Kunming

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Kunming
昆明市
Prefecture-level city
Clockwise from top: Kunming's Skyline, Kunming Railway Station, Dian Lake, and Yuantong Temple
Clockwise from top: Kunming's Skyline, Kunming Railway Station, Dian Lake, and Yuantong Temple
Nickname(s): City of Eternal Spring
Tuodong City, Yachi Fu, Yunnanfu
Location of Kunming City jurisdiction in Yunnan
Location of Kunming City jurisdiction in Yunnan
Kunming is located in China
Kunming
Kunming
Location in China
Coordinates: 25°04′N 102°41′E / 25.067°N 102.683°E / 25.067; 102.683Coordinates: 25°04′N 102°41′E / 25.067°N 102.683°E / 25.067; 102.683
Country People's Republic of China
Province Yunnan
County-level divisions 14
Township divisions 137
Settled c. 279 BC[1]
City seat Chenggong
Admin units
Government
 • Party Secretary Zhang Tianxin (张田欣)
 • Mayor Li Wenrong (李文荣)
Area
 • Prefecture-level city 21,015 km2 (8,114 sq mi)
 • Urban 4,615 km2 (1,782 sq mi)
 • Metro 4,615 km2 (1,782 sq mi)
Elevation 1,892 m (6,207 ft)
Population (2011 census)
 • Prefecture-level city 6,486,400
 • Density 310/km2 (800/sq mi)
 • Urban 3,891,400
 • Urban density 840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
 • Metro 3,891,400
 • Rank in China 16th
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Postal code 650000
Area code(s) 0871
License plate prefixes A
GDP (2009) CNY 301.114 billion
 - per capita CNY 46,814.99
City flower Camellia japonica
City tree Magnolia denudata
Website http://www.km.gov.cn/
Kunming
Chinese 昆明
Hanyu Pinyin Kūnmíng
Literal meaning brilliant descendants

Kunming is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China.[2] Known as Yunnan-Fu (云南府, Yúnnánfǔ) until the 1920s, today it is a prefecture-level city and the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of the province as well as the seat of the provincial government. The city is also home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Yunnan's large businesses are in Kunming as well. It was important during World War II as a Chinese military center, American air base, and transport terminus for the Burma Road. Located in the middle of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,234 feet) above sea level and at a latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer. It covers an area of 21,473 square kilometres (8,291 sq mi) and its urban area covers 2,622 square kilometres (1,012 sq mi). Kunming has population of 6,432,212, including 3,583,429 in the built-up area made up of 4 urban and 1 suburban districts,[3] and is located at the northern edge of the large Lake Dian, surrounded by temples and lake-and-limestone hill landscapes.

Kunming consists of an old, previously walled city, a modern commercial district, residential and university areas. The city has an astronomical observatory, and its institutions of higher learning include Yunnan University, Yunnan Normal University and a medical college. On the outskirts is a famed bronze temple, dating from the Ming dynasty.

Its economic importance derives from its geographical position. Positioned near the border with Southeastern Asian countries, serving as a transportation hub in Southwest China, linking by rail to Vietnam and by road to Burma and Laos. This positioning also makes it an important trade center in this region of the nation. It also houses some manufacturing, chiefly copper, though some other chemicals, machinery, textiles, paper and cement take key. Though having a nearly 2,400 year history, its modern prosperity dates only from 1910, when the railway from Hanoi was built. The city has continued to develop rapidly under China's modernization efforts. Kunming's streets have widened while office buildings and housing projects develop at a fast pace. Kunming has been designated a special tourism center and as such sports a proliferation of high-rises and luxury hotels.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Kunming long profited from its position on the caravan roads through to South-East Asia, India and Tibet. Early townships in the southern edge of Lake Dianchi (outside the contemporary city perimeter) can be dated back to 279 BC, although they have been long lost to history. Early settlements in the area around Lake Dian date back to Neolithic times. The Dian Kingdom, whose original language was likely related to Tibeto-Burman languages was also established near the area.[4]

Dian was subjugated by the Chinese Han dynasty under the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in 109 BC. The Han dynasty incorporated the territory of the Dian Kingdom into their Yizhou Commandery, but left the King of Dian as the local ruler.

The Han dynasty (205 BC–AD 220), seeking control over the Southern Silk Road running to Burma and India, brought small parts of Yunnan into China's orbit, though subsequent dynasties could do little to tame what was then a remote and wild borderland. During the Sui dynasty (581–618), two military expeditions were launched against the area, and it was renamed Kunzhou in Chinese sources.

Medieval China[edit]

Founded in 765, Kunming was known to the Chinese as Tuodong (拓东) city in the Kingdom of Nanzhao (737–902) during the 8th and 9th centuries. Tuodong later became part of the successor Kingdom of Dali (937–1253). Eventually this changed when Tuodong came under the control of the Yuan dynasty invasion of the southwest in 1252–1253. In 1276 it was founded by the Mongol rulers as Kunming County and became the provincial capital of Yunnan. The city grew as a trading center between the southwest and the rest of China. It is considered by scholars to have been the city of Yachi Fu (Duck Pond Town) where people had used cowries as cash and ate their meat raw, as described by the 13th-century Venetian traveler Marco Polo who traveled to the area and wrote about his fascination of the place.

Ming and Qing dynasties[edit]

In the 14th century, Kunming was retaken as the Ming dynasty defeated the Mongols, which built a wall surrounding present-day Kunming. Ming General Wu Sangui defected to Manchu invaders 300 years later and held the city until his death in 1678, long after the rest of China had fallen under Manchu rule. During the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, it was the seat of the superior prefecture of Yunnan.

The area was first dubbed Kunming in the period towards the decline of the Yuan dynasty and later still in 1832, the beginnings of a real city were acknowledged within the city walls and significant structures within their confines. Founding of the city can, therefore be said to have been a predominantly 19th century affair. It was also in this century that the city grew to become the major market and transport centre for the region.

Kunming suffered at the hands of rebel leader Du Wenxiu, the Sultan of Dali, who attacked and besieged the city several times between 1858 and 1868. Little of the city's wealth survived the 1856 Panthay Rebellion, when most of the Buddhist sites in the capital were razed. Decades later Kunming began to be influenced by the West, especially from the French Empire. In the 1890s, an uprising against working conditions on the Kunming–Haiphong rail line saw many laborers executed after France shipped in weapons to suppress the revolt. The meter-gauge rail line, only completed by around 1911, was designed by the French so that they could tap Yunnan's mineral resources for their colonies in Indochina.

Kunming was a communications center in early times and a junction of two major trading routes, one westward via Dali and Tengchong County into Myanmar, the other southward through Mengzi County to the Red River in Indochina. Eastward, a difficult mountain route led to Guiyang in Guizhou province and thence to Hunan province. To the northeast was a well-established trade trail to Yibin in Sichuan province on the Yangtze River. But these trails were all extremely difficult, passable only by mule trains or pack-carrying porters.

Modern history[edit]

Old Kunming quarter, containing the narrow and curved Sister Buildings (姊妹楼) behind the Victory Monument on Guanghua Jie, located across the street to the north of the old Bird and Flower Market

Kunming reverted to county status in 1912, under the name Kunming, and became a municipality in 1935. The opening of the Kunming area began in earnest with the completion in 1906–1910 of the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway to Haiphong in north Vietnam (part of French Indochina). Kunming became a treaty port opening to foreign trade in 1908 and soon became a commercial center. In the 1930s its importance grew still further when the first highways were built, linking Kunming with Chongqing in Sichuan and Guiyang in Guizhou to the east. Kunming's rail link to Hanoi was cut during World War II, restored in 1957, cut again in 1979, and reopened in 1996.

The Flying Tigers and P-40 Warhawk in Kunming Air Base, 1944

Kunming was transformed into a modern city as a result of the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 when the invading Japanese forces caused a great number of east-coast Chinese refugees, some of whom were wealthy, to flood into the southwest of China. They brought with them dismantled industrial plants, which were then re-erected beyond the range of Japanese bombers. In addition, a number of universities and institutes of higher education were evacuated there. The increased money and expertise quickly established Kunming as an industrial and manufacturing base for the wartime government in Chongqing.

