Sichuan: free travel! (long article)

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Author: lukewarm source: official account: lukewarm studio has been authorized to reprint



He said:

“During the Spring Festival of 1966, we suddenly got an order to go to a place called ferry.

I grew up in Northeast China when I was a child. When I was 10 years old, I went to Wuhan with my parents. After graduating from junior high school, I studied in the electrician class of Wuhan Technical School for two and a half years. Suddenly, I graduated early and had to be assigned. That year, I was only 19 years old. My mother steamed 12 flower rolls for me to eat on the road and gave me 20 yuan for living expenses.

In fact, we didn’t spend much money on the way. On March 14, some Jiefang trucks mixed with people and goods came to take us to Hankou railway station, got on the train, and arrived in Anshun, Guizhou Province three days later. There was no access in front of us. We lived in Anshun for three days. It was a Miao area, belonging to short skirt Miao, and the skirt was very short. When we went to the market, women carried the burden, and men brought their children at home.

Three days later, we got on the bus and continued on our way. In the middle, we passed Huangguoshu waterfall, which gave us a rest for an hour. Everyone took photos in front of the waterfall, took photos, and then sent them home by the people in the private photo studio. The bus took us to a place with narrow gauge trains. We took the bus all the way to Kunming, and finally from Kunming to the ferry.

At that time, with the Jinsha River as the boundary, the north of the river belonged to Liangshan, Sichuan, and the south of the river belonged to Chuxiong, Yunnan. The reason why it was called ferry was that it was a confidential unit. The passing trains did not pass through the urban area, and no one outside knew it, so it was very hidden.

We were all very happy at that time. We came in singing all the way. We were very happy because we left school and our parents, and we had an economic income, which could reduce the burden on our families. So we were all very happy, singing and dancing to the ferry. “

He also said:

“At that time, we built the ferry, which was later Panzhihua. We were completely isolated from the world. We went to Kunming for a trip, kaixie Fangpai car walked on the rotten Road, went for three days, returned for three days, and it took six days to go back and forth. I went back to Wuhan to visit my relatives, and it took half a month to go back and forth on the road. In rainy days, the road was rotten, the vegetable car couldn’t come back, and we often couldn’t eat fresh vegetables. We could only eat dried vegetables, tofu, kelp, and occasionally bacon. The water used was mainly the water in the Jinsha River, At that level, it was still clear that when it came to the flood season, all the water pumped up was muddy water, which was useless at all.

At that time, we often said: first, we were afraid of leprosy, second, we were afraid of wolves, third, we were afraid of cold shots from bad people, and fourth, we were afraid of crossing the Jinsha River. We said that there were leprosy patients in that area, which were easy to infect leprosy, wolves in the mountains, and we were afraid of Kuomintang spies. When crossing the Jinsha River, there were water cooling, many stones, and we had to be careful of earthquakes and landslides. Now no one knows these hardships, only those we had experienced at the beginning. “

On the evening of April 23, 2022, in an apartment building in Renhe District, Panzhihua City, I saw an old man Xie Chunyi in his seventies. He had a long gray beard and was leaning on crutches. His voice was loud and his spirit was hale and hearty. Speaking of the past more than 50 years ago, I could see clearly, and I remembered every detail clearly.


The reason why Panzhihua can become a city from a barren village in the southwest is that there are mines here.

In June, 1940, Tang Kecheng, who graduated from the Department of geology of Central University, was entrusted by Chuankang copper industry to conduct a coal field survey in Yanbian County, Xikang province. When returning to Huili from Yanbian, he saw a large amount of iron particles and iron ore outcrops in the valley when passing by Panzhihua, so he stayed there for more than ten days, drew a mine map, and wrote a brief report on the iron ore area in daomakan, Panzhihua, Yanbian County, Xikang province, This brief is called the first systematic geological report of Panzhihua, so the discovery of Panzhihua was fixed in June, 1940.

Tang Kecheng’s luck was quite good. Three months later, in September 1940, Liu Zhixiang and Chang Longqing, who also worked in geology, found magnetite and iron ore outcrops when walking in the local farmer’s home in sulfur Valley, Panzhihua. But these two brothers happened to be three months late, and the right of historical discovery was finally ceded to Tang Kecheng.

