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Chengdu, an Ancient and Modern City (III)

Liu Bei Sets Up Shu kingdom

Towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Yellow Turbans Uprising broke out, the warlords’ tangled warfare occurred one after another and the Central Plains turned to be a place like a huge slaughterhouse. Liu Bei and Sun Quan allied to launch a battle in Chi Bi area (red cliffs) against Cao Cao and his troops. Finally, the allied army gloriously defeated Cao Cao’s troops, and the consequence of the battle brought forth a trisection pattern of which the three kingdoms came into being. In A.D. 221, Liu Bei ascended the throne in Chengdu. He used Zhang Wu to be his kingdom’s title, and in history this regime is called Shu Han Kingdom. In Chengdu Zhuge Liang, the premier of the kingdom assisted Liu Bei in governing the kingdom, carried out strict and impartial laws and policies, developed agriculture and maintained the kingdom stable. After Liu Bei died, Liu Shan ascended the throne. Zhuge Liang continued to assist the new emperor and spared no effort in the performance of his duty. Kingdom Shu Han lasted 43 years and was finally destroyed by the Wei Kingdom.

Li Xiong's Rule

In the Western Jin Dynasty, political corruptions were serious and war chaos was frequent. Li Te of the Di nationality united refugees, fighting all the way into Chengdu from Chou Chi of Gansu. In 303 A.D. he established his regime by the name of “Cheng” and used “Jian Chu to be his reign title. After his death, his son Li Xiong proclaimed himself emperor in Chengdu in 304 A.D. He used “Jian Xin” to be his reign title and kept “Cheng” as his regime’s name. Under Li Xiong’s leadership, a bumper grain harvest happened every year; the poverty-stricken or helpless people came far and near to Shu and sought refuge; and ethnic nationalities around gradually submitted to his authority. Being in power for 30 years, Li Te built schools and hunted for men of wisdom and valor. Meanwhile, the taxes he collected were the lowest, compared with that in other places across the country; there were very few forced labors from non-governmental circles; there were almost no convicts in prisons. At that time when turmoil and war chaos frequently occurred elsewhere in the country, the situation in Chengdu remained peaceful and everything was in good order. After Li Xiong's death, Li Shou succeeded to the throne. He changed his reign title to Han, and so his regime is called “Cheng Han” in history. This regime lasted for 41 years before it was destroyed by Hen Wen from the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

Two Emperors Take Refuge in Chengdu

In 755 A.D. in the Tang Dynasty, An Lushan staged an armed rebellion and the capital was in imminent danger. Premier Yang Guozhong suggested that Tang Emperor Xuanzong come and take refuge in Chengdu. Yang Guozhong was the highest-ranking imperial concubine Lady Yang's male cousin, and he himself also served as the military commander in charge of western Sichuan. In the following spring, the emperor arrived in Chengdu with the escort of 24 maids from the imperial palace and over 1300 soldiers. The emperor lived in Chengdu at all times, and he didn’t return to the capital Chang’an until the winter of the following year.

In the winter of A.D 880, the insurrectionary army led by Huang Chao closed in on the capital of Chang’an. Tang Emperor Xi Zong fled in panic. Cheng Jinxuan, the military commander in charge of western Sichuan, met the emperor and escorted him to Chengdu for refuge. In the spring of the following year, Emperor Xi Zong arrived in Chengdu. The emperor remained in Chengdu and didn’t depart for Chang’an until the first month of the first year of the Tian Qi Period in 885 A.D.

Madam Huan Hhua Defends Chengdu

In 768 A.D during the Tang Dynasty, Cui Lin who served as Chengdu magistrate and the military commander in charge of western Sichuan left for Chang’an to have an audience with the emperor. Yang Zilin, the Luzhou military commander, took the advantage of Cui Lin's absence to make a raid upon Chengdu. Madam Huan Hua, Cui Lin's wife, made a courageous decision. She donated her family properties to recruit strong-bodied men, and with the help of torrential rain Madam Huan Hua herself led the recruited men and defeated Yang Zilin's troops. Her success guaranteed the safety of people and their families in the city. Accordingly the royal court conferred on her the title of Ji Guo Madam; local people in Chengdu deified her as a guardian goddess and built a Madam Huan Hua Temple by the Huan Hua River. Her birthday occurred on April 19 of the Chinese lunar calendar. On that day each year officials and common people would go to the temple where they would burn incense and pay their respect to Madam Huan Hua. This activity continued in the Song Dynasty and it turned to be a grand massive “roaming” activity, which is called “the massive swimming in the river” in history.

