly enduring embodiments of the eternal human moments are the literary ones.(84)

In Suzhou this has led to an intermixing of the ancient and modern, with ancient buildings preserved amid new buildings and town-house complexes. Yet even these new buildings often retain small features that link them to the past: a traditional roof-line or an ornate window screen is common even in the most modern buildings. Within the confines of the ancient city area, most of the buildings have been kept to less that five stories, with some small high-rise areas in the commercial centre. The sky-scrapers have been left to a small central district, or to areas outside the city proper, e.g. in the Suzhou Industrial Park. This seems to conform with the integrated industrial and preservation plan developed by the city, in which the ancient city retains its role as a cultural, tourist, and traditional industrial and commerce centre, with new industries and technological projects being developed in the areas outside the city proper.(85) Beyond, within a hundred kilometres of Suzhou, there are dozens of historic towns and villages, many of them now nationally famous, including sites such as Mudu, Dongshan, Tongli, Shengze, Chenmu, Zhenze and many others.(86)

At a deeper level, however, this reuse and rebuilding on one ancient site has been going on for about one thousand years. Frederick Mote could correctly note that the basic features of the central area of Suzhou, as represented in the ancient map of 1229 A.D. correlate closely with the features visible in an areal photograph of 1945.(87) The same applies today if you take the time to walk around the city, still the best way to really appreciate daily life in this urban centre. Ancient canals within the city can be readily identified, as can some of the ancient gates and the rough outlines of what would have been the line of the ancient walls, which assumed their 'present extent and location' between 626 and 875 A.D.(88) The best preserved of the gates is the famous Panmen land-and-water gate in the south-west of the old city. The walls remained intact down to the early 1950s, when it was still possible to walk around the city along them. Most of the walls would only be torn down during the phase of modernisation which transformed Chinese walled cities during the following decade.

Originally, the city had eight land and eight water gates.(89) The line of rivers and canals that formed an inner mote for the city can be easily identified, as can the Grand Canal which still swarms with river traffic, often driven by underpowered diesel motors. This sense of mingled past and present, of the ancient and the briskly modern side-by-side, may disorient the expectations of tourists, who may prefer pristine museum cities preserved entire. However, the Suzhou landscape provides a more realistic sense of contemporary China, where the ancient and the post-modern are often linked together casually, without any sense of profanation. In the 1970s it could be noted that in 'the remarkable continuity of Soochow as a city, the impermanence of the city's individual parts and the stability of its form and physical presence, as well as the pervasiveness of its past in the minds of the living, are typical of Chinese cities, and of Chinese civilization.'(90) That remains true of Suzhou today, even when two huge new industrial areas have been added to the east and west of the city. It is possible to wander along an ancient street lining a canal hundreds of years old, and see an Internet Pub where people pay a few yuan to surf the net or play their favourite computer games. To the citizens of Suzhou, there is nothing incongruous about this picture.

A Contemporary Economic Centre with Historical Roots

Suzhou has long been a centre of major textile industries, including silk and cotton production, as well as of embroidery, paper and handicraft production.(92) Historically, silk has had a major role in the social and cultural life since the earliest times. Silk production may have begun at a primitive level in the region as early as the late Neolithic period, as indicated by stone artefacts. Since the Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 222-A.D. 280) the region was involved in the export trade along the Silk Road, with Chinese silk eventually traded as far as Japan, Persia, Greece and Rome. Two routes were utilised, one leading by land through Central Asia, the other based on naval routes to Southeast Asia, then to ports of the Indian Ocean, Red Sea or Persian gulf.(93) Silk weaving skills were highly developed by the Tang Dynasty, perfected in the Song, and remained highly skilled through the Ming and Qing periods. Suzhou was one of the famous 'three weaving bureaux' south of the Yangtze River, and silk was produced for royal as well as noble usage. It is possible that silk from this region reached Japan as early as the first century B.C., and that Wu dress styles even influenced the formation of the Japanese kimono. Silk production, export and research remains very strong in Suzhou and the surrounding areas today. In recognition of this, a large Silk Museum was opened in the city in 1991, largely due to the efforts of Qian Xiao Ping, professor and expert in silk and silk design. The museum contains an effective display of ancient and modern fabrics, as well as techniques in the growing, production and weaving of silk.