In August 1940, the Resources Committee of the Ministry of economy of the Republic of China established the Preparatory Office of Xikang iron and steel plant to build two 10 ton iron smelting furnaces in Panzhihua. However, due to poor transportation and high development costs, it was impossible to do so. The preparatory office was cancelled in 1945, and the development of Panzhihua has been delayed there.

The Republic of China cannot be established, but new China can be established.

After obtaining 156 industrial projects from the Soviet Union through the war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea, China has stepped from an agricultural country to an industrial country, and is in urgent need of a large amount of steel to build the country. Panzhihua Iron Mine can solve the urgent need.

Panzhihua was a rare area of high-quality resources in China at that time. For this reason, 13 central ministries and commissions concentrated on Panzhihua. In 1965, more than 50000 workers from 10 ministries and commissions of the State Council gathered here from all over the country. The Central Military Commission transferred five railway divisions and expanded them to 180000 people to build the Chengdu Kunming railway, opening a transportation line for Panzhihua.

After I arrived in Sichuan, the first person I met was a Panzhihua man who worked in Chengdu. According to him, Panzhihua is a particularly strange place. All the people in the bus company are from Tianjin, all the people in Shandong in the road and Bridge Bureau, all the court cadres and school teachers are from Shanghai, mixed with the lifestyles of Yunnan, Sichuan, northeast and Hubei. The bus speaks from south to north, and all the dialects converge, which is very lively.

The complexity of personnel is the result of the transfer of ten ministries and commissions of the State Council.

In November 1965, Deng Xiaoping came to the third line of Southwest China and determined the construction pattern of “two points and one line”: the coal from Liupanshui was transported to Panzhihua, the steel refined from Panzhihua was transported to Chongqing, and the machinery from Chongqing was transported to Panzhihua and Liupanshui. Panzhihua is just located in the central link of the two points and one line.

The next year, a large number of construction teams arrived in Panzhihua and began to repair bridges and pave roads to build infrastructure for the steel plant. More than 100000 people camped here. Xie Chunyi, 19, who came from Wuhan, was one of 100000 at that time.

Xie Chunyi said, “we didn’t have a house to live in at that time. We all lived in reed mat sheds.”

When I was investigating in Hubei, I also heard Shiyan people say that when the second automobile factory was built, the workers also lived in this kind of humble reed mat shed.

The reed mat shed is a shelter made of bamboo poles and trunks with thick bowl mouths, walls made of reed mats, and linoleum on the roof.



“The sound insulation of that kind of shed is very poor. At night, the couple of others make out and can hear each other.” When Xie Chunyi said this, he couldn’t help laughing. “It wasn’t until the 1970s that everyone lived in cement plank houses.”

After living in a cement house for five or six years, I lived in a brick house.


Houses built in the 1970s-1980s in Panzhihua

Xie Chunyi and his colleagues built bridges and paved roads here for the construction of the iron and steel company. They still have fresh memories of the environment when the wasteland was opened up. Among them, the lion rock explosion is the most unforgettable.

Zhujiabaobao iron mine in Panzhihua is locally referred to as “Zhukuang”. There are five hills in the whole mine. The main mine is lion mountain, and the ore accounts for 83% of the total reserves. However, to build an open-pit mine, 120 meters must be stripped and 40million cubic meters of rock must be blasted with explosives.

More than 30000 people spent three months digging 586 chambers at the top of the mountain, digging out 14500 meters of mesh tunnels and putting 9173 tons of homemade ammonium oil explosives into them in order to flatten the lion mountain.

“At 10:59 on May 21, 1971, there was a bang,” Xie Chunyi opened his hands and described the earth shaking scene at that time. “The lion mountain was razed to the ground, the Jinsha River stirred up three feet of waves, and the smoke raised by the explosion was like mushroom clouds. We all hid in a safe place with our heads in our arms, and the sand fell from the sky like rain.”

“At that time, we had a saying: don’t miss Dad, don’t miss Mom, don’t miss children, don’t miss home, don’t go home without molten steel —– from this explosion, the real Panzhihua began, and the molten steel was also guaranteed.”

On July 1st, 1970, the 1000 cubic meter No.1 blast furnace of Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. was officially cast. After that, with the development of Zhukuang mine, metallurgical mines, coal, coking plants, sintering plants, transportation and power companies built around the upstream and downstream of Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. rose one after another in five years. By 1974, the rail and beam plant with an annual output of 1million tons was put into operation, and the first phase project was completed. In 2000, the annual output of 4million tons of steel was completed, and the second phase project was completed.