As China's military forces and civilians retreated outside the reach of the Japanese military forces a year prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, the city of Kunming became a new training hub for the battered but regrouped Chinese Air Force in which Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault took command of cadet training duties in the summer of 1938.[5][5] During the Second World War the city of Kunming was prepared as a National Redoubt in case the temporary capital in Chongqing fell, an elaborate system of underground caves to serve as offices, barracks and factories was prepared but never utilised. Kunming was to have served again in this role during the ensuing Chinese Civil War, but the Nationalist garrison turned coat and joined the Communists. Instead Taiwan would become the last redoubt and home of the Chinese Nationalist government, a role it fulfills to this day.[6]

When the Japanese occupied French Indochina in 1940, the links of Kunming with the west, both via the newly constructed Burma Road and by air, grew increasingly vital as Allied forces provided essential support by importing materials from the British-colony Burma. By this time, Kunming acted as an Allied military command center, which grouped the Chinese, American, British and French forces together for operations in Southeast Asia, including China, India and Burma. The Office of Strategic Services' Service Unit Detachment 101 (predecessor to the 1st Special Forces Group) was also headquartered in Kunming and whose mission was to divert and disrupt Japanese combat operations in Burma.[7]

Later on in the war, Kunming was targeted by the Imperial Japanese Air Force during their bombing campaigns, and when the Burma Road was lost to the Japanese, the American Volunteer Group, known as the "Flying Tigers", used Kunming as a base in 1941 and 1942 to fly in supplies over the Himalayas from British bases in India in defiance of Japanese assaults. They also were tasked with defending China's lifeline to the outside world, the Burma Road and the Ledo Road, which had Kunming as a northern terminus.[8]

Further information: Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road

Industry became important in Kunming during World War II. The large state-owned Central Machine Works[9] was transferred there from Hunan, while the manufacture of electrical products, copper, cement, steel, paper, and textiles expanded. A university was set up in 1922. Until 1952, Kunming was a walled city. The city government in 1952 ordered hundreds of young people to tear down the wall and use its bricks to make a new road running north-south. To show its appreciation for the young people that demolished the east wall, the city government named the new street after them. Their existence still echoes today in place names like Xiao Ximen (小西门, 'Lesser west gate') and Beimen Jie (北门街, 'North gate Street'). There are also less obvious connections to the wall, such as Qingnian Lu (青年路, 'Youth Road'), which was once Kunming's east wall.

After 1949 Kunming developed rapidly into an industrial metropolis with the construction of large iron and steel and chemical complexes, along with Chongqing, Chengdu and Guiyang in the southwest. A Minorities' Institute was set up in the 1950s to promote mutual understanding and access to university education among Yunnan's multiethnic population. The city consolidated its position as a supply depot during the Vietnam War and subsequent border clashes. Until Mao Zedong's death, Kunming was still generally thought in much of the rest of the country as a remote frontier settlement and so it acted as a place up to then for the government to exile people who had fallen politically out of favor, especially during the Cultural Revolution.

An old wooden house and a modern skyscraper in the background

Since the economic reforms of the mid-1980s, Kunming has also enjoyed increased tourism and foreign investment, for instance investors from Thailand trace their ancestries back to Yunnan. Several Thai Chinese banks have offices in Kunming, for example, Kasikorn Bank and Krung Thai Bank. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand has visited Kunming many times to study Chinese culture and promote friendly relations.

In July 2005, the second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit was held in Kunming, with government leaders from China, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam participating. There, China agreed to lend its neighbors more than $1 billion for a series of projects. China was then promoting GMS cooperation as a first step toward building an eventual China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Infrastructure improvements have been underway to improve links between Kunming and Southeast Asia in time for the 2010 China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which would have a population of approximately 1.8 billion. The FTA is expected to make Kunming a trade and financial center for Southeast Asia. In addition to physical improvements to enhance Kunming's trade with Southeast Asia, the central and provincial governments have made financial preparations to assist the city's emergence. At the end of 2004, the central government approved Kunming to be one of the 18 mainland cities in which foreign banks could conduct business in renminbi.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the city center was rebuilt, with Swiss help, in its current 'modern' style to impress visitors attending the 1999 World Horticultural Exposition.[10] It was primarily during 1997 and 1998 that much of the city's roads, bridges and high rises were built.

Kunming night

The World Horticultural Expo was widely regarded as a public relations success for Kunming, which seemed to exceed almost all expectations.[citation needed] Today the after-effects of the Expo are apparent in more than just the physical improvements to the city—it was the Expo that made the outside world take notice of Kunming, which was relatively unknown at the time.[dubious ]

In July 2006 talks at the ASEAN Regional Forum, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) agreed to construct a highway from Kunming to Chittagong through Mandalay for trade and development.[11]

On 1 March 2014, 29 people died, and more than 130 were injured at Kunming Railway Station in what the Chinese Xinhua News Agency described as a terrorist attack.[12]

Future[edit]

In recent years, Kunming's transport links to Southeast Asia and elsewhere, particularly its air links, are steadily expanding, with direct routes already existing to all major Chinese cities, most major Southeast Asian cities and some major cities in Japan and South Korea.

Key development issues for Kunming include a local educated and talent pool that is less sophisticated than larger Chinese cities and the need for increased transport links.[13]

Geography[edit]

Kunming is located in east-central Yunnan province. It is located between north latitude 24°23´ and 26°22´N, and east longitude 102°10´and 103°40´E, with a total area of 21,600 km2 (8,340 sq mi). Its widest stretch from the east to the west amounts to 140 km (87 mi) and its largest expansion from the north to the south amounts to 220 km (137 mi).

Situated in a fertile lake basin on the northern shore of the Lake Dian and surrounded by mountains to the north, west, and east, Kunming has always played a pivotal role in the communications of southwestern China. Lake Dian, titled as "the Pearl of the Plateau", is the sixth largest fresh water lake in China, is the largest lake in Yunnan and has an area of approximately 340 km2 (130 sq mi). Kunming's highest point is Mazong Ridge of the Jiaozi Mountain in Luquan with an elevation of 4,247 m (13,934 ft), and its lowest point is the joint of the Xiao River and the Jinsha River in Dongchuan District, with an elevation of 695 m (2,280 ft). Its downtown area is 1,891 m (6,204 ft) above sea level.

About 96 km (60 mi) southeast of the city is the Stone Forest, a karst formation developed as a tourist attraction consisting of rock caves, arches, and pavilions. It is part of the larger karst-based landscape of the area.

Climate[edit]

Located at an elevation of 1,890 metres (6,200 ft) on the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau with low latitude and high elevation, Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China, characterised by short, cool dry winters with mild days and crisp nights, and long, warm and humid summers, but much cooler than the lowlands. The weather never gets very hot in summer; the temperature has exceeded 30 °C (86 °F) only on a handful of occasions. However, freak snowfalls occur in occasional winters. Controlled by a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), the monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from 8.1 °C (46.6 °F) in January to 19.9 °C (67.8 °F) in June, with daily high temperatures reaching their lowest point and peak in December and May, respectively. With its perpetual spring-like weather which provides the ideal climate for plants and flowers, Kunming is known as the "City of Eternal Spring". The city is covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all-year round.[14] The period from May to October is the rainy season and the rest of the year is dry. The city has an annual mean temperature of 14.91 °C (58.8 °F), rainfall of 1,011 millimetres (39.8 in) (nearly three-fifths occurring from June to August) and a frost-free period of 230 days. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 30% in July to 69 percent in February and March, the city receives 2,198 hours of bright sunshine annually. Extreme temperatures in the city have ranged from −7.8 to 32.3 °C (18 to 90 °F).[15]

Natural resources[edit]

Mineral resources include phosphorus, salt, magnesium, titanium, coal, quartz sand, clay, silica, copper. Phosphorus and salt mines are the most plentiful. Proven reserves of phosphorus mine is 2,277 million tons. Kunyang Phosphorus Mine is one of the three major phosphorus mines in the country. Rock salt reserves are 1,222 million tons and mirabilite reserves are 1,908 million tons. Dongchuan is a major copper production base.

Proven reserves of Coal bed gas is about 500 billion cubic meters, equal to 720 million tons of standard coal.[17] Geothermal resources are widely distributed.

Environment and horticulture[edit]

Kunming has 2,585 hectares (6,390 acres) of lawns, trees and flowers, averaging 4.96 m2 (53.4 sq ft) per capita and a green space rate of 21.7 percent. The city's smoke control area is 115 km2 (44 sq mi) and noise control area 87 km2 (34 sq mi).

Kunming is a significant horticultural center in China, providing products such as grain, wheat, horsebeans, corn, potato and fruit such as peaches, apples, oranges, grapes and chestnuts. Kunming is world-famous for its flowers and flower-growing exports. More than 400 types of flowers are commonly grown in Kunming. The camellia, yulan magnolica, azalea, fairy primrose, lily and orchid are known as the six famous flowers of the city.

The camellia was confirmed by the Municipality of Kunming as its city flower in 1983.

The Kunming city government plans to create an environmental trial court to deal with environment-related lawsuits. It is to be part of the city's intermediate people's court and will have jurisdiction over appeals by companies that have been found guilty of violating environmental laws in cities throughout Yunnan.[18]

Paleontology[edit]

Among Chinese fossils that were discovered in 2002 was an important new invertebrate animal species from Early Cambrian deposits at Chengjiang near Kunming. Didazoon haoae represented an entirely new phylum of metazoans (multicellular animals), the phylum Vetulicolia. The specimen had a series of gill slits, which suggested that this new group illustrates an early stage in the diversification of the deuterostomes, one of the major animal divisions. Other deuterostome groups are the chordates (which includes the vertebrates), hemichordates, and echinoderms. Also reported was a Devonian Chinese fossil fish, Styloichthys changae, that has features linking the lungfish to tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates).

In 2004, newly discovered well-preserved soft-bodied fossils of deuterostomes from the Lower Cambrian Chengjiang deposits near Kunming represented a new group of echinoderms (a group of marine animals). Named vetulocystids, these deuterostomes were a diverse superphylum that included the chordates, hemichordates, and echinoderms. The find shed some light on the origin of the echinoderms. See also Myllokunmingia.