By the 19th century Suzhou was a key example of early capitalist development, bringing together capital, resources, labour, and trade routes. It was 'in fact sustained by capital from Shanxi, Huizhou, and Ningbo financiers, and by cheap sojourner labor from other parts of China'.(94) Up to 20,000 workers were employed in the short-term market of the dying and calendering workshops in Suzhou.(95) It is not surprising that it was in Suzhou that bank notes were used in lieu of silver as medium of exchange, and became part of a wider trading system in response to shortages of silver in China after 1830.(96)

The traditional economic base of the city has been summarised: -

The extension of the city in space is perhaps most clearly seen in the economic life of the society. Cities were organizational nodes in the networks of marketing and distribution, and in finance and banking systems. Yet, in the case of Soochow, the commercial and banking concentration was outside the city, in the suburbs to the west of the city walls, extending some distance along the Grand Canal. As for craft industry, silk weaving was concentrated within the northeast corner inside the walls, but cotton weaving was outside the city, rather dispersed. The manufacture of the famous Soochow dyed and printed cotton textiles was spread even farther. Skilled labor hiring points, mostly for laborers hired for very short terms or by the day, were both within the city and outside it. Specialized markets for products such as fish, fancy fruits and vegetables, and certain manufactures were located in market towns ten and fifteen miles away and further; they often served Soochow as specifically and as importantly as Soochow in other ways contributed to their existence. Inside the city, the elite classes, whether of officialdom or of commerce and industry, displayed no distinctly urban modes of dress, of housing, or of life style; out in the small market towns, or in truly rural settings, those would be no different. Without attempting to describe economic life in any detail, it is possible to conclude that the extension of the city's activities and social attitudes went far beyond the city, even though in an essentially agrarian society.(97)

These traditional industries remain a prominent part of economic life and exporting industries today. Suzhou silk is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the best in the world, and Suzhou provides up to one third of China's export of this product.(98)

 

Silk production, of course, has continued at a number of levels. Silk embroidery is produced in traditional and new patterns at the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute, housed in an old mansion replete with courtyards and quiet workshops. Utilising Chinese and Western images, skilled workers still produce the famous double-sided embroideries, with both sides replicating exactly the same image. Using thousands of stitches and hundreds of hours of labour, these Suzhou embroideries are often used as state gifts, or to adorn official occasions. These traditional skills are readily adapted for new demands and styles. In Suzhou Silk Factory No. 1, for instance, a wide range of items ranging from traditional Chinese garments to modern high fashion are showcased, as demonstrated in the Factory's extensive showrooms. Alongside these products, the factory also produces famous silk-padded items, which are exported all over the world. Nor are ancient techniques rigidly adhered to. A major silk and textile technology programme is situated in one of the campuses of Suzhou University, and leads the world into the research of silk and its uses.

 

Silk Production in Suzhou

Aside from these traditional industries, Suzhou has also consciously planned to embrace new industries and widen its industrial base. Suzhou, of course, is an open economic zone,(99) and therefore can benefit directly from the open-door trade policy and opportunities for foreign investment. This includes 'development in machine building industry, electronics industry, pharmaceutical industry, chemical industry, light industry, building materials industry, and metallurgical industry'.(100) Between 1978 and 1994, the city experienced an average annual economic expansion of 21.5%, with average per-capita income surpassing 12,600 yuan and exceeding the performance of other cities in Eastern China.(101) By 1996, overall 'economic might' placed the region third strongest nationally, after Shanghai and Beijing.(102) From January to October 1998 Suzhou attracted US$3.02 billion in foreign investment, ranking it second after Shanghai in attracting such funding.(103) By the end of September 1998, some 5,257 foreign-funded enterprises were operating.(104)

The investment plan for Suzhou has largely been facilitated through the creation of two large industrial parks: in the east a joint Sino-Singapore venture, the Suzhou Industrial Park, and the western regional development owned by the Suzhou municipal government, the Suzhou New District Project.

