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Shěnyáng (沈阳) is the largest city in Liaoning, a province in the northeast of the People's Republic of China. Beijing lies approximately 799 km to the west of Shenyang. The city, formerly known by its Manchurian name Mukden, was once the capital city of Manchuria and was the first capital of the Qing dynasty. The first Qing emperor, Nuerhachi, gave the city the name Shengjing (盛京; "prosperous capital") in honor of its status. The word 'jing' (京) means 'capital' in Chinese. Other old names include Houchen and Shenzou. This city became the focus of industrial development in the early 20th century. On September 18th, 1931, was the Mukden Incident which marked the beginning of the war between Japan and China. Shenyang would remain in Japanese control until 1945. Post war, Shenyang was developed as a central player in the large scale industrial development of Dongbei, northeast, china.

A sub-provincial city, Shenyang covers an area of 8,515 square kilometers in central and northern Liaoning province. Shenyang is the seat of government of Liaoning. The importance of this city has left many cultural status symbols. As well as many temples, parks and museums, Shenyang contains two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Shenyang imperial Palace (Listed as part of the 'Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang'); Fu Mausoleum and Zhao Mausoleum (two of the fourteen mausoleums listed under 'Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties'). In 2008, Shenyang will host the football events of the Olympic games.


The area of Shenyang has been inhabited since the Neolithic. A large number of stone artifacts, bone implement, earthenware, wooden furniture, jet product along with the remains of houses have been discovered. Of particular note is a wooden carving of a bird. These are know as the Xinle relics. They date to around 7000 years ago. The first city on this site was Hou city; founded as a garrison town for the northeastern borders in 300 B.C. under the rule of Qin Kai. This was the time known as the Warring States period. The city grew steadily but was overshadowed by nearby Liaoyang, which was the administrative center for the region.

In the 17th century, Nurachi unified several tribes of the northeast fringes of china, creating the ethnic group of the Manchus. In 1616, Nurachi made Hetu Ala (western of Xinbin county, Liaoning) his capital and founded the Great Jin or otherwise known, Late Jin Empire. The Ming Emperor set out to destroy this fledgling state. In 1619, the Ming sent 200,000 troops to attack Hetu Ala. The city of Shenyang was to be the headquarters for this military campaign. In comparison, the Late Jin had only 70,000 soldiers. The Ming made the mistake of splitting their army to attack form four directions. Nurachi attacked and defeated each of the Ming divisions in turn, the last division fleeing without fighting. This was the Battle of Sarhu. Narachi continued on the offencive and by 1621 he had captured over 70 cities including Liaoyang and Shenyang. The capital of the Late Jin was moved to Liaoyang just one month after the cities capture. A new palace, sited just outside the Ming city, called Dongjing (East Capital) was started. However, the building work was not yet complete when in 1625, Nurachi moved his capital yet again to Shenyang. Being some 100km north of Liaoyang, he claimed Shenyang had geographical advantages as a center form which to continue attacks on Ming China. Shenyang remained the capital as the Late Jin went on to conquer the whole of Ming China. Thus making Nurachi the first Emperor or the Chinese Qing dynasty. In 1644, he moved his capital form Shenyang to Beijing. The city of Shenyang continued to have special significance to the Qing Emperors. The first three Emperors of the Qing dynasty have their tombs in Liaoning, two of which are in Shenyang. The Qing Emperors would visit Shenyang regularly to pay homage to their ancestors. During their visits they would live in the Imperial Palace of Shenyang.

The tail end of the 19th century would see the beginning of troubled times for China. Liaoning became the focus of foreign attention and Shenyang, as the principal city of Liaoning, was a primary target. The Qing dynasty had failed to keep up with developments in other countries. The industrial revolution was passing China by. Outside powers such as Russia, Japan, France, Germany and Britain saw opportunities in China's problems. The Sino-Japanese war in 1894-95 went badly wrong for China. The Liaodong peninsula was captured by Japan and at the end of the war, Liaodong was ceded, along with Taiwan and Penghu Islands, to the Japanese. However, France, Germany and Russia forced Japan's hand and Liaodong was returned to China. The concession of Dalian and Port Arthur (Lushun) was given to Russia by the Chinese government. Russia was quick to make use of it's new port. Railway lines were build across Liaoning to connect Dalian to the north and east. Shenyang was a natural crossing point for these new communication lines. This ensured Shenyang would remain the key to the northeast of China. In a attempt to compete with the foreigners, the late Qing dynasty tried to develop several cities itself. Shenyang became the home to the Northeast China Military Academy, an Electric light factory, an Observatory and a Mint. They also created Wanquan park in Shenyang around this time.

The Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 provided Russia with an excuse to occupy Northeast China. Several years of diplomatic negotiations between Russia and Japan over the land of Northeast China and Korea lead to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904. The Japanese blockaded Dalian. The fighting over Liaodong saw both sides put a total of over one million soldiers into the area. the war ended on September 5th, 1905 with Liaodong under Japanese control. The collapse of the Qing dynasty saw more turmoil for the northeast of China. Warlords setup their own states and foreign powers spread their influence.

September 18th, 1931 is a date that China, and in particular Shenyang, will never forget. The exact time of this incident, 10:20pm, is marked annually with the sounding of air raid sirens in Shenyang and other cites of China. On this date at that time an explosion blew up the Liutiaohu Railway in Shenyang. This was part of the Manchuria Railway. The Japanese, who had set off the explosion themselves, accused the Chinese army and used the incident as a pretext to attack the Barracks of the Chinese army near Shenyang. The Chinese army was under orders or non-resistance to the Japanese and so retreated. Shenyang was captured by the Japanese within two days. Japan went on to continue it's attack on China, taking all of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang in just four months. This 9-18 event is taken to mark the beginning of Japan's occupation of China which would continue until the end of the Second World War in 1945. A museum telling the story of the incident, and the wars that followed, has been build on the site where the Barracks once stood, near to Shenyang South railway station.

During the 1930's, the Japanese developed upon Liaoning's natural resources. The Japanese run Manchuria Railway Co. developed new industrial zone in Shenyang to the West of the railway line. What is now known as Shenyang's Tiexi (Area west). By 1939, this area of Shenyang had grown to five times its original size with 189 Japanese businesses operating form Tiexi. Just one year later, the investment had expanded even further to 233 businesses. However the Japanese control was to end in 1945. They had been losing ground to the Americans in the Pacific. As the Americans dropped their Atom bomb on Hiroshima, the Russians launched their Manchurian campaign, freeing the Northeast of China form Japanese rule.

Peace was short lived. With the end of the world war, a new civil war loomed between the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) and the communist Red Army or People's Liberation Army. On November 2nd, 1948, Shenyang was liberated by the PLA during the Liaoshen Campaign.

After the war, Shenyang was set out to become an industrial center. A large number of new heavy industries were developed producing machine tools, mining equipment and cars. Aviation is also a large employer with the Liming Aviation Engine Group and the Shenfei (Shenyang Aircraft) Group. The Tiexi district, built up by Japan, remains a center for today's industry. Of the 99 large to mediums sized state enterprises in Shenyang, 90 are sited in Tiexi. This heavy industry did not come without a cost. Shenyang is perceived as a dirty and polluted city; something the city is now trying to slowly change. 2006 saw Shenyang hosting an International Horticultural Exposition. Shenyang also has the privilege of staging the football events for the 2008 Olympic Games alongside Beijing.