Demographics[edit]

Of the more than five million people registered as residents in Kunming in 2006, more than four million were Han. The Yi people were the most prominent minority in the city, with more than 400,000 residents. The least-represented ethnic minority in Kunming were the 75 Dulong people living in the city.

Registered ethnic populations of Kunming as of 2006:[19]

  • Han (汉族): 4,383,500
  • Yi (彝族): 400,200
  • Hui (回族): 149,000
  • Bai (白族): 73,200
  • Miao (苗族): 46,100
  • Lisu (傈僳族): 17,700
  • Zhuang (壮族): 14,000
  • Dai (傣族): 13,200
  • Hani (哈尼族): 11,000
  • Naxi (纳西族): 8,400
  • Manchu (满族): 4,800
  • Buyei (布依族): 3,400
  • Mongol (蒙古族): 2,500
  • Lahu (拉祜族): 1,700
  • Tibetan (藏族): 1,500
  • Yao (瑶族): 1,100
  • Jingpo (景颇族): 1,100
  • Va (佤族): 1,000
  • Blang (布朗族): 441
  • Primi (普米族): 421
  • Sui (水族): 294
  • Achang (阿昌族): 263
  • Nu (怒族): 156
  • Jino (基诺族): 135
  • Derung (独龙族): 75

Cityscape[edit]

Dongfeng (East Wind) Square. The building in the background, Workers' Cultural Hall, has been demolished for subway construction.

The city center has three major squares and five major streets: Jinma Biji Square, Nanping Square and Dongfeng Square along with Nanping Jie, Jinbi Lu, Renmin Lu, Zhengyi Lu and Jingxin Jie. Qingnian Lu, Zhengyi Lu, and Renmin Lu are the main commercial areas in Kunming; the most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Jie, Jingxing Birds-Flowers' Market, and Jinma Biji Fang.

Kunming's public focus is the huge square outside the now-demolished Workers' Cultural Hall at the Beijing Lu-Dongfeng Lu intersection, where in the mornings there are crowds doing taijiquan and playing badminton. Weekend amateur theatre are also performed in the square. Rapidly being modernized, the city's true center is west of the square across the adjacent Panlong River (now more of a canal), outside the Kunming Department Store at the Nanping Lu/Zhengyi Lu crossroads, a densely crowded shopping precinct packed with clothing and electronics stores. The river is polluted, black and oily. Surrounding the area are plenty of new high-rises.

The center is an area of importance to Kunming's Hui population, with Shuncheng Jie, one of the last old streets in the center of the city, previously forming a Muslim quarter. Until shortly before 2005, this street was full of wind-dried beef and mutton carcasses, pitta bread and raisin sellers, and huge woks of roasting coffee beans being earnestly stirred with shovels. Under Kunming's rapid modernisation, however, the street has been demolished to make way for apartments and shopping centers. Rising behind a supermarket one block north off Zhengyi Lu, Nancheng Qingzhen Si is the city's new mosque, its green dome and chevron-patterned minaret visible from afar and built on the site of an earlier Qing edifice.

Running west off Zhengyi Jie just past the mosque, Jingxing Jie leads into one of the more bizarre corners of the city, with Kunming's huge Bird and Flower Market convening daily in the streets connecting it with the northerly, parallel Guanghua Jie. The market offers many plants such as orchids that have been collected and farmed across the province. In the small grounds of Wen Miao, a now vanished Confucian temple off the western end of Changchun Lu, there is an avenue of pines, an ancient pond and pavilion, and beds of bamboo, azaleas and potted palms—a quiet place where old men play chess and drink tea.

Jinbi Lu runs roughly parallel to and south of Dongfeng Lu, reached from Beijing Lu. Two large Chinese pagodas rise in the vicinity, each a solid thirteen storeys of whitewashed brick crowned with four iron cockerels. The West Pagoda was built between 824 and 859, during the Tang dynasty; its original counterpart, the East Pagoda, was built at the same time, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1833 and rebuilt in the same Tang style in 1882. South down Dongsi Jie, past another mosque, the entrance to the West Pagoda is along a narrow lane on the right. In the tiny surrounding courtyard, sociable idlers while away sunny afternoons playing cards and sipping tea in the peaceful, ramshackle surroundings. The East Pagoda is a more cosmetic, slightly tilted duplicate standing in an ornamental garden a few minutes' walk east on Shulin Jie. The temples associated with both pagodas are closed to the public.

Central Kunming

Parks[edit]

Huating Temple (华亭寺) in the Western Hills near Kunming

Cuihu Park (Green Lake Park) is one of Kunming's major parks and is predominately a lake surrounded by greenery. It has a large and elaborate network of waterways and winding paths, with broad, lotus-covered pools and overhanging willows. It is a place where thousands exercise, do taijiquan, sing and feed the flocks of black-headed gulls. Located in the west side of the park is the statue of one of Yunnan's most famous patriots—Nie Er, the composer of China's national anthem. Now it is open to public for free.

Daguan Park lies on Dian Chi in Kunming's southwestern limits. Originally laid out by the energetic seventeenth-century Qing emperor Kangxi, it has been modified over the years to include a noisy funfair, food stalls and emporiums, and is a favourite haunt of Kunming's youth.

Kunming's zoo, founded in 1950, is adjoined to Yuantong Park. The zoo houses 5,000 animals from 140 species and receives 3 million visitors a year.[20]

Other parks in Kunming include Black Dragon Pool, and the Kunming Botanical Gardens in the north, and Wenmiao Tea Garden in Wuhua District.

Landmarks[edit]

The "Garden of the World Horticultural Exposition", located in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is six kilometers (3.7 miles) from central Kunming. From May 1 to October 31, 1999, Kunming held the 1999 World Horticulture Exposition, with the theme of "Man and Nature—Marching Toward the 21st Century". In the garden, visitors can see gardening and horticultural works from all over China and East Asia. All the horticultural works in the garden concentrate on the theme of "Man and Nature", with pavilions, towers, terraces, banks, islets and bridges.

The "Golden Hall Scenic Zone", located on the Mingfeng Hill in the northern suburbs of Kunming, is eight kilometers (5.0 miles) from central Kunming. Constructed in 1602 (the 30th year of the Wanli reign period of the Ming dynasty), all of its beans, pillars, arches, doors, windows, tiles, Buddhist statues, and horizontal inscribed boards are made of copper, weighing more than 200 tons. It is the largest copper building in China.

There are two major museums in Kunming, Yunnan Provincial Museum and Kunming City Museum. A third which opened in November 2006, is the Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology. Completed in 1995 is the Yunnan Ethnology Museum. Kunming is also the site of a major War of Resistance Air Force Martyrs Memorial Cemetery,[21] and is also home to the Kumming Flying Tigers Museum.[22]

Yuantong Temple, the largest Buddhist complex in Kunming

Yuantong Si is northern Yunnan's major Buddhist temple and an active place of pilgrimage. It is Kunming's largest and most famous temple with the original structure being first constructed more than 1,200 years ago during the Tang dynasty. The temple sits on the southern slopes of Yuantong Park. Northwest about 12 km (7.5 mi) from the city center is the Qiongzhu Si (Bamboo Temple) built in 639 and rebuilt in 1422 to 1428.

South Asian Gate will be Kunming's first supertall skyscraper.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The prefecture-level city of Kunming has jurisdiction over 14 subdivisions; six districts, one county-level city, four counties and three autonomous counties.

Kunming is bounded by Qujing City to the east, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture to the southeast and Yuxi City to the southwest, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture to the west and Zhaotong City to the northeast. Kunming also borders with Panzhihua prefecture level city and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province.

Kunming plans to add two new districts to its existing four urban districts (Panlong, Wuhua, Guandu, Xishan) over the next few years.

