Location of Shifang within Sichuan, China
|City seat||Fangting Sub-district(方亭街道)|
|• Total||863 km2 (333 sq mi)|
|• Density||500/km2 (1,300/sq mi)|
|Time zone||China Standard (UTC+8)|
Shifang (Chinese: 什邡; pinyin: Shífāng) is a county-level city in Sichuan, China under the municipal administration of Deyang. It is located about 50 km from Chengdu. It has an area of 863 km² and a population of 430,000 in 2004.
Shifang city has a history stretching back 2,209 years. It suffered heavy damage during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The city was also the scene of a large-scale environmental protest against a copper smelting plant in July 2012.
History and culture
The first recorded administrative creation in the current location of Shifang was a tiny kingdom named Zhifang (Chinese: 汁方国; pinyin: Zhīfāngguó) in 201 BC, roughly in parallel with the foundation of the Western Han dynasty by Emperor Gaozu. (Zhifang and Shifang were identical in ancient times.) Emperor Wu conquered the area in 111 BC and placed it under Han rule. In 4 AD, Wang Mang who briefly seized power changed Zhifang to Meixin (Chinese: 美信; pinyin: Měixìn) county. Emperor Guangwu of Han changed Meixin to Zhifang (Chinese: 汁邡; pinyin: Zhīfāng) county in 25 AD (汁邡 was also identical to 汁方 in ancient times.)
The current name Shifang (Chinese: 什邡; pinyin: Shīfāng) was first adopted in 221 AD during Shu Han. During the reign of Northern Zhou, Shifang was first renamed Fangting (Chinese: 方亭; pinyin: Fāngtīng) or Fangning (Chinese: 方宁; pinyin: Fāngnīng) in 557, and later merged into Luo county (Chinese: 雒; pinyin: Luò) somewhere between 566 and 576. It was not until the foundation of Tang dynasty when Shifang was reconstituted as a county in 619.
Shifang county had since been maintained until 1995, when the People's Republic of China changed its status to a county-level city, delegated to the municipality of Deyang.
Claim to Yu the Great
Amongst tourism and commercial promotions, Shifang made a late entry into the steamed claim war for Yu the Great's birthplace. Although this claim is probably more commercial than historical, Shifang was part of West Qiang (Chinese: 西羌) that some ancient records accredited as Yu's birthplace, just like the other three locations in Sichuan, namely Beichuan, Wenchuan, and Dujiangyan, that raised similar claims. Many places in other parts of China have made similar claims.
Other cultural claims
Li Bing（李冰,306 BCE – 251 BCE, a famous water conservancy expert during the Qin Dynasty, lived and worked in the city. In addition many historians believe that Li Bing was born in Shifang.Mazu Daoyi (馬祖道一) (709 CE–788 CE), a master of the Chinese Ch'an Buddhist lineage, was born in Mazu Town of Shifang.
Great Sichuan Earthquake
Also like the other three counties and towns claiming to be the birthplace of Yu the Great, Shifang is one of the most severely hit cities following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake with at least 5924 death tolls. 13 school buildings totally collapsed in Hongbai Town, Yinghua Town, Luoshui Town, Jiandi Town, Bajiao Town etc., and dozens of schools impaired with 550 students and 12 teachers as death tolls.
Shifang City consecutively maintained the second place of the "top ten counties" of Sichuan Province (四川省经济综合实力十强县)from 1995 to 2007， and its GDP was 12.7 billion RMB in 2007 .It was rated as one of the "100 Most Rewarding to Investment small and medium-sized city of China" (全国最具投资潜力中小城市百强). Besides, Shifang was named as "Township of the Chinese Mineral Water" (中国矿泉水之乡) Shifang City was also considered "City of Phosphorite" (磷矿城) because of rich phosphate rock and thriving phosphate chemical there. It has a nickname of "Bright Pearl of West Sichuan" (川西明珠).
As a base for cigar production, the city is nicknamed the "Township of the Chinese Cigar" (中国雪茄之乡). The history of cigars in Shifang stretches back 400 years. During the reign of the Guangxu Emperor, the city's cigars were on the list of tributes to his court, and in the 1950s Shifang supplied cigars to Mao Zedong and other leaders. The cigar industry is undergoing a revival with an investment of €85 million by China Tobacco Chuanyu Industrial Corporation, brand owner of Great Wall Cigars, in partnership with Dutch cigar maker Agio, in a cigar complex that is expected to be finished by 2013, and will churn out 2 billion cigars a year.
A $1.64 billion copper and molybdenum processing plant is planned by the HTC for the Shifang Economic Development Zone. The project has become controversial, due to environmental reasons. The project further provoked a demonstration of local residents demanding cancellation of the project on 2 July 2012. After violent clashes between the public and the police and nationwide campaigns on the Internet, the project was finally dropped.
Beijing Municipality will do coordinated support with Shifang City(北京市对口支援什邡市), and consider to assist a Capital Industry Park of 10 km² in Luoshui Town. The road which will link the Chengdu-Mianyang Expressway and Shifang City will be completed in 2008. In addition, a new Chengdu-Shifang-Mianyang Expressway and the Chengdu-Lanzhou High-speed Railway, which will pass through Shifang, are scheduled to complete around 2011,and will make it possible to travel from Chengdu to Shifang in 30 minutes. With the leadership of Chinese government and support of international community, the government of Shifang City plans to complete reconstruction until 2011, make GDP recover to same of 2007 until 2013, and make the city to be a modernized city until 2018.
Places of Interest
- YingHua Mountain(蓥华山)
- Western Surprise Happy Hollow(西部惊奇欢乐谷)
- LuoHan Temple(罗汉寺)
- Li Bing Cenotaph(李冰陵,衣冠冢)
- LongJu Temple(什邡龙居寺)
- Shifang Salted Duck(什邡板鸭)
- Hongbai Dried Beancurd(红白豆腐干)
- Shifang Rice-noodle(什邡米粉)
- Fangting (方亭街道)
- Zaojiao (皂角街道)
- Yuanshi (元石镇)
- Huilan (回澜镇)
- Luoshui (洛水镇)
- Hefeng (禾丰镇)
- Shuangsheng (双盛镇)
- Mazu (马祖镇)
- Yinfeng (隐丰镇)
- Majing (马井镇)
- Yinghua (蓥华镇)
- Nanquan (南泉镇)
- Jiandi (湔氐镇)
- Hongbai (红白镇)
- Bajiao (八角镇)
- Shigu (师古镇)
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- "Mysterious Dujiangyan".Show China.2007-08-17(Chinese)
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- "City of phosphorite" Sohu.com.2008-06-24(Chinese)
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- "Close but no cigar," April 20, 2010, China Economic Review
- HTC shares of big investment to be launched tens of billions of deep processing of molybdenum copper, 22 November 2010
- Sichuan Protest Turns Violent, 2012-07-02
- "Planned China Metals Plant Scrapped". Wall Street Journal. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- "Beijing Municipality will do coordinated support with Shifang City".sohu.com.2008-05-28.(Chinese)
- "Chengdu-Shifang-Mianyang Expressway is scheduled to complete in 3 years".People.com.cn.2008-06-23.(Chinese)
- "Shifang plans to completely rebuild in 3 years".Sohu.com.2008-06-23.(Chinese)