The huge investment in Panzhihua is still worth the money. With the rapid development of mining and steelmaking, the state’s investment in Panzhihua has been fully recovered by the late 1980s.

The whole city of Panzhihua, as a whole, is operating around Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. and is constantly developing with the prosperity of Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd.

At its peak, Pangang steel had its own hospitals, railways, schools and security services, which directly supported 200000-300000 people, and a large number of people were fed by upstream and downstream and service industries, including tens of thousands of people in the 19th Metallurgical Corporation alone and tens of thousands in Panzhihua mining. Since the 1980s, the per capita consumption level has ranked first in Sichuan all year round, and the price and per capita income have always been the highest in Sichuan. In 2017, the per capita GDP exceeded 90000 yuan, and even the breakfast price is 30% higher than that in Chengdu, As a result, a large number of outsiders have been attracted to Panzhihua to engage in the service industry to earn money. A local said that in 1998, there were 1million people with registered residence in Panzhihua, but actually 2million people lived here.

Xie Chunyi recalled that when he first arrived in Panzhihua, there were only seven families in the mining area. How poor was the local area? A girl of seven or eight years old, without pants, walks around naked.

I never thought Panzhihua would be so prosperous later.

The development and construction of Panzhihua and Chengdu Kunming Railways have shortened the 50 year gap between the Jinsha River Basin and the mainland, and changed the economic lives of millions of people.

When I went to Panzhihua by plane in April 2022, I saw a modern city full of Jacaranda and trigonometry plum all the way. Because it was located in the valley of the Yunnan Guizhou Plateau, the sun was bright, the wind was fast and hot, the wind blew my clothes loud, and the sun was so bright that people couldn’t open their eyes. From the moment I got off the plane, I found that the climate here was completely different from that of the Sichuan Basin, which is mainly cloudy, Things that are not in the same world at all.


If divided by geography and climate, Panzhihua should belong to Yunnan, and there are special reasons for its attribution to Sichuan.

At that time, China was in the period of the third tier construction, and planned to build Chongqing into the largest conventional weapons manufacturing center in Asia. As mentioned earlier, Liupanshui and Panzhihua were coal and iron supporting facilities for Chongqing. At that time, Chongqing belonged to Sichuan Province, and there was no municipality directly under the central government. Sichuan was the core area of the third tier construction at that time, and Panzhihua was placed in the same province in order to mobilize resources and facilitate management.

Panzhihua is located in the Yunnan Guizhou Plateau, but it built a city in the river valley deep in the plateau, which has formed a unique dry and hot river valley climate here.

The Hengduan Mountain area where Panzhihua is located is perpendicular to the southwest monsoon or the southeast monsoon. When the airflow reaches the mountain, it will form rainfall by climbing up the slope. After climbing the slope, the air will sink along the leeward slope, so the temperature will rise and the humidity will decrease, resulting in drought, forming a dry and hot valley with high temperature and low humidity.

The dry and hot river valley is not unique to Panzhihua. Dechang, Huili, Lijiang Huaping, Chuxiong Yongren, Yuanmou and Zhaotong Qiaojia of Jinsha River and its tributaries all have this climate.

The geography of Panzhihua belongs to the subtropical zone in a large scale, which is the same latitude as Hengyang, Hunan Province, but the climate is different by 18000 miles. The dry and hot river valley enables Panzhihua to grow tropical fruits, and the fruit quality is extremely excellent.

The unique geographical environment, coupled with the continuous guidance of agricultural experts, makes Panzhihua’s mango, cherry, pomegranate, loquat and other fruits at the top level in China, among which mango is the best. Living in Panzhihua, you can always eat the best quality fruits.

When I was chatting with farmers in the suburbs of Panzhihua, I found that the profit per mu of mango planting reached an astonishing 10000 per mu. The surrounding farmers usually have more than a dozen mu of land, up to 50 mu. The annual income of planting land alone is more than 100000 to 500000 yuan. No one goes out to work for a living. I temporarily traveled all over the country and saw the most amazing agricultural data, Far more than what I said before, “the upper limit of China’s rural land output is 5000 yuan per mu net profit”.

A local civil servant said that his colleague turned off his mobile phone after work on Friday and went back to the countryside to clean up the mangoes in the field. No one could find anyone else. He would not appear on time until Monday.