Map # Name Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2010 Census)
Area (km²) Density
(/km²)
Kunming mcp.png
City Proper
1 Panlong District 盘龙区 Pánlóng Qū 809,881 340 2,382.002
2 Wuhua District 五华区 Wǔhuá Qū 855,521 398 2,149.550
3 Guandu District 官渡区 Guāndù Qū 853,371 552 1,545.961
4 Xishan District 西山区 Xīshān Qū 753,813 791 952.987
Suburban
7 Chenggong District 呈贡区 Chénggòng Qū 310,843 541 574.571
Satellite cities and district
5 Dongchuan District 东川区 Dōngchuān Qū 271,917 1,674 162.435
6 Anning City 安宁市 Ānníng Shì 341,341 1,313 259.970
Rural
8 Jinning County 晋宁县 Jìnníng Xiàn 283,784 1,391 204.014
9 Fumin County 富民县 Fùmín Xiàn 145,554 1,030 141.314
10 Yiliang County 宜良县 Yíliáng Xiàn 419,400 1,880 223.085
11 Songming County 嵩明县 Sōngmíng Xiàn 287,095 1,442 199.095
12 Shilin Yi Autonomous County 石林彝族自治县 Shílín Yízú Zìzhìxiàn 246,220 1,777 138.559
13 Luquan Yi and Miao Autonomous County 禄劝彝族苗族自治县 Lùquàn Yízú Miáozú Zìzhìxiàn 396,404 4,378 90.544
14 Xundian Hui and Yi Autonomous County 寻甸回族彝族自治县 Xúndiàn Huízú Yízú Zìzhìxiàn 457,068 3,966 115.246

Society and culture[edit]

Leisure and entertainment[edit]

Within Kunming, the entertainment district has its focus around Kundu Square, with many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants. Eating out is the main pleasure after dark in Kunming. Food aside, one feature of less formal Yunnanese restaurants is that they often have a communal bamboo water pipe and tobacco for their customers. Nightlife has improved recently, thanks to rising incomes and tourist population. There are plenty of student bars and clubs. The city has several operatic troupes and indigenous entertainments which include huadeng, a lantern dance. Although indoor performances are lacking, there are often informal shows at the weekend outside the Workers' Cultural Hall and in Cuihu Park. There are similar shows at the Yunnan Arts Theater on Dongfeng Xi Lu. Kunming's main cinema house is on the south side of the Dongfeng Lu/Zhengyi Lu intersection. The other main multiplex, the XJS, at the junction of Wenlin Jie and Dongfeng Xi Lu.

Arts[edit]

In October 2006, artists from China, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Japan and elsewhere adopted a constitution for the newly formed International Folk Arts and Craft Union (IFACU). The stated mission of IFACU is to organize and promote cooperation among the world's artists to promote and preserve folk arts and crafts. The organization will be based in Kunming, ostensibly because of the ethnic diversity in Yunnan and the variety of folk art and crafts found throughout the province. The first IFACU general assembly is scheduled to take place in Kunming sometime in 2008.

Art galleries[edit]

  • YunArt Gallery, highlights leading and up-and-coming artists from Yunnan.[23]
  • TCG Nordica, an international art gallery and culture centre situated in the heart of the artist community at Chuang Ku/LOFT in Kunming.[24]

Language[edit]

Further information: Kunming dialect

The Kunming dialect is very similar to that of Sichuan and Guizhou but uses the third tone much less than standard Chinese. Many terms are used only in Kunming dialect, such as 板扎 meaning 'terrific'.

Cuisine[edit]

Kunming at night

Kunming's cuisine is distinctly Yunnanese and combines fresh ingredients afforded by the moderate climate with mild herbs and spices giving its cooked dishes sufficient flavour but lacking the pungency associated with food from other regions of the country. The city's climate fosters the growth of literally hundreds of species of mushroom which are consequently a predominant feature of many dishes. There are other regional Chinese cuisines, with a few upmarket restaurants serving international dishes. Back lanes running north off Dongfeng Xi Lu or Jinbi Lu have the famous stalls and restaurants where the locals offer specialties such as grilled cheese, hotpots, fried snacks rolled in chilli powder, loaves of meat-stuffed soda bread, and rich duck and chicken casseroles. The special dish of Kunming is guò qiáo mĭxiàn, a boiling, chicken soup with rice noodles under a very thin layer of oil. Raw meat and vegetables are added by the consumer to ensure the ingredients are fresh and the ingredients will be cooked in the hot soup since the cut of the raw meat and vegetables are extremely thin. The legend behind "crossing bridge noodles" involves a student studying for the imperial exam (which was given once per year). He went to study on an island a short way from his wife and village. Every day his wife would bring him food, but because of the distance (she had to cross a bridge) the food would get cold. The student's wife figured out that by layering the broth with oil, she could keep the food hot.

Some of the most famous Kunming food is as follows:

  • Over the Bridge Rice Noodles Guo qiao mi xian 过桥米线
  • Steam Potted Chicken 气锅鸡
  • Er Kuai (Rice Cake)
  • Smoked Smelly Bean Curd, a popular night stall snack 臭豆腐
  • The Eight Treasures of Yunnan, a type of stuffed cake

Sports[edit]

Every year, many Chinese and international athletes come to Kunming for high-altitude training. The city has been China's national high-elevation training base for more than 30 years. There are two major training complexes, Hongta Sports Center and Haigeng National Training Center.[25]

Hongta Sports Center was built in 2000 by one of Yunnan's (and China's) largest corporations, Hongta (Red Pagoda) cigarette company, at a cost of US$58 million. Located near Haigeng Park, the complex is mostly used by professional athletes, but it also acts as a sports club for the general public. The general public can use all of its extensive facilities. Every weekend, it hosts amateur football matches. Aside from about 10 football pitches, including one surrounded by a running track, Hongta also has a 50m swimming pool, a badminton gymnasium, tennis courts and a basketball court. It also has one of China's few ice hockey rinks, and a workout room with treadmills and weightlifting machines. There are also game rooms for air hockey; also pool tables and a basement bowling alley. The complex comes complete with a 101-room hotel and restaurant.[25]

Haigeng National Training Center is located just ten minutes away from Hongta on Dianchi (Lake Dian) near Kunming's award-winning Lakeview Golf Club and new condominium developments. This complex dates from the late70's and was built by the government specifically to specialize in high-altitude training (the Mexico City Olympics of 1968 had demonstrated the advantages of high-altitude training). It has eight basketball courts, weight rooms, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a dozen football pitches, two running tracks, a pool for swimming and one for diving. It also has a large snooker hall, a room for table tennis and a volleyball gym. Athletes, coaches and team managers stay onsite in the complex's many dormitories and hotel rooms.[25]

Golf[edit]

Golf is a major attraction in Kunming. There are four golf courses within an hour's drive of downtown. For the last six years, Spring City Golf and Lake Resort in nearby Yiliang County has reigned as the best golf course in China and Hong Kong according to US Golf Digest. In 2004, it was named Asia's best golf resort by Asian Golf Monthly.[13] It hosts the Kunming Leg of the Omega China Tour.

Kunming has attracted foreign investment in golf course development. "Spring City" Golf Resort is a US$600 million project that began as an investment led by Singapore's Keppel Land Group in 1992. Today it is not only ranked by some as China's top golf course, but also one of the top golf destinations in all of Asia. Much of this is attributable to Keppel's financial backing in addition to having golf legend Jack Nicklaus and eminent golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr design the two courses.[13]

Sport facilities[edit]

Major sports facilities include:

Media[edit]

Hong Kong China International and Dianchi National Tourist Resort will jointly invest and construct a new television and film base in Kunming. The Kunming TV, Film and New Media Industry Base (昆明影视与新媒体产业基地) or "Dream City" will be built by a joint venture created for the project with an investment of three billion yuan (US$418 million) allocated for the base's first phase, which will cover 3 km2 (1.2 sq mi). The base will feature television and film studios, shooting stages and equipment, state-of-the-art production facilities and video game production, and a film school established by Peking University and Beijing Film Academy. The whole project is expected to be completed by 2013 with a total investment of 17 billion yuan ($2.3 billion).[26]

Film festivals[edit]

  • BigScreen Festival (or "BigScreen Italia"), focuses on Chinese and Italian cinema
  • Yunnan Mulicultural Visual Festival ("Yunfest"), focuses on Chinese documentaries in Yunnan [2]
  • Kunming Anime Festival

Tourism[edit]

Panlong River

Kunming attracts domestic and foreign tourists all year round. At the center of Yunnan and as its capital, Kunming is also a transport hub for tourists heading to other parts of Yunnan such as Dali, Lijiang and Shangrila.

As of 2007, over 24 million domestic tourists visited Kunming, with 800,000 foreign tourists visiting annually. Kunming's total revenue from tourism in 2007 was 16.8 billion yuan, an increase of 8.0 percent over 2006.

In 2003, this city was elected among the top 10 best summer resort cities around the world and it was ranked as China’s top summer resort city.[27]

Kunming hosts the China International Travel Mart every two years.

Conference and exhibition venues in Kunming include the Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Center and the Yunnan Provincial Science and Technology Hall.

List of tourist attractions[edit]

Economy[edit]

Kunming industrial zone on the west coast of the Lake Dian

Kunming has 3 economic advantages over many other cities in southwest China: significant natural resources, a big local consumer market and a mild climate. Kunming's economy was ranked 12th of Chinese cities in 1992. Due to its position at the center of Yunnan, one of China's largest producers of agricultural products, minerals and hydroelectricity, Kunming is the main commercial hub for most of the province's resources.

Kunming's chief industries are copper, lead and zinc production. Its iron and steel industry has been expanded. Salt and phosphate mines around Kunming are some of the largest in China. Yunnan Copper Company Limited, based in Kunming, is one of Yunnan's largest mining corporations. From the late 1970s, Kunming's main industries also came to include food and tobacco processing and the manufacture of construction equipment and machines.

In May 1995, the State Council approved Kunming as an Open City. By the end of 1995, the city had approved 929 overseas-funded enterprises with a total investment of $2.3 billion including $1.1 billion of foreign capital. More than 40 projects each had an investment of more than $9 million.