The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) was launched as a major project bringing Singaporean and other international investment into the region. The Industrial Park, a joint project run by a Singaporean consortium and a group of Chinese companies, owning 65% and 35% respectively, was to be completed over a twenty year period, involving a total cost of US$20 billion, and with a projected total population of 600,000.(105) Some 130 companies have committed themselves to set up in the Industrial Park, with companies such as Harris Semiconductor, Hitachi, Sumitomo, Samsung, RJR Nabisco, Black & Decker, Advanced Micro, Vickers, Solectron, L'Oreal and more recently ZF Friedrichshafen Ag (owner of ZF Drive Tech) having been attracted to join the project.(106) The Industrial Park has been promoted at the highest levels in Singapore and China, with public support from PRC President Jiang Zemin and Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and has run an efficient operation which has sought to limit overhead costs. The Suzhou Industrial Park has a streamlined administration which includes a liaison office which deals with some 80 Communist Party units throughout China and about 20 government departments in Singapore.(107) Nestled in among the modern warehouses, office towers and wide roads also stands a well-appointed, even luxurious, International School, the Suzhou Singapore International School, which caters for the needs of foreign families. It uses English and Chinese language programs, with curricula largely based on the Singaporean educational system. In fact, the Suzhou Industrial Park has aimed to create a complete service and residential community, relying on both local and international expertise. 

However, returns and investment in Suzhou Industrial Park have slowed in recent years, and activities in the area are not yet deeply integrated within Suzhou life. In late 1998 this led to local calls for more support for the project, with the Mayor Chen Deming arguing for stronger local support, while local Chinese Communist Party chief Liang Baohau asked for more efforts 'to boost the growth of trade, tourism and other service-oriented industries in the park'.(108) This project, of course, is one part of a wider Singaporean effort in China as a whole, with Singapore being the foremost of the ASEAN nations in trade with China. Overall, Singapore was China's fifth largest investor with US$8.75 billion being committed in 1997.(109) The Chinese ambassador to Singapore, Madam Chen Baoliu, stated in October 1998 that the Suzhou Industrial Park was back on track, due to the concerned effort of both sides.(110) At the same time, there have been some overall downturns in economic activity due to the impact of the Asian economic crisis on trade with China, including a reduction in trade of 5.2% and an investment reduction of 42% in the first half of 1998.(111) This led to further problems for the Industrial Park by mid-1999. By June 1999 Singapore announced that it was now only willing to complete a portion of the Suzhou Industrial Park, leaving the rest for its Chinese partners. In an interview, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew noted that negotiations had failed to resolve the problem of competition from the nearby Suzhou New District Project, which, according to Hong Kong correspondent Loh Hui Yin, has been 'copying marketing ideas from the SIP as well as going after the same investors'.(112) Ironically, the success of both developments may have brought them into competition. Singapore's change of policy could be interpreted as part of another round of negotiation designed to ensure the long-term viability of the Suzhou Industrial Park. At the very least, Singapore will complete one section of the park, replicating a large industrial estate, and meeting the needs of resident companies.(113)

Suzhou New District, on the western side of the old city, has drawn more than 320 foreign-funded enterprises from thirty countries and regions, with a total of some US$4 billion committed to the project.(114) Major overseas corporations have been involved, including Motorola, Acer, Philips, Fuji Film, Logitech Inc., Sony Chemicals Suzhou Co. Ltd, and Schindler Co. Ltd of Austria.(115) Operations include 'the electronic information, mechatronics, bio-medicine, machine-building, light, textile and high tech industries.'(116) In order to support high-technology firms, some US$482 million has been committed in infrastructure development, with new waterworks and a bonded warehouse coming into operation by late 1999.(117) Exports, revenues and profits from the New District remained strong through 1998, in spite of the Asian financial crisis.

Aside from these industrial trends, the wealth of the countryside should not be ignored. The Suzhou region remains one of the most diverse and intensified agricultural production areas in the world. This is reflected in hundreds of prosperous villages and townships which saturate the countryside. Rice paddy, market gardens, glass-houses and fish farms dot a landscape well-watered by thousands of interconnected canals. The region of Suzhou has some 900,000 farmers and rural labourers, who had average increases of 27.1% in their income through the early 1990s, resulting in a moderate level of livelihood by the mid-1990s.(118) It seems clear that these are not peasants in the traditional sense, but comparatively prosperous small farmers who have greatly benefited from modernisation, the market economy, and some level of local autonomy and democratisation. In China as a whole, these people retain considerable importance. Today, these farming communities often combine small industries and workshop activities alongside a pattern of farming production now aided by technology, education, agricultural science (119) and new investment inputs,(120) creating a productive capability that feeds into city economies.(121) These factors find reflection in the solid two and three story houses that dot the countryside, now often filled with all the modern amenities, though tractor-trailers are more common than cars. In recent decades the students, teachers and workers of cities like Suzhou were still expected to go out and help the farmers with the harvest. Today, with bumper crops growing throughout the lower Yangtze, no one seems to be needed to help these farmers, who continue to harvest the rice with little machinery. Agricultural reform, the foremost of China's Four Modernisations, has continued to maintain the traditional fertility and rural wealth of the region.

