Saturday, 19 March 2011


Shijiazhuang (simplified Chinese: 石家庄; pinyin: Shíjiāzhuāng) is the capital and largest city of North China's Hebei Province. Administratively a prefecture-level city, it is about 280 kilometres (170 mi) south of Beijing. Shijiazhuang Prefecture contains the Shijiazhuang metropolitan area, the Jingxing Mining District, five county-level cities, and twelve counties, and has a total population of 9.6 million, with 2.6 million in the metro area in 2008.

Shijiazhuang is a newly industrialised city. It experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The population of the metropolitan area has more than quadrupled in only 30 years[1] It is a central hub of transportation routes. The city is home to large garrison of military troops in case of need to protect Beijing[1] It has a number of PLA colleges and universities.


In pre-Han times (i.e., before 206 BC) it was the site of the city of Shiyi in the state of Zhao, and, from Han (206 BC–AD 220) to Sui (581–618) times, it was the site of a county town with the same name. With the reorganization of local government in the early period of the Tang dynasty (618–907), the county was abolished. Shijiazhuang then became little more than a local market town, subordinated to the flourishing city of Zhengding (modern Zhengding) a few miles to the north.

The growth of Shijiazhuang into one of China's major cities began in 1905, when the Beijing–Wuhan (Hankou) railway reached the area, stimulating much new trade and encouraging local farmers to grow cash crops. Two years later the town became the junction for the new Shitai line, running from Shijiazhuang to Taiyuan in central Shanxi province. This connection immediately transformed the town from a local collecting center and market into a communications center of national importance on the main route from Beijing and Tianjin to Shanxi and — later, when the railway from Taiyuan was extended to the southwest — to Shaanxi province as well. The city also became the center of an extensive road network.

During the pre-World War II period, Shijiazhuang was a large railway town as well as a commercial and collecting center for Shanxi and the regions farther west and for the agricultural produce of the North China Plain, particularly for grain, tobacco, and cotton. By 1935 it had far outstripped Zhengding as an economic center. At the end of World War II the character of the city changed once again. Not only did it assume an administrative role as the preeminent city in western Hebei but it also developed into an industrial city. Some industry, such as match manufacturing, tobacco processing, and glassmaking, had already been established before the war.

Until 1948, the city was instead known as Shímén (石門), and then it was renamed to Shijiazhuang.

Xibaipo, a village about 90 km from Shijiazhuang, in Pingshan County was the location of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army during the decisive stages of the Chinese Civil War between May 26, 1948 and March 23, 1949, at which point they were moved to Beijing. Today, the area houses a memorial site.[2]

Only after 1949, however, did the planned industrialisation of the city gather momentum. Its population more than tripled in the decade 1948–58. In the 1950s the city experienced a major expansion in the textile industry, with large-scale cotton spinning, weaving, printing, and dyeing works. In addition, there are various plants processing local farm produce. In the 1960s it was also the site of a new chemical industry, with plants producing fertilizer and caustic soda. Shijiazhuang also became an engineering base, with a tractor-accessory plant. There are important coal deposits at Jingxing and Huailu, now named Luquan, a few miles to the west in the foothills of the Taihang Mountains, which provide fuel for a thermal-generating plant supplying power to local industries. The city's role as a transport center has been supplemented by the construction of an airport handling regular domestic flights.

In 1967, Tianjin was for the last time carved out of Hebei province, and thus the provincial capital was moved to Baoding. Yet was quite chaotic in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, and under the direction of Mao Zedong, in 1968, to "prepare for war and natural disasters", Shijiazhuang became the provincial capital and remains so today.


Shijiazhuang is located in south-central Hebei, and is part of the Bohai Economic Rim. The latitude of the prefecture ranges from 37° 27' to 38° 47' N, the longitude 113° 30' to 115° 20' E. At its greatest, the prefecture is 148 kilometres (92 mi) long from south to north and 175 kilometres (109 mi) wide from east to west. The prefecture has borders stretching 760 kilometres (472 mi) long and covers an area of 15,800 square kilometres (6,100 sq mi). Bordering prefectures within Hebei are Hengshui (E), Xingtai (S), and Baoding (N/NE). To the west lies Shanxi Province.

The city stands at the edge of the North China Plain, which rises to the Taihang Mountains to the west of the city, and lies south of the Hutuo River (滹沱河). From west to east, the topography can be summarised as moderately-high mountains, then low-lying mountains, hills, basin, and finally plains. Out of the eight east-west routes across the Taihang Mountains, the fifth, the Niangzi Pass, connects the city directly with Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi.