Kunming is a center of engineering and the manufacture of machine tools, electrical machinery, equipment and automobiles (including heavy goods vehicles). It has a chemical industry, and plastics, cement works and textile factories. Its processing plants, which include tanneries, woodworking and papermaking factories, use local agricultural products. In 1997, Yunnan Tire Co. opened a tire plant in Kunming, with a capacity to produce two million tires per year.

Because of its location in the southwest of China, Kunming missed out on China's rapid economic growth in the 1990s. However, the city has recently received renewed attention, becoming an international commercial hub for South and Southeast Asia. The Kunming economic authorities are participants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), promoting trade throughout China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. Several railroads and highways have been planned to connect Kunming to areas of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, providing access to seaports.

In 2006, the Chinese government approved a 2,912 km (1,809 mi) oil pipeline to be built from the Indian Ocean coastal town of Sittwe, Myanmar to Kunming. This pipeline will carry African and Middle Eastern petroleum to China, bypassing some oil shipments through the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. The pipeline will cut oil transport time by two weeks. In addition, Kunming is also said to be the site for an oil refinery for the incoming oil.

Development zones[edit]

Kunming has two major development zones, Kunming High-tech Industrial Development Zone (biological medicine, new materials, electronic information, photoelectron, agriculture) and Kunming Economic and Technology Development Zone (mechanical equipment production, biological science and food industry, information industry, software).

Kunming Economic & Technology Development Zone
First established in 1992, Kunming Economic & Technology Development Zone is a national-level zone approved by State Council. Kunming is located in east-central Yunnan province with preferential location. After several years' development, the zone has formed its pillar industries, which include tobacco processing, machinery manufacturing, electronic information, and biotechnology.[29]
Kunming High-tech Industrial Development Zone
The Kunming High-tech Industrial Development Zone (KMHNZ), is a state-level high-tech industrial zone established in 1992 to the northwest of downtown Kunming. It is administratively part of Kunming City. It has covers an area of 9 square kilometres (3.5 sq mi). KMHNZ is located in the northwest part of Kunming city, with 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Kunming Railway Station, and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Kunming Wujiaba International Airport.[30]

Industrial parks[edit]

There are 30 key industrial parks promulgated and recognized by National Development and Reform Commission in Yunnan Province.[31]

The largest include:

  • Chenggong Industrial Park
  • Anning Industrial Park
  • Songming Yanglin Industrial Development Zone
  • Dongchuan Special Industrial Park
  • Xundian Special Industrial Park
  • Kunming Haikou Industrial Park

Statistics[edit]

For the fiscal year of 2009,[32]

  • Kunming's gross domestic product (GDP) was 180.9 billion yuan;
  • Fixed asset investment was 160.1 billion yuan;
  • Real estate investment was 36.9 billion yuan;
  • Retail sales was 86.5 billion yuan;
  • Per capita disposable income within Kunming's urban areas grew to 16,496 yuan;
  • Kunming's average farmer outside of the city earned 5,080 yuan.

Companies[edit]

As of 2008, Kunming is home to 65 of the Top 100 Enterprises in Yunnan Province. The top 100 enterprises were based on their revenues for 2007. Hongta Group, with revenues of some RMB39.88 billion for 2007 topped the list, while Hongyun Group took the third place with revenues of RMB39.23 billion. The tobacco sector remains the largest sector in the province.

Top 10

Top 10 Kunming-based companies, according to Yunnan Provincial Enterprise Association:[33]

(company; annual operating revenue; primary business)

  1. Hongta Group (红塔集团): 40,798,100,000 yuan; tobacco
  2. Yunnan Copper Group (云铜集团): 32,690,420,000 yuan; copper/nonferrous metals
  3. Hongyun Group (红云集团): 25,644,350,000 yuan; tobacco
  4. Yunnan Power Grid Co (云南电网公司): 23,299,000,000 yuan; power generation/transmission
  5. Kunming Iron & Steel Company (昆明钢铁控股有限公司): 16,539,360,000 yuan; ferrous metals
  6. Sinopec Yunnan (中石化云南石油分公司): 16,000,000,000 yuan; petroleum/petrochemicals
  7. Yuntianhua Group (云天化集团): 15,217,980,000 yuan; chemicals, fertilizer
  8. Honghe Cigarette Factory (红河卷烟总厂): 14,500,000,000 yuan; tobacco
  9. Yunnan Metallurgical Group (云南冶金集团): 14,240,180,000 yuan; non-ferrous metals
  10. Kunming Rail Bureau (昆明铁路局): 10,015,840,000 yuan; rail logistics
Financial services
Pharmaceuticals

Foreign investment[edit]

Over 2,000 foreign companies have invested in Kunming, as of 2008.

Retail and real estate[edit]

Kunming roadside newsstand

Kunming is the only major city in Yunnan province, with a population of 4.8 million people. Real wealth has been generated in the last decade through pillar industries such as hydroelectricity, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, tourism and the local property market. Once an economic backwater, the city of Kunming has emerged as a potential market for imported goods and services from around the world as well as goods produced by foreign invested enterprises. Kunming is quickly becoming one of China's most promising second-tier retail markets.

Modern retail stores have sprung up over the past four years. Several hypermarkets and supermarket chains have taken root while convenience stores are proliferating.

In 2008 Kunming municipality's per capita disposable income reached 14,482 yuan. Given the relatively low cost of living in Kunming, city residents are increasingly spending on retail goods and services. Kunming's government has begun to acknowledge the growing influence of consumer spending on local economic growth. Retail spending in 2006 totaled 70.074 billion yuan, a 23.1 percent increase over 2007.

One unique aspect of the retail scene in Kunming is that there are very few centralized shopping areas offering a wide variety of goods. This is primarily due to the city's loose zoning and the lack of an integrated development plan. While lagging behind larger cities in categories such as concentration of high-technology, Kunming has a high concentration of foreign retailers and is already home to four Carrefours, one B&Q, one Metro and three Wal-Marts. Kunming also has three Watson's outlets and a growing number of international fast food outlets such as McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut. Louis Vuitton recently opened an outlet in Kunming, one of 16 nationwide, in the luxury-focused Gingko Shopping Center in the city's center. Gingko also contains outlets for high-end goods by Salvatore Ferragamo, Chanel, Versace, Mont Blanc and Burberry. The French luxury brand Hermes chose Gingko in Kunming as the location for its first mainland retail outlet two years ago. Luxury car companies are also making their presence felt in Kunming. Big names including Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Lexus and Porsche have dealerships in the city.

In July 2006, Hong Kong-based property developer Shui On Land signed an agreement with the Kunming government in relation to a residential, business and cultural development covering 2.5 million square meters.

The area around Lake Dianchi, just southwest of the city center, is currently seeing a boom in high-end residential projects.

Import & Export Commodities Fair[edit]

The China Kunming Import & Export Commodities Fair (known as 'Kunming Fair') is a regional trade fair jointly sponsored by seven local Southeast Asian governments including Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Tibet, Chongqing and Chengdu. Kunming Fair has been successfully held annually for fourteen consecutive years. In addition to a mass of domestic buyers and over 1,000 Chinese exhibitors, each fair has attracted about 4,000 to 6,000 overseas guests from around fifty countries. The accumulated trade and investment contracts signed during the fairs are estimated to be worth about 25 billion US dollars. See also, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the main organizing body.

From 2008, China's Ministry of Commerce has participated in hosting the fair with the stated goal of increasing its scale and quality.

Flower industry[edit]

Yunnan has developed into the largest flower export base in Asia, with many Dutch experts having transferred technology to the area. The Dounan Flower Market, located in suburban Kunming, is the largest in China with daily sales of 2.5 million yuan (US$300,000) from the 2 million sprays of flowers (as of 2006). The provincial government agency, the Yunnan Flower Association, regulates the industry.[35]

Chenggong, 20 minutes drive from central Kunming and already a major source of fresh flowers, has plans to emerge as the "Flower Hub of Asia". According to the Kunming Administration Public Information Service Web, Chenggong exported 812 tons of flowers to Singapore in 2007, with trade volume of US$1,300,000.

The authorities in Kunming have formulated plans for the development of each district in Chenggong. While Kunming's administrative authorities have already moved to Chenggong, a number of key universities in Yunnan, like Yunnan University and Yunnan Normal University are also relocating to the area. With Chenggong already home to Kunming International Airport and the Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center Co., Ltd. the county has positioned itself as one of China's main flower producers.

The "Kunming International Flower Exhibition" is now held every year. [3] It is organized by the Government of Yunnan province and sponsored by Yunnan Flower Industry Office, CCPIT Yunnan branch and Yunnan EXPO Group.

Telecommunications[edit]

The city has a 2,460,000-line telephone switching system with 3,270,800 customers, averaging 57.3 phones for every 100 people.

The Yunnan Telecom Corporation Kunming Branch is a multiple high tech enterprise that is the main driver of telecommunications in Kunming. Kunming Branch currently operates a modern fixed telephone network and with more than 1,000,000 subscribers and has 2,000,000 internet users. The data network has 5,000 of Netphone dial ports and the outbound bandwidth of the Chinanet has reached 1.2G within this year. It operates the CHINAPAC, DDN, ATM/CHINA FR and the computer internet, Multimedia Communication Network, IP broad band MAN based on the ATM broadband Technology that have covered the whole city, which can provide various services such as ISDN and ADSL. All of which give a strong support to the three online roll-out projects. The Kunming Branch has built up the IP broadband communication network based on IP over DWDM mode.