The city of Suzhou remains a major centre of education, with some ten different institutions of higher learning and fifteen colleges for continuing education.(122) As in the rest of China, parents in Suzhou make intense efforts to ensure that their children receive the best education possible. The cut off point is not between high school and university, but in the intense competition to proceed from middle level schools to higher level school education. From the better high schools, most students proceed to a university education. Suzhou University itself is a large institution with a very wide range of programmes including foreign languages, Chinese language and literature, philosophy, law, education, history, science, agriculture, public administration, engineering, and a highly respected medical school.(123) Presently, Suzhou University has some 24,000 students, 8,500 adult education students, and some 3,200 faculty and staff.(124) Suzhou University has been chosen as one of the 100 key universities for China in the 21st century (the '211 Project'), thereby taking over a wide range of educational activities throughout the city and region. Formerly known as the Dong Wu University, it was founded in 1900. It now has 18 specialist schools, 52 graduate programs, 10 doctoral programs and one post-doctoral program,(125) plus a department of physical education. These resources are located on several campuses within the city, occupying a total of 89 hectares.

Within the University there are some surprises. On the beautiful main campus, there is the Australian Studies Centre, which includes a renovated seminar room with computers, a wide range of books and journals, and the opportunity to undertake higher studies in Australian literature and culture. This Centre, in conjunction with the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies (Bond University, Australia) has recently launched the Association of Sino-Australian Comparative Cultural Studies, designed to promote educational and cultural activities between the two countries.

The Australian Studies Centre of Suzhou University has as its chairman Prof. Wang Guofu, a scholar who is perfectly fluent in English and Australian culture. He was one of the first Chinese to be selected to undertake the 'Scholars to Study Abroad' programme for higher education in Australia,(126) and has since visited Australia several times on research trips. He and his research network form an active link between Australia and China, not only showing the unique pleasures of studying Australian culture, but also the way Australia can provide a useful and positive window on the wider Anglo-European world. The Australian Studies Centre was established with supported from the Australia-China Council, an organisation which maintains strong on-going connections with the Centre. Professor Wang has been involved in the study and translation of Australian literature, and in 1998 won the Australia-China Council Prize for his translation efforts. This was awarded in October 1998 at the 6th Conference of Australian Studies in China, a conference held by The Australian Studies Association of China. Professor Wang's most recent large project has been the translation of the Macquarie Dictionary into Chinese. This dictionary, originally researched and published in Australia, has the advantage of being an extremely comprehensive treatment of English and American usages, as well as adding unique words that have come into use in Australia. It is regarded as one of the most extensive Chinese guides to 'World English' now available.

The City of the Future: Balancing Needs and Opportunities

Suzhou, as an ancient and modern city, has also become aware of the need to preserve its culture and environment, both for the benefit of its inhabitants, as well as to promote trade and tourism. I.M. Pei, a renowned architect, has headed an advisory committee in launching an 11-year project to preserve the ancient part of the city (called Gusu City). To run from 1999-2010, the project aims to reduce the impact of the high urban population and local industries on the strained structure of the old city.(127) Tasks which have begun already include the dredging of old canals and their replenishment with fresh water from Lake Taihu, the shutting down or replacement of 130 environmentally unsound factories, and the removal of some working places and residents into the adjacent Suzhou New District and the Suzhou Industrial Park.(128) Future tasks include the laying of new drainage pipes, the creation of two sewage treatment plants, and the upgrading to modern pipelines for gas, water, power, cable TV and other amenities.(129) Likewise, the Suzhou Industrial Park has shown concern for sound environmental management in having turned down some 50 investment proposals which failed to meet environmental concerns, including one project worth some US$200 million because of potential radioactivity hazards.(130)