Former Shu and Later Shu

In A.D 908, Wang Jian proclaimed himself emperor in Chengdu after he was informed that Zhu Wen had taken by force the power of the Tang Dynasty. Wang Jian changed his reign title to Yuan Wu, and his regime is called Former Shu in history. In the war chaos period of the Five Dynasties, Wang Jian carried out the policy of protecting his region’s territory and bringing peace and stability to people. Exiled gentry and eunuchs of the former Tang Court constantly came to Chengdu for shelter. This made Former Shu became a cultural oasis. After Wang Jian’s death, the successor was Wang Yan who lived a life devoted chiefly to the pursuit of pleasure. As a result, his regime collapsed at the first blow by the army from the Later Tang. So the Former Shu that lasted 17 years disappeared from the political arena.

In less than ten years, Meng Zhixiang, who was assigned by the Later Tang to serve as Chengdu military commander in charge of western Sichuan, proclaimed himself emperor in 934. He changed his reign title to Ming De, and his regime is called Later Shu in history. Meng died of illness in the second year after his proclamation. His son Meng Chang succeeded to the throne. He continued adhering to the policy of protecting his region’s territory and bringing peace and stability to people. Meanwhile, he promoted culture and attached importance to education. Under the situation of which the traditional literature had been devastated, the Later Shu government consumed eight years in carving ten classics on steles. Historically this standard carved edition is called “The Meng Shu Stone Classics,” and the carving has created a splendid page in the history of Chinese culture. The Later Shu lasted for 31 years before it was destroyed by the Song Dynasty.

An Uprising by Wang Xiaobo and Li Shun

In 993 during the Song Dynasty, a peasant uprising led by Wang Xiaobo and Li Shun broke out in Yi Zhou area (present-day Chengdu). After Wang Xiaobo’s death, Li Shun led the insurrectionary army, captured Chengdu for a time and established a regime. Li Shun used Da Shu to be his regime’s official name and Ying Yun to be his reign title. The uprising was finally suppressed by the Song troops, but it remains brilliant in history for it clearly put forward for the first time the slogan of average fortune between the rich and the poor.

Ming Yuzhen Occupies Chengdu

Towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Red Turban Peasant Uprising occurred. One of the army branches, led by Ming Yuzhen, came to attack Sichuan. In1360, Ming Yuzhen dispatched troops to seize Chengdu by surprise. In May,1362, he conquered Chengdu and proclaimed himself Long Shu King, and later he proclaimed himself emperor in Chongqing. He used Da Xia (Grand Xia) to be his regime’s official name and Tian Tong (heaven unity) to mark the first year of his reign. Chengdu became Ming Yuzhen’s second capita.

Zhang Xianzhong Occupies Chengdu

In November, 1644, Zhang Xianzhong and his peasant insurrectionary army conquered Chengdu where he soon founded the Da Xi Regime. He proclaimed himself emperor and named his reign title Da Shun(grand smooth). However, he hadn’t done many practical things that could bring peace and stability to people. Two years later, the Qing army entered Sichuan. Zhang Xianzhong decided to abandon Chengdu and moved his troops northwards. When he withdrew, he turned the Chengdu territory into a scorched land.

The Foundation of Zun Jing Academy

In 1874 in the Qing Dynasty, with a suggestion presented by Xue Huan and 15 gentries, Zhang Zidong, the head of Sichuan Department of Education, founded the Zun Jing Academy (a school of classical Learning) at the former site of the Shi Xi Monastery located in the western section of Chengdu’s Wen Miao Street. Within fewer than three decades, the academy had trained a large number of personages who later exerted a far-reaching influence in the history of modern China. Meanwhile, the academy promoted the cultural development and its vigorous growth in modern Sichuan. In 1903, the academy was renamed as Sichuan Higher Education School, the predecessor of Sichuan University.