Kunming plans to be blanketed with Wi-Fi connectivity by the end of 2009 with the "Kunming Wi-Fi Metropolitan Area Network project". It would deploy more than 3 thousand access points in Kunming to provide the convenience and reliability of NonStop Wireless networking.

The first phase will enable Wi-Fi access along Kunming's main ring roads, important scenic spots, the central business district and some residential areas. Phases two and three will extend coverage to the entire Kunming prefecture area.

Kunming will be issued with 3G mobile phone licenses in June 2009 with 28 other second- and third-tier Chinese mainland cities.[dated info] First-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou were issued 3G licenses in early January 2009.[36]

Logistics[edit]

As part of the overall infrastructure network, road links between Kunming and Laos will soon be completed, forming part of a transnational highway that will eventually link Yunnan with Thailand. Projects such as these and the Pan-Asian Railway—a bold project linking Kunming to Singapore via Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with a total length of 5,600 km (3,500 mi) of rail line, due for completion in the next few years—are likely to turn Kunming into a major logistics hub.

Kunming East Station is at present Yunnan province's only container handling depot, with direct links to only three provinces; Guangdong, Guizhou and Sichuan. It also has direct access to the metropolitan district of Chongqing. These lines are currently being upgraded to carry double-stacked container wagons. In addition, there is a large shortage of rail cars suited for containers and large volumes better suited to be transported in containers are still carried on flat-beds or general open wagon cars better suited to carrying bulk commodities.

In July 2006, as part of the Kunming Development Plan, construction of a comprehensive intermodal container depot located in Jiaying, Chenggong County, about 20 km (12 mi) from Kunming City, one of 18 new rail container depots planned by the Railway Ministry across the country. The engineering construction program occupies an area of 16,000 ha, with a fixed investment roughly equal to RMB449.5 million (US$55.6 million). The new depot handles 63 million tons annually.

The Jiaying Depot is connected with the new system of highways built linking Yunnan to the increasingly important markets of Southeast Asia, facilitating cheap Chinese exports to the region and granting resource-poor China greater access to the region's massive raw material resources. Yunnan has thereby become a progressively important area in the Southwest's rail logistics both in terms of national and international logistics.

Utilities[edit]

Kunming provides 1,560,000 tons of tapped water a day. Altogether 1,095,000 households are supplied with piped gas for cooking and 1,070,000 families use liquefied gas to cook. The rate of the urban gasification reached 92 percent.

Sustainable development[edit]

Kunming, because of its remote location, had been an economic backwater for much of the last three decades. That was before rapid growth in China's trade with Southeast Asia and China's domestic tourism industry in addition to Beijing's 'Go West' initiative aimed at increasing domestic and foreign investment in western China.

The strategies for economic development in Yunnan, as designed by the provincial government, can be described in short as the realization of 3 targets and the construction of 5 pillar industries. Yunnan often proudly presents itself as a "green" province with an equally "green" economy. This means importance is attached to the sustainable development of the region's bio-resources as well as the protection of its natural environment. The agricultural sector therefore gets a lot of support in the development of e.g. green or organic food, but also the production of traditional Chinese medicine, cut flowers and bio-chemicals is being encouraged.

The focus of the five pillar industries are the development of the tourism, tobacco, mineral and (hydro)power industries. Furthermore, as already mentioned, there's support for the development and improvement of green food, the horticultural sector and the biochemical industry.

Satellite image of Kunming, situated on the northern shore of Lake Dian

Twenty years ago Kunming started a strong partnership with its sister city Zürich, Switzerland to share experiences on sustainable urban development. Today, many sectors are concerned by this cooperation. The so-called "Chinagarten" (Chinese garden) is a remiscence for Zürich's technical and scientific assistance in the development of the Kunming city drinking water supply and drainage. See also: Water supply and sanitation in the People's Republic of China.

The technical cooperation between Kunming and Zürich started with a cooperation project in the field of drinking water supply. Later other sectors such as "old town protection", "sewage and waste water treatment", "city planning", "urban and regional transport planning" were added in the co-operation list.

Based on their experience, specialists from Zürich supported Kunming in the process of urban planning and development. Many Chinese specialists went to Zürich for technical visits or trainings, getting an insight into the management of an advanced modern European city. The dialogue between specialists has been an important experience for both partners, establishing a relationship of mutual trust over the years.

The cooperation has improved the water supply with the planning of modern drinking water treatment plants. It also led to a plan of protecting old buildings in the city. The solutions used in Kunming have, in the meantime, become a model in the People's Republic of China and are receiving attention beyond the provincial borders.

Eco-town[edit]

The Kunming Project[37] is located on a naturally vegetated site adjacent to the International Horticultural Expo, on the north-eastern fringes of Kunming City. The project comprises four prototype houses and a 2,000 m2 (21,528 sq ft) visitor centre on a five hectare site. In 2006 the project was completed and is the first "intelligent & green" project in mainland China. Expo INTEGER Kunming is the first eco-town in southern China, with an emphasis on sustainable lifestyle, environmental protection and intelligent technology. The project aims to provide a focal point for the improvement of housing standards and building technology in the context of China. It will develop a sustainable housing and lifestyle model appropriate for the urbanization of the western region in China.

Public transportation[edit]

Kunming traffic

Traffic congestion has been a problem for residents in recent years in Kunming. Fifty years ago, the small city only had several hundred motor vehicles. The figure increased to almost 100,000 in the mid-1970s. Since the 1980s, the city has embarked on a fast development. Road construction has not kept up to pace with the increasing amount of traffic, though several projects at expanding and connecting roads are being implemented. Currently, the city has over 1.2 million cars.

Kunming's then Vice-Mayor Li Jiang said the serious imbalance between the enormous amount of traffic and limited roads affected not only the city's economic and social development but also the residents' daily lives.

Several regulations being implemented are:

  1. Rigorous driver training including retraining the driving teachers.
  2. Training the police to enforce new and existing driving and parking regulations.
  3. Train the police to drive in a completely law abiding manner.
  4. Enforce traffic regulations on all vehicles, especially those with white license plates who routinely break laws.
  5. Develop and enforce zoning laws that force property owners to provide adequate parking for cars, scooters, bicycles and delivery vehicles.
  6. By implementing no. 5, eliminate the parking of bicycles and scooters on pedestrian sidewalks.[38]

One major co-operation results in transportation sector was the Kunming Urban Public Transportation Master Plan. Several modern bus lanes were planned according to this plan, and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) priority policy was put forward by Kunming Administration. The modern BRT can reach the carrying capacity and service level of rail traffic, but its construction and operation costs are much lower than those of rail traffic, which makes it suitable for Kunming as a medium-sized city in China.

After establishing the BRT priority policy, Kunming built its first modern bus lane in April 1999, which marked the earliest practice of BRT in China. Today, four special bus lanes have been constructed and the basic layout of a cross-grid bus lane network is already in the place.

However, starting to promote BRT can't solve all transportation problems. Compared with world-class BRT systems, Kunming's BRT system still has a long way to go in improving carrying capacity and service level, to let the public see the expected effects of public traffic priority.[citation needed]

Meanwhile, the bus lane network is to be further expanded, to make the bus lanes reach the planned length of 63 km (39 mi). To achieve this target, more high-standard bus lanes are to be built, and to improve the city's existing bus lanes' operation and management levels as well. It has been suggested[by whom?] that the priorities in promoting BRT should be put into practice the new free-transfer ticket systems and optimize the bus route network.

Kunming recently has adopted prohibiting automobiles turning left policy. However, the responses to this measure are mixed. Wang Haihui, who is from the city's transportation department, said this measure alleviated road congestion situation and reduced passengers' time spent on the buses. But Yang Qing, Professor of Urban Planning at Kunming Ligong University, who drives a car every day, complained the measure didn't have very obvious positive impact on his daily transit. How to solve the traffic jams has aroused public concerns. According to a random survey by the local television station, nearly 60 per cent of Kunmingers attribute the traffic jams to a large increase in motor vehicles. He Dongquan, Director of Transportation Program of Energy Foundation, suggests that more people should take buses instead of driving cars in order to save road space.

Kunming currently is constructing its new transportation system (Kunming Rail Transit or Kunming Metro). Construction on lines 1 and 2 officially began in May 2010, after months of delays. An elevated test section had been under construction since 2009. Lines 1 (34 km) and 2 (22 km) were scheduled to open in 2012, but with delays, it is estimated they won't open until early 2013. Construction on line 3 began in August 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2016. Construction of Line 6, which is a mainly elevated express line to the new Kunming Airport will be completed by mid-2012 with the line planned to open on 28 June 2012. The entire system consisting of 6 lines is estimated to be complete by 2018.

According to Xinhua News Agency's report, a blueprint entitled Modern New Kunming is in the making. According to this plan, Kunming will be built into a city formed by four ecological areas with specific functions, favorable living environment, and convenient transportation.

