Nanchang, literally translated "Southern
Prosperity", the capital city of Jiangxi province
is a productive area, a part of the flat, fertile
Gan Jiang River Basin that has been populated
since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Anciently,
Nanchang was most famous for its merchants, alchemists
and tea. It was one of the key transit stations
for porcelain, from the ancient town of Jingdezhen
to the northeast, that so impressed the European
world of the nineteenth century. The city remains
an important farming area for grains, edible-oil,
meat, milk, aquatic products (from the river and
the nearby Poyang Lake) and vegetables.
It was the early twentieth century,
however, that was to bring the city its present
fame. The turbulent years of the Republic of China
Period (1911-1950) were to come to a head for
the emerging communist party in 1927, when Chiang
Kaishek once again broke off from his "United
Front" (against Japanese oppression). He purged
Communists from the Nationalist Party and massacred
suspected red members in a number of cities, including
the Nanchang Commune in April, 1927.
Two members of the Nationalist army
and renowned communists, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De,
quartered in an old hotel, staged an uprising
on August 1st, 1927 with a force of 30,000 (the
first, fully organized People's Liberation Army),
taking Nanchang after a five hour street battle.
The troops lasted for three days until they were
forced to flee, making their way to a remote mountain,
Jinggangshan, to join a little known band of troops
headed by a young Hunanese called Mao Zedong.
The Jinggangshan base area, also known as the
Jiangxi Soviet, is now a resort with some beautiful
The city itself is now mainly an area
that is used by travelers as a transit point on
the way to the more interesting areas of Jinggangshan,
Lushan, and Jingdezhen. Although mostly just another
large, concrete Chinese metropolis, Nanchang has
a few charms, mainly in its night markets, back
alleys and grotesquely appealing Soviet architecture.
The population of around three and a half million
is now mostly involved in continuing the city's
role as the economic, political, scientific and
technical center of Jiangxi.