Urban and industrial development, of course, stresses both urban infrastructure and the natural environment. The entire Lake Taihu basin has had to face serious resource and environmental problems with the growing pollution of Lake Taihu itself and related ground waters. A major resource of water for up to 34 million people as well as a scenic resource for up to 10 million tourists, these waters have begun to suffer from industrial and agriculturally based pollution, which has boosted nitrogen and phosphorous levels, as well as from increased levels of blue-green algae.(131) These problems are being tackled through the 'Ninth Five-Year Plan on Controlling Taihu Lake Water Pollution' and the related 'Program Through to the Year 2010'. That these programs were conducted seriously can be seen in the fact that of 1035 major polluters, most met the new guidelines, while some 42 production units were shut down and 101 stopped production and declared bankruptcy, though it is true that some units tried to re-open later on.(132) Efforts have also been made to reduce household waste water flows, though the construction of new sewage plants has been somewhat slower than hoped.(133)

Likewise, Suzhou has been careful to balance its industrial and agricultural production. One of the impacts of modernisation, industrialisation, and the development of the information sector has been a significant decrease in cultivated lands throughout China, as alternative and often more lucrative forms of employment draw away workers. Between 1978 and 1995, Suzhou itself had lost some 88,000 hectares of farmland (133), in many cases to other forms of land use. In order to maintain agricultural prosperity as well as regional food security, Suzhou officials 'proposed a new concept based on balance between population growth and the grain supply, and between the use of existing land and reclaiming waste land, a method to enable to city to achieve self-sufficiency in grain and non-staple food, as well as sustainable economic development.' (135) By 1995, this program resulted in total grain output of some 2.66 million tons, with a per-capita yield of 500 kg.(136)

Westerners often view China's cities as classic examples of the problems caused by rapid modernisation, population growth and increased pollution. While this may be true in some cases, it is no longer true of Suzhou. A middle-sized city, it has begun to address the serious environmental problems which face the region, and has promoted a vision of modernisation combined with a high quality of life. This has benefited from certain indigenous advantages, including an educated and relatively prosperous population, a careful zoning of industrial development, and a vigorous export trade. Likewise, the surrounding countryside provides a plethora of agricultural and aquatic resources. Suzhou remains one of China's 'green cities' (137) in that it is still largely able to feed itself from its adjacent territories, rather than relying solely on foods imported through long supply chains. It is still possible to see fresh goods, including fruit and vegetables, brought into the city in the early morning by bicycle, with vendors then selling them directly on the streets. Of course, a wide range of sophisticated processed foods is available, some of them manufactured in nearby Shanghai, others imported internationally. Continued implementation of these environmental, agricultural and urban planning programs will be needed if these developmental problems are to be fully resolved.

Suzhou seems happy in supporting its local, national and international networks, side-by-side. Overall, it is this mix of self-sufficiency and outward-directedness that gives Suzhou its resilience in facing China's next millennium. Taken as a model of regional development in eastern China, Suzhou demonstrates that cautious optimism in the future must be based on sound resources, an educated population, and an ability to adapt to change while retaining a clear sense of continuity with the past.

 

Footnotes

1. R. James Ferguson is Assistant Director of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies, and lectures in International Relations at Bond University. His email address is:

james_ferguson@bond.edu.au

2. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p4.

3. Map adapted from detail, courtesy of PCL Map Library.

4. For details, see "The General Survey of Suzhou", Internet Homepage,

at http://www.china-window.com/Suzhou_w/SURVEY/index.html & FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p2.

5. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p4.

6. Ibid., p5.

7. "The General Survey of Suzhou ", Internet Homepage,

at http://www.china-window.com/Suzhou_w/SURVEY/index.html

8. Ibid.

9. Even by 1996, up to 40% of Suzhou's industrial enterprises were foreign-funded, with Mitsubishi, Toyota, Sony, Matsushita, Du Pont, Siemens, Philips, Samsung, Lotech Electronics and other firms making foreign investment commitments of US$5.65 billion. This made the Suzhou area the third highest in such investments in China after Shanghai and Guangzhou, FENG, Jing "Why Suzhou Is Magnetic To Foreign Investors", Beijing Review, 18-24 November 1996, p21. In recent years, this has also included considerable new investment from Taiwan, making Suzhou the leader for such investment nationally in 1998, XIAO, Zhang "Taiwan Investment Bucks Trend to Support Suzhou Development", Business Weekly, 20-26 December 1998, p5.

10. Also drawing over some US$800 million in overseas investment, HAN, Baocheng "Taihu Lake Tourist Holiday Resort", Beijing Review, 3-9 June 1996 [Internet Access].