Solar energy[edit]

In July 2008, Kunming began to implement a program to transform the city's solar energy industry into a US$8.8 billion industrial base in China by 2013. Kunming receives an annual average sunshine of more than 2,400 hours. Each 1 kW PV system has the potential to generate 1500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year from solar energy.

The government plans to put in place policies (low-interest loans, tax exemption and other concessions or subsidies) and a fund to encourage private sector participation in the city's solar energy-based infrastructure development. The fund, which will be included in the municipal government's annual budget, will particularly finance LED for public lighting, solar photovoltaic projects, and the propagation of energy saving projects.

As of 2007, the Kunming Economic Committee listed about 130 solar energy enterprises in the city. Of these, 118 enterprises produce solar lamps and solar water heaters, with a combined total production value of about US$43.8 million, and 10 enterprises are engaged in solar photovoltaic cells manufacturing, with a total production value of about US$51.2 million.[39]

Suntech Power announced in December 2008 that it is jointly constructing a solar energy project with Yunnan Provincial Power Investment and other investors. The 1MW first-phase of the Shilin 66MW on-grid solar power station in Kunming began generating power on December 28, 2009. The initial phase of the 66MW project was originally scheduled to start production in first half of 2010 while the 20MW second phase and 36 MW third phase are under construction.

Transport[edit]

Kunming is situated on the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. Rail and air are the main two methods to travel to or from Kunming from outside Yunnan.

Air transport[edit]

Kunming is served by Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG), which opened at 08:00 on 28 June 2012, replacing the older international airport, which was located 4–5 km (2.5–3.1 mi) southeast of central Kunming. Changshui is projected to be China's fourth largest airport and one of the world's top 80 airports. The new airport is expected to greatly increase the city's access to countries in SE Asia and S Asia. The airport is being constructed by Yunnan Airport Group. It will be able to handle 25 million passengers yearly, compared to the current capacity of 20 million at Kunming Wujiaba International Airport, which will remain operational until the switchover in 2011. Changshui is expected to handle 38 million every year by 2020 and 65 million passengers per year in 2035.

Changshui features a 4,000 m (13,100 ft) long and 60 m (200 ft) wide runway, a 4,000 m (13,100 ft) long and 45 m (148 ft); a 550,000 m2 (5,900,000 sq ft) terminal building; a 2,800 m2 (30,000 sq ft) tower; and other supporting facilities including air traffic management and a fuel supply system. The terminal is the largest free-standing structure in the world. It looks like a bird, 1,150 m (3,770 ft) wide, 850 m (2,790 ft) meters long. The columns that support the terminal will not be regular vertical columns; they will look like waving ribbons that extend throughout the terminal. The airport is projected to cost US$3 billion and it will be partially solar powered. It was designed by the UK-based design engineering consultancy Arup.

The airport construction is part of the larger Kunming Air Hub City. The Air Hub City is planned to have about 200,000 residents. Most of its industries will be related to transport: logistics, aircraft maintenance, aviation education and technology, travel-related services, hospitality, and tourism.

Kunming has air connections with several Chinese and Southeast Asian cities. CAAC shuttle buses (¥5) serve passengers between the airport (Tuodong Lu) and the city center. Transport by taxi cost around 15 yuan and it takes about 20 minutes. Three public buses run on the route including No. 52, 67 and 78.

Airlines[edit]

The now defunct Yunnan Airlines was headquartered in Kunming until it was acquired by China Eastern Airlines. China Southwest Airlines used to operate routes to and from Kunming, until it was merged with Air China.

Other than China Eastern and Air China, Kunming Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Dragonair, JAL, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines and Thai Airways International are the other main airlines that operate out of Kunming (see also Kunming Wujiaba International Airport).

Lucky Air is a budget airline based in Kunming and operates scheduled services from Dali to Kunming and Xishuangbanna, and plans to expand to other areas of China.

Highway[edit]

Kunming's main railway station

China National Highways 108, 213 and 320 intersect in Kunming. Highways link Kunming to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, and provide Yunnan province access to seaports of Southeast Asia.

Rail[edit]

Kunming is the main rail hub of Yunnan province. The Chengdu–Kunming Railway from Sichuan, Shanghai–Kunming Railway from Guizhou, and Nanning–Kunming Railway from Guangxi converge in Kunming from the north, northeast and east. The Yunnan–Vietnam Railway runs from Kunming southeast to Hekou and Lao Cai on the Sino-Vietnamese border and then on to Hanoi. The Kunming–Yuxi Railway runs south to Yuxi, where a second rail line to Vietnam is being planned and built. To the west of Kunming, the Guangtong–Dali Railway extends off the Chengdu–Kunming Line to Dali (Xiaguan Town).

Kunming has two railway stations:

  • Kunming Railway Station is at the southern end of Beijing Xi Lu. Compared with the other railway station (North Railway Station), Kunming Railway Station services most of the trains to places to other provinces of China. Trains run north to Chengdu, southeast via Xingyi to Baise and Nanning in Guangxi, and east through Guizhou, via Liupanshui, Anshun, Guiyang, into the rest of the country. Tickets are sold in three days in advance.
  • Kunming North Railway Station (serviced by the No. 23 Bus) is on the heritage 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge Kunming–Hai Phong Railway, which runs to Hekou and Vietnam. In the past, every Friday and Sunday, a train used to depart to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam (the train from Kunming to Hekou and Hekou to Hanoi is currently not operating). It took about 16 hours to reach Hekou (a seat is ¥35, berths around ¥90), and 32 hours to Hanoi (hard sleeper lower bunk ¥175, upper bunk ¥235).

Due to the deterioration of the railway line, the long distance narrow-gauge service has been cancelled; however, as of 2012, some local narrow gauge service still operates at Kunming North Railway Station, in particular two daily trains to Shizui (石咀) Station on the western outskirts of Kunming, and to Wangjiaying (王家营) east of the city.[40]

Trains from Kunming to: Beijing (daily; 48 hr); Chengdu (3 daily; 18–21 hr); Chongqing (2 daily; 23 hr); Guangzhou (2 daily; 45 hr); Guilin (2 daily; 30 hr); Guiyang (5 daily; 12 hr); Hanoi (daily; 28 hr); Hekou (1 daily; 16 hr); Kaiyuan (2 daily; 8 hr); Nanning (daily; 20 hr); Panzhihua (3 daily; 6 hr); Shanghai (2 daily; 60 hr); Xiaguan (daily; 8 hr); Xichang (3 daily; 12 hr).

Urban rail plan[edit]

In May 2010, Kunming began construction on its first urban rail lines, line 1 and 2 of the Kunming Rail Transit. An elevated test section had been under construction since 2009. Parts of lines 1 and 2 opened in April 2014.[41] Construction on line 3 began in August 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2016.[42] The entire system consisting of 6 lines and covering a total of 162 kilometres (101 miles) is estimated to be complete by 2018.

High-speed rail plan[edit]

Construction is underway for the following high-speed railways:

  1. Kunming–Shanghai. The speed will be 350 km/h (220 mph).
  2. Kunming–Nanning. The speed will be 200 km/h (120 mph). Later the speed may be improved to 250 km/h (160 mph) or 156 miles/h.
  3. Kunming–Vietnam via Honghe Prefecture.
  4. Kunming–Singapore via Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Study or planning is being done for the following railways:

  1. Kunming–Chengdu. The speed will be 250 km/h (160 mph).
  2. Kunming–Chongqing. The speed will be 350 km/h (220 mph).
  3. Intercity rail will connect three neighboring cities: Qujing, Chuxiong, and Yuxi. The line to Chuxiong will then be extended to Dali. The speed will be 250 km/h (160 mph).
  4. Kunming to Delhi, India via Myanmar

Road and transit[edit]

Dongfeng Road, one of Kunming's main arteries.

Yunnan has built a comprehensive highway system with roads reaching almost all the major cities or towns in the region. Bus travel across the region is extensive. Buses head from Kunming to destinations such as Dali and Lijiang several times a day.

There are four major long-distance bus stations in Kunming with the South Bus Station and Railway Square Bus Station being the most primary.

  • South Bus Station faces the Kunming Railway Station in Beijing Xi Lu, with standard, luxury, express and sleeper buses departing for all over Yunnan and neighboring provinces. Buses depart here generally fall into three types: Regular, Faster, and Luxurious. A regular bus runs slower and usually the bus condition is not so good as the faster one. The standard bus to Jinghong takes 21 hours and costs ¥119, while a luxury bus takes 16 hours and costs ¥152. A luxury bus to Xiaguan (for Dali), which leaves hourly from 8am to 7pm, takes 4 hours (two less than the regular service) and costs ¥103, and one to Lijiang which takes only nine hours and costs ¥152. Other destinations covered by this include Zhongdian and Hekou (11 hours, ¥95).
  • Railway Square Bus Station is smaller than SBS and the majority of the buses depart from the station are private-run. Usually no fixed schedules are available and buses will leave when they are full. There are standard and sleeper services to Dali, Jinghong and elsewhere in Yunnan.