The mountainous part of the prefecture consists of parts of:

    * Jingxing Mining District
    * Jingxing County
    * Zanhuang County
    * Xingtang County
    * Lingshou County
    * Yuanshi County
    * Luquan City

The Hutuo River Basin in the east juts into:

    * Xinle City
    * Wuji County
    * Shenze County
    * Jinzhou City
    * Gaocheng City
    * Gaoyi County
    * Zhao County
    * Luancheng County
    * Zhengding County
    * The metropolitan area and its suburbs, in their entirety
    * All of the divisions mentioned in the above list, except for Jingxing Mining District


The city has a continental, monsoon-influenced semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk), characterised by hot, humid summers due to the East Asian monsoon, and generally cold, windy, very dry winters that reflect the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone. Spring can bear witness to sandstorms blowing in from the Mongolian steppe, accompanied by rapidly warming, but generally dry, conditions. Autumn is similar to spring in temperature and lack of rainfall. January averages −2.3 °C (27.9 °F), while July averages 26.8 °C (80.2 °F); the annual mean is 13.4 °C (56.1 °F). More than half of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August alone.


In 2009, the GDP of Shijiazhuang reached RMB 311.7 billion, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year.

Salaries continue to experience relatively rapid growth as well. The city continues to strive to create an economic atmosphere encouraging investment and growth. Total fixed investment reached RMB 172.7 billion.

Shijiazhuang has become a major industrial city in North China and is considered to be the economic center of Hebei province. The city is the largest base for the pharmaceutical industry and is also one of the most important textile industry bases. Other main sectors include machinery and chemicals, building materials, light industry and electronics. With abundant agricultural resources, Shijiazhuang has 590,000 hectares of cultivated land and is the main source of high quality cotton, pears, dates and walnuts in Hebei province.[4]

In 2008, total imports reached US$1.393 billion, an increase of 42.1 percent over the previous year. Exports increased by 34.9 percent to US$5.596 billion.[4]

The Shijiazhuang municipal government reports that higher education and vocational education continue to experience rapid development, while compulsory education has experienced an increase in quality. A 2006 World Bank reports that Shijiazhuang spends less than RMB400 per capita on education, as opposed to Beijing (RMB1,044) and Weihai (RMB1,631).[5]
Development Zones

    * Shijiazhuang High-Tech Industrial Development Zone

The zone was established in March 1991 as a State-level development zone and is divided into three districts. Several National Highways like 107, 207, 307, 308 pass through the zone, and it is 15 km away from Shijiazhuang Railway Station, 105 km away from Tianjin Port. The zone has comprehensive infrastructure and industries encouraged include pharmaceuticals, electronic information, mechanical production, automobile manufacturing, chemicals production and logistics.[6]

The Eastern District, located in the eastern part of Shijiazhuang, covers an area of 5.8 square kilometers, and serves as the primary section of the New High-tech Industrial Development Zone. The district focuses on the establishment of new high-tech enterprises. There are plans to expand the district into an area of 9.8 square kilometers. A special railway line operated by Shijiazhuang Oil Refinery runs through the zone from north to south, making it easy for enterprises in the zone to build lines of their own if necessary.[4]

The Western District, located in the southwest of Shijiazhuang, covers an area of 8.2 square kilometers. It focuses on small- and medium-sized technology enterprises and technology incubation. Liangcun District, which borders the Western District, covers four square kilometers, and focuses on the pharmaceutical industry and the petrochemical industry. All three districts are subject to the same policies and regulations.[4]

Since its foundation 2,560 enterprises have settled in the zone, of which 185 are foreign-funded enterprises. At present, firms from Japan, the US, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Italy, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan have all established themselves in the zone.[5]
Dairy centre

The city is an important centre for the dairy trade, being the headquarters of the Sanlu Group. Both were rocked by the 2008 Chinese milk scandal. Chairman and General Manager of Sanlu, and several party officials, including vice mayor in charge of food and agriculture, Zhang Fawang, were reportedly removed from office.[7][8][9] Mayor Ji Chuntang reportedly resigned on 17 September;[10]

Since Sanlu, the region's largest purchaser of milk, was ordered to halt production, farmers in Hebei are suffering hardship because of the lack of purchasers for their milk. Many are said to be contemplating selling their cows into a buyerless market



In 2001 the city received approval from the World Bank for a US$100 million loan for the Shijiazhuang Urban Transport Project, which was designed to foster the development of an efficient and environmentally sustainable urban transport system while providing a wider set of travel choices for users. The project is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2008, with a total estimated cost of US$266 million. Major elements of the project include the upgrading of 25 kilometers of peripheral roads linking the city to the surrounding provincial highways, the upgrading and construction of 52 kilometers of urban major arterial roads, and the construction of six multi-level interchanges, two major rail overpasses, and 21 pedestrian crossing facilities.[4]
Rail and Roads

Shijiazhuang is a transportation hub: it is at the intersection point of the Beijing-Guangzhou, Taiyuan-Dezhou, and Shuozhou-Huanghua railroads and many expressways, including the Beijing-Shenzhen and Taiyuan-Cangzhou Expressways.

The Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport is the province’s center of air transportation. It is located about 30 kilometers northeast of the city and can accommodate all types of medium and large-sized aircraft. Presently there are 32 domestic routes arriving at and departing from Shijiazhuang, including destinations such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian, Hong Kong, and other medium and large cities. In addition, the airport services 12 international destinations including four routes to Russia. The airport is currently being expanded and will be capable of being an alternate airport to Beijing Capital International Airport.[5]