The Foundation of Sichuan Machinery Bureau

In 1877 in the Qing Dynasty, Din Baozhen, Sichuan governor-general, founded Sichuan Machine Bureau to make arms, and the bureau was located in the area across the Gong Bei Bridge and Xia lian Pond. This indicated the beginning of the foreign-style factories to be built in Chengdu, and Chengdu's economy in the late Qing Dynasty was moving towards modern times. In 1905, Xi Liang, Sichuan governor-general, built another arsenal outside the Eastern Gate. It was called Sichuan Munitions Factory, which was the largest machinery factory in the first half of 20th century and the predecessor of the present-day Nan Guan Machinery Factory.

The Movement of Protecting the Railway Ownership in Sichuan

On the Late stage of the Qing Dynasty, the ownership of the Sichuan-Hankou Railway belonged to businessmen. However, in 1911, the Qing government announced the state-run railway policy and at the same time signed a “loan contract” with bank groups from the four countries that were Britain, the United States, France and Germany. The Qing government transactions totally exposed his conspiracy of taking away the railway fund and selling the railway ownership. In June gentries and merchants in Chengdu set up the Railway Protection Comrade Committee. They pledged their lives to “break the contract and protect the railway ownership.” The railway protection movement expanded rapidly from Chengdu to the whole province. In September, Zhao Erfeng, Sichuan governor-general, arrested Pu Dianjun, Luo Lun, Zhang Lan and other committee members. Meanwhile, he ordered to massacre petition people and made the “Chengdu Murder Case.” The Railway Protection Comrade army near Chengdu rose in rebellion and besieged Chengdu. All the Chinese Revolutionary League members in Sichuan took this opportunity to launch an armed uprising, which turned to the blasting fuse of the Revolution of 1911.

The Base of the Revival of Nationhood

During the War of Resistance Against Japan, the total number of soldiers, who were sent from Sichuan to battlefields or to the supply of the Chinese army, reached 3,400,000 persons. Of them, more than 640,000 persons were killed, wounded, or gone missing, and this number accounted for 20% of the national total officers and soldiers’ casualties. Many of them were the relatives of local people in Chengdu, including Wang Mingzhang, Li Jiayu and Xu Guozhang from Chengdu. The three men were military generals who scarified themselves in battlefields. Chengdu suffered heavy losses from more than 480 Japanese aircraft bombings. Under such a situation, people in Chengdu still spared no effort to provide sources of troops, labor force and finance for the purpose of airport constructions and support of front-line battles. All these activities have been recorded in history for these made Chengdu become a world-renowned important rear base during the War of Resistance Against Japan. Meanwhile, Chengdu was honored as “The Base of the Revival of Nationhood.”

Liberation of Chengdu

After the victory of the War of Resistance against Japan, the KMT and CPC held a “Peace Talk,” but it soon broke down, and then the Third Revolutionary Civil War broke out. In the winter of 1949, the People's Liberation Army marched into Southwest China. On December 9, Xikang and Yunnan provinces declared their uprisings. The next day after the declaration, Chiang Kai-shek, who was in Chengdu disposing a “West Sichuan Decisive Battle,” flew in a rush to Taiwan. Immediately two corps under the PLA Second Field Army marched forward towards Chengdu and started the Chengdu Battle. On December 27, the battle ended and Chengdu was liberated. The PLA corps wiped out part of 300,000 Kuomintang regular troops positioned in Chengdu while the greater part of them started an uprising. On December 30, the PLA army held a grand Chengdu-city-entry ceremony.

The foundation of people's government

On January 5, 1950, with the approval of the central government, Chengdu People's Government declared its establishment. Its location was in the Du Yuan Street. The first appointed mayor was Zhou Shidi, and vice mayors included Yian Xiufeng and Li Zonglin. In July, 1950, the Central Government Administrative Council appointed Li Zonglin as the city mayor. Vice mayors were Mi Jianshu and Li Jieren.