11. For a useful overview, see "Suzhou, China", Internet Homepage,

at http://www.clientserver.ucr.edu/csprog/hp/janec/suzhou.htm

12. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p144

13. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p151; FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p49.

14. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p16.

15. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p144.

16. FITZGERALD, C.P. China: A Short Cultural History, London, Cresset Press, 1965, pp256-259; MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p144.

17. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, pp120-121.

18. Ibid., p121.

19. See the photographic exposition found in WU, Wen et al. Suzhou, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 1998.

20. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, pp133-134.

21. Ibid., p4.

22. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p144.

23. POLO, Marco The Travels of Marco Polo, trans. Ronald Latham, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1972, p212. The account was apparently put in writing by 'Messer Rustichello of Pisa' from the verbal statements of Marco Polo while they were in a Genoese prison, Ibid., pp33-34; WOOD, Frances Did Marco Polo Go To China?, London, Secker & Warburg, 1995, p39.

24. WOOD, Frances Did Marco Polo Go To China?, London, Secker & Warburg, 1995, p90.

25. For the modern debate over whether Marco Polo ever actually went to China, and the view that he was relying on family records and possible Arabic sources, see WOOD, Frances Did Marco Polo Go To China?, London, Secker & Warburg, 1995, pp140-151. Frances Wood's thesis that Marco Polo did not reach China is rejected in HALL, Richard Empires of the Monsoon: A History of the Indian Ocean and Its Invaders, N.Y., Harper Collins, 1996, pp43-48.

26. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p30

27. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p39.

28. ROZMAN, Gilbert Urban Networks in Ch'ing China and Tokugawa Japan, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1973, p130.

29. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p164.

30. Ibid., p59.

31. ROZMAN, Gilbert Urban Networks in Ch'ing China and Tokugawa Japan, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1973, pp130-131.

32. Ibid., p227.

33. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995 p158.

34. ROZMAN, Gilbert Urban Networks in Ch'ing China and Tokugawa Japan, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1973, p227.

35. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p35.

36. MA, Xueqiang "Squires and Shanghai Society in the Ming and Ching Dynasties", in ZHANG, Zhongli et al. (eds.) SASS Papers, Volume 7, Shanghai, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 1998, pp293-294.

37. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p42.

38. Ibid., p7.

39. Ibid., pp274-345.

40. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, pp39-42.

41. SEAGRAVE, Sterling Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, N.Y., Vintage Books, 1992, pp109-112.

42. Ibid., p113.

43. Ibid., pp113-114.

44. Ibid., p114.

45. WILLIAMSEN, Marvin "The Military Dimension, 1937-1941", in HSIUNG, James C. & LEVINE, Steven L. China's Bitter War: The War With Japan 1937-1945, N.Y., Armonk, 1992, p144. For an assessment of the general strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese military response to the Japanese invasion, see CH'I, Hsi-sheng "The Military Dimension, 1942-1945", in HSIUNG, James C. & LEVINE, Steven L. China's Bitter War: The War With Japan 1937-1945, N.Y., Armonk, 1992, pp157-184. The Taiwanese view of the activity of Nationalist armies at that time provides the following brief account: 'A portion of enemy forces crossed Kun-cheng Lake to attack Soochow. In conjunction with enemy forces at Hu-pu, enemy forces advancing from Tai-tsang pressed against Chan-shu and Fu-shan. In order to avoid a decisive battle, our forces moved toward Wu-hsi-Chiang-yin line at night and ordered the 15th and 21st Army Groups to move toward An-chi, Hsiao-feng, Ning-kuo and Hsuan-cheng, southwest of Tai Lake. On November 25, Wu-hsi fell', HSU, Long-hsuen & CHANG, Ming-kai (Compilers) The History of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Taipei, Chung Wu Publishing Co., 1972, p211.

46. BARBER, Noel The Fall of Shanghai, N.Y., Coward, McCann & Georghegan, 1979, pp40-144.

47. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p143.

48. Ibid., p144.

49. Ibid., p151.

50. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p200. See also MA, Xueqiang "Squires and Shanghai Society in the Ming and Ching Dynasties", in ZHANG, Zhongli et al. (eds.) SASS Papers, Volume 7, Shanghai, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 1998, pp290-291, p300.

51. WIDMER, Ellen "The Huanduzhai of Hangzhou and Suzhou: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Publishing", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 56 no.1, June 1996, p78.