Leaving China by road into Vietnam and Laos is also possible through the respective crossings at Hekou in southeastern Yunnan or Bian Mao Zhan in Xishuangbanna.

The Kunming–Bangkok Expressway is the first expressway from China to Bangkok via Laos. The 1,800 km (1,100 mi) long Kunming–Bangkok Expressway begins at Kunming going down to Ban Houayxay in Laos; it then crosses the Mekong River to Chiangkhong in Thailand and eventually reaches Bangkok.

At the 14th Greater Mekong Subregion Ministerial Conference in July 2007, China, Laos and Thailand signed an agreement on the construction of a new bridge over the Mekong River to connect Chiangkhong in Thailand and Ban Houayxay in Laos, to the Kunming–Bangkok Highway. The completion of the new bridge over the Mekong River will help connect China's southeast provinces with Bangkok. With capital investments from both China and Thailand, the bridge is expected to be completed in 2011 and will be the last link in the highway system that winds through the Mekong River region.

Local transit[edit]

Public buses and taxis are the two main means of transport within the city. A metro system is currently under construction (see Kunming Metro).

Nearly two hundred public bus lines crisscross the city center, covering the whole prefecture. Prices are usually 1 yuan for a no air-conditioned and 2 yuan for air-conditioned.

Taxis are plenty with the starting price at ¥8 for the first three kilometer and ¥1.6 added for per extra km. After 10pm price rises to ¥9.6 for the first 3 km (1.9 mi) and ¥2.7 added to per extra km.

Cycling is common, and many hotels around the Kunming Railway Station provide bicycle rental services usually priced 2 yuan/hour and 10 yuan/day.

Conscious of its growing traffic issues, the city is currently renovating a pedestrian-friendly city centre.

Central Kunming[edit]

The city hangs off two main thoroughfares: Beijing Lu forms the north-south axis, passing just east of the center as it runs for 5 km (3.1 mi) between the city's two trains stations; while Dongfeng Lu crosses it halfway along, divided into east (Dongfeng Dong Lu), middle (Dongfeng Zhong Lu) and west (Dongfeng Xi Lu) sections as it cuts right through the business center. The far end runs out of the city as Renmin Xi Lu, the first leg of the Burma Road. Most of the city's famous hotels and foreign consulates lies along Dongfeng Dong Lu and the southern half of Beijing Lu, while the majority of specific landmarks and shopping district are north and west of the center around Dongfeng Xi Lu and Cuihu Park (Green Lake Park). Circling most of this is the city's first highway ring road, Huancheng Lu, though others are planned.

Military[edit]

Kunming is headquarters of the 14th Group Army of the People's Liberation Army, one of the two group armies that comprise the Chengdu Military Region responsible for the defense of China's southwestern borders with India and Myanmar, as well as security in Tibet.

Education, science and technology[edit]

Kunming remains a major educational and cultural center in the southwest region of China, with universities, medical and teacher-training colleges, technical schools, and scientific research institutes.

The city has more than 300 scientific research institutions employing 450,000 scientists and technicians. Included were 68,500 people with middle-level and senior professional titles. In 1995, the city achieved 60 research findings, of which one reached the "advanced international standard", 17 "advanced domestic standard" and 21 "advanced provincial standard".

Colleges and universities[edit]

Management training[edit]

The Shanghai-based China Europe International Business School, aka CEIBS, will launch in 2009 its Business Development Certificate Programme in Kunming. With the Business Development Certificate Programme, CEIBS and program partner Frankfurt School of Finance & Management aim to train approximately 500 Chinese managers in the coming four years, with the first phase of the program beginning in 2008 in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province. Kunming and Harbin will be the focus of the program's expansion in 2009. The program is part of a two million Euro umbrella project funded by the EU, which also includes another program that provides scholarships for MBA students from China's less-developed regions.[43]

Research institutes[edit]

  • Solar Energy Research Institute of Yunnan Normal University
  • Kunming Municipal Planning and Design Research Institute

Chinese Academy of Sciences[edit]

The Kunming Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was established in 1957. It was formerly known as Kunming Office of CAS and was extended into a branch in 1958 and renamed as Yunnan Branch of CAS. In 1962, Yunnan Branch combined with Sichuan Branch and Guizhou Branch to establish Southwest China Branch of CAS in Chengdu. In October 1978, Kunming Branch was reestablished at the approval of the State Council.

As a working department of CAS, Kunming Branch now administrates five research institutes:

At present, it has a total staff of 1,160, of which 808 are professional researchers, 7 academicians, 343 senior researchers. There are also 447 Ph.D. degree students and 530 master degree students. The retired staff is 1,090. The Branch has set up 3 national key open labs, 2 CAS key open labs, 5 key labs set up by CAS and local province, 3 engineering centers, 5 doctoral sites, 5 post doctoral stations and national famous plant herbariums and halls of wildlife specimen and had a series of updated research instruments and apparatus, computer networks and biodiversity information systems. The Branch has become an advanced comprehensive science research base in astronomy, geology and biology.

The administrative organ of Kunming Branch is organized by three functional departments (General Office, Office of Personnel and Office of Sci-tech Cooperation) and a supporting department (Network Center). The major tasks are: to construct the leadership of the five institutes and cadres reserve; to organize and facilitate the cooperation between CAS and Yunnan Province and Guizhou Province; to coordinate projects and poverty alleviation; to undertake the coordination and administration of the knowledge creation base of "Conservation and Research Development of Southwest China Biological Resources and Biodiversity". Kunming Branch has established international exchange platforms with southeast Asian countries. In 2005, a delegation from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology was invited to visit Kunming Branch and reached a cooperation intention with Kunming Branch in staff exchange, coed graduate students, research program cooperation, scientific data exchange and set up labs jointly. Kunming Branch has organized the affiliated institutes to apply for the foreign aid training program from the state.

Libraries[edit]

Health[edit]

Currently, there are 2,774 medical institutes of various kinds and 33,600 medical professionals in the City. The 170 medical service institutes based on communities cover a population of 1.86 million.[44] China Health Management Corp (CNHC) is the main private healthcare provider in the city. It has been predicted that private hospitals will provide 70 percent of total medical health care services by 2012 within Kunming City.[45]

Hospitals[edit]

  • Yunnan Provincial Red Cross Hospital and Emergency Center, is the main general hospital in Kunming.
  • Yunnan Provincial First People's Hospital
  • First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical College
  • Kunming Mental Hospital, founded in 1955, houses over 400 patients.
  • Kunming Physical Rehabilitation Center

HIV/AIDS[edit]

Main article: HIV/AIDS in Yunnan

In late 2006, China's first provincial-level HIV/AIDS treatment center was built. The US$17.5 million center is located 28 km (17 mi) from downtown Kunming. The center has six main departments: clinical treatment, technical consulting, research and development, international exchange and cooperation, clinical treatment training and psychological therapy. The center cooperates with many of the NGOs in Kunming that are focused on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. These organizations are working with provincial and local officials to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among high-risk groups and prevent crossover into lower-risk groups.

Yunnan, with a population of more than 45 million, leads China in HIV/AIDS infections: primarily spread through intravenous drug use and unsafe sex, often involving the sex industry. According to official statistics, by the end of last year Yunnan was home to more than 48,000 HIV-infected patients, 3,900 patients with AIDS and a death toll of 1,768.[46]

Public security[edit]

The headquarters of the Kunming Municipal Public Security Bureau is on Beijing Lu. Its foreign affairs department, located on Jinxing Huayuan, Jinxing Xiao Lu in the northeast of the city, handles immigration and travel visas.[47]

Drug trafficking[edit]

Kunming has a pivotal role as a major conduit point in international drug trafficking as it is the closest major Chinese city situated near the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. The Kunming Municipal Public Security Bureau Narcotics Squad is the specialist counter-narcotics police service.

Police confiscated at least three tons of drugs in Yunnan in 2005. Yunnan province seized 10 tons of illegal drugs in 2006, accounting for 80 percent of the total drugs confiscated nationwide during the period, according to Sun Dahong, then deputy director of Yunnan's provincial Public Security Bureau. The total is more than double the amount seized in the province in 2005.[48]

Heroin and methamphetamine seem to be the main targets of the 30,000+ strong anti-drug police in Yunnan. The majority of heroin coming into China from the Golden Triangle passes through Dali[citation needed] from where it is then distributed to the rest of China and internationally via China's coastal cities.

Kunming Municipal Compulsory Rehabilitation Center in Kunming is the main rehabilitation center for drug addicts, mostly recovering from heroin addiction. International drug rings have used Yunnan and Kunming to channel new synthetic drugs (like methamphetamine) as well as traditional drugs like heroin.

Opium was until recently in widespread medicinal use by many of the minority peoples of the province; however, after the Opium War the Chinese government has made growing the poppy illegal, and all but stamped out its production within the borders of Yunnan.[citation needed]

International relations[edit]

Diplomatic representation[edit]

The following countries have a diplomatic mission in Kunming:

Trade offices:

Notable residents[edit]

Notable people from Kunming include:

Diplomats:

National Southwestern Associated University:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]