52. Ibid., p114.

53. Since 1992 Suzhou University Press has published over 400 titles comprising a total of more than 11 million copies.

54. See "Suzhou Papyrus Paper Readies 100,000 ton Coated Fine Paper Mill," TAPPI Journal, 79 no. 5, May 1996, pp81-85.

55. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p171.

56. Ibid., pp165-167, pp172-180.

57. Ibid., p11, pp182-196.

58. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p45.

59. Ibid., p56.

60. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p43; FAN, Tingshu et al (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p9.

61. Other sister cities include Victoria in Canada, Kanazawa and Ikada in Japan, and Portland in the United States, FAN, Tingshu et al (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p6.

62. Ibid., p11.

63. Ibid., pp26-28.

64. MOSER, Leo J. The Chinese Mosaic: The Peoples and Provinces of China, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985, p151.

65. Historically, there may have been as many as 271 gardens in Suzhou, with some 19 officially open to the public, FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p7.

66. "Heritage Research", China Daily, 23 November, p3.

67. "State Developing System to Protect Sites", China Daily, 23 November 1998, p2.

68. For further description, see FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p54.

69. Ibid., p51.

70. Ibid., pp37-38.

71. For a further description, see Ibid., p40.

72. Ibid., p140.

73. Ibid.

74. LUO, Weihong "The Development of Religion in Shanghai in the Situation of Reform and Opening: Its Present and Future", in ZHANG, Zhongli et al. (eds.) SASS Papers 7, Shanghai, The Publishing House of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 1998, p426.

75. Ibid., pp428-429, p438.

76. LUO, Weihong "The Development of Religion in Shanghai in the Situation of Reform and Opening: Its Present and Future", in ZHANG, Zhongli et al. (eds.) SASS Papers 7, Shanghai, The Publishing House of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 1998, pp439-440. Some 13,000 Christian churches have opened throughout China since 1979, "Religious Freedom Guaranteed", Shanghai Star, 11 December 1998, p7.

77. ZHU, Linyong "'Paradise' Suzhou Getting a Facelift", China Daily, 10 December 1998, p9.

78. Also called the Lasting Spring Mansion, completed in 1925 but using the epitome of earlier wood and stone craftsmanship, FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p40, p83.

79. SUN, Yifei "Wuxi Taihu Lake TV and Film Tour", Travel China, 10 no. 17, 29 April 1998, p9.

80. Hampden C. du Bose, in MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p45.

81. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p49.

82. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p153.

83. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p50.

84. Ibid., p51.

85. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p13.

86. Ibid., pp69-98.

87. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p53.

88. Ibid., p53.

89. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p3.

90. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p55.

91. For a critical view on the legal and ethical implications of the Internet in China, see WANG, Dehua "The Law in Cyberspace and Its Effect on Ethics", in ZHANG, Zhongli et al. (eds.) SASS Papers 7, Shanghai, The Publishing House of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 1998, pp200-212.

92. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p9.

93. See Chaudhuri, K. N. Asia Before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1990; FRANCK, Irene M. & BROWNSTONE, David M. The Silk Road: A History, N.Y., Facts on File, 1986.

94. JOHNSON, Linda Cooke Shanghai: From Market Town to Treaty Port, 1074-1858, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1995, p13.

95. Ibid., p58.

96. Ibid., p229.

97. MOTE, Frederick W. "A Millennium of Chinese Urban History: Form, Time and Space Concepts in Soochow", Rice University Studies, 59 no. 4, Fall 1974, p55.

98. For details, see "The General Survey of Suzhou", Internet Homepage,

at http://www.china-window.com/Suzhou_w/SURVEY/index.html & FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p5.

99. FAN, Tingshu et al. (eds.) Cultural Galaxy of Suzhou, Suzhou, Gu Wu Xuan Publishing House, 1993, p12.

100. Ibid., pp5-6.

101. HAN, Guojian "Suzhou: An Ancient City With A Modern Outlook", Beijing Review, 15-21 January 1996, p24.

102. Ibid.

103. "Overseas Input", Shanghai Star, 11 December 1998, p10.

104. Ibid.

105. LOH, Hui Yin "Singapore 'To Finish Only Portion of Suzhou Park'", The Straits Times Interactive, 10 June 1999 [Internet Access]; "The Trouble With Singapore's Clone", 3 January 1998 [Internet Access via Infotrac SearchBank].

106. ZHANG, Dingmin "Investors' Faith Unshaken", China Daily, 17 May 1999 [Internet Access]; LI, Rongxia "New Reports from Suzhou Industrial Park", Beijing Review, 30 June - 6 July 1997, pp15-16: "Auto Part firm Set Up in Suzhou", China Daily, 15 June 1999 [Internet Access].

107. "China Praises Suzhou Park", The Straits Times, 23 October 1998, p3.

108. "Suzhou Park 'Can Use More Support", The Straits Times, 22 October 1998, p14.

109. KOH, Kok Kiang "Singapore Leads ASEAN in Trade with China", The Straits Times, 22 October 1998, p14.

110. Ibid.

111. Ibid.

112. LOH, Hui Yin "Singapore 'To Finish Only Portion of Suzhou Park'", The Straits Times Interactive, 10 June 1999 [Internet Access].

113. Ibid.

114. ZHANG, Dingmin "Suzhou Zone Fosters High-tech Firms", Business Weekly, 13-19 December 1998, p5.

115. FENG, Jing "Why Suzhou Is Magnetic To Foreign Investors", Beijing Review, 18-24 November 1996, p22.

116. Ibid.

117. ZHANG, Dingmin "Suzhou Zone Fosters High-tech Firms", Business Weekly, 13-19 December 1998, p5.

118. LI, Rongxia "Suzhou Pursues Grain Self-Sufficiency", Beijing Review, 7-13 October 1996, p13.

119. Suzhou scientists and agro-technicians have developed new strains of wheat, cotton, pigs and silk-worms, LI, Rongxia "Suzhou Pursues Grain Self-Sufficiency", Beijing Review, 7-13 October 1996, p15.

120. This has been funded by direct investment from the City administration of 3.31 billion yuan for 1990-1995 and some 10.75 billion yuan in agricultural loans for 1991-1995 from agricultural banks and credit cooperatives, LI, Rongxia "Suzhou Pursues Grain Self-Sufficiency", Beijing Review, 7-13 October 1996, pp13-14.

121. Jiangsu province, for example, has 756 township enterprises with export licenses, which handled some US$3.84 billion worth of exports during the first four months of 1999, while 22% of the total volume of Suzhou's export sector was based on local township enterprises, "Exports on the Rise in Townships", China Daily, 14 June 1999 [Internet Access]. Suzhou has also developed major projects with Taiwanese investors in the neighbouring city of Qunshan and in the Wujiang Economic Development Zone, mainly focusing on information technology exports, XIAO, Zhang "Taiwan Investment Bucks Trend to Support Suzhou Development", Business Weekly, 20-26 December 1998, p5.

122. For a listing, plus a sample of famous Suzhou literati and modern talents, see "The General Survey of Suzhou ", Internet Homepage, at http://www.china-window.com/Suzhou_w/SURVEY/index.html

123. Suzhou Medical School, with its famous expertise in dermatological science, has recently entered into a major deal with L'Oreal Beauty Products in a joint US$31 million deal to produce a major line of beauty products, "Beauty Products Joint-Venture Operational in Suzhou", Xinhua News Agency, 12 May 1999 [Internet Access via Infotrac SearchBank].

124. See further details in "A Brief Introduction to Soochow University", through Suda Homepage, at http://www.suda.edu.cn/yxsz/sdgke.htm

125. Ibid.

126. See further DAY, Annabel "China's Gang of Nine: A Reminiscence with Professor Wang Guofu", an article in this volume of the Culture Mandala.

127. ZHU, Linyong "'Paradise' Suzhou Getting a Facelift", China Daily, 10 December 1998, p9.

128. Ibid.

129. Ibid.

130. ZHANG, Dingmin "Investors' Faith Unshaken", China Daily, 17 May 1999 [Internet Access].

131. LI, Rongxia "Taihu Lake Pollution-Control Project Underway", Beijing Review, 22-28 March 1999, pp13-15.

132. Ibid., p16.

133. Ibid., p17.

134. LI, Rongxia "Suzhou Pursues Grain Self-Sufficiency", Beijing Review, 7-13 October 1996, p13.

135. Ibid.

136. Ibid.

137. For some positive moves towards sustainable cities in China, see BISCHOFF, Angela & GOMBERG, Tooker "Green Odyssey", New Internationalist, June 1999, pp14-15.

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The Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies,

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences,

Bond University, Queensland, Australia

 

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