Of course, such excellent agricultural data is limited to the valley area. Farmers who leave this terrain can’t grow mangoes, loquats and pomegranates, and their lives are ordinary. In addition, the agricultural population around Panzhihua is small, and each household can get more land. In addition, Panzhihua fruit is just staggered with other regions when it is on the market. So many unexpected conditions come together, which makes the surrounding farmers so rich.

However, Panzhihua’s beautiful agricultural scene is only a decade old. In fact, agriculture was not developed before, and local people did not grow these cash crops.

A villager in Renhe district took me to the countryside, pointed to the mountains full of mango trees and said, “these were developed in the last ten years. In order to promote fruit planting, we spent a lot of energy.”

Local farmers do not have scientific agricultural knowledge and strong courage to open up wasteland. The government mainly cultivates a leader of mango planting from village to village. Seeing that the leader has made money, other villagers dare to put into production at ease and take the initiative to open up wasteland on the mountain. The government will help pave the road, erect drip irrigation equipment, invest more than one billion in infrastructure, and invite agricultural experts from the Tropical Crops Research Institute to guide planting, Only then will Panzhihua local fruit industry gradually become bigger and stronger.

When I was in my twenties, I was deeply influenced by some Western books and advocated anarchism. But now, seeing the life scene of Panzhihua farmers, I deeply understand that only a strong government organization ability and mobilization ability, and only deep-rooted management at the grass-roots level, can it benefit more ordinary people. If it is not for the government to take the lead, how many years will it take Panzhihua ordinary farmers to understand the “dry and hot river valley” “Tropical crops” and “scientific planting” are esoteric truths?

It is impossible to have such a high agricultural income every year.

The core economic circle of Panzhihua City is these two systems, one is the upstream and downstream industries mainly driven by Panzhihua steel, and the other is the agriculture driven by tropical fruits. Of course, Panzhihua Steel still has a much greater influence.

However, Panzhihua’s current population is losing a lot, and the younger generation has moved to other places. Xie Chunyi’s children are still working in Panzhihua, but his grandchildren have gone to work in Chengdu.

A local told me that Panzhihua has a registered residence population of 1.2 million, but only 700000-800000 people may really live in the local area.

Mainly because Pangang began to decline.

The decline of Pangang steel is a normal historical process. Before the reform and opening up, we mainly rely on our own iron ore to make steel. After the reform and opening up, we have cheap Australian and Brazilian iron ore, which is transported into the Yangtze River by sea, and has raised steel enterprises along the coast. For example, Shagang, a private enterprise in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, is a representative of rapid start-up by taking advantage of cost advantages.


Panzhihua Iron and steel dormitory built in the 1970s has been idle

Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. not only has no cost advantage, but also has disadvantages. Because it is a special vanadium titanium magnetite, it has been unable to produce molten steel at the beginning of steelmaking. It specially destroyed a steelmaking furnace and allowed it to condense and dissect. It was found that vanadium and titanium float on the surface, resulting in the inability to produce molten steel. It can only buy refined iron ore from other places to mix, and finally produce molten steel. This one in and one out, coupled with the inconvenience of transportation, Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co. from the beginning, The cost is higher than that of ordinary companies.

In the final analysis, the reason for the decline of Shashi in Hubei is that the coast defeated the riverside and the inland.

In 2008, the steel price fell sharply, which directly injured Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., and a large number of workers were laid off at this time. Panzhihua also turned from prosperity to decline, and the population began to flow out in large numbers.

Panzhihua also has a fatal weakness, that is, the traffic is too poor.


Panzhihua is a city isolated by Sichuan Basin.

It takes about 12 hours to go from Panzhihua to Chengdu by train and 8 hours by self drive. It can be said that it is exhausted to go to Chengdu once. Although there is a plane, there is a cross wind in the canyon at Panzhihua airport. When I take the plane to and from, I personally experienced that the plane was blown sideways in the sky, and the fuselage kept swinging, which made people frightened. Even some local people would rather take the high-speed rail to go back to Panzhihua in a big circle than take the plane, because of the strong wind, Some flights to Panzhihua can only return to Chengdu. Before I went to Panzhihua, Panzhihua people in Chengdu repeatedly told me:

If you want to take the plane of Sichuan Airlines, only they dare to land, and other airlines will turn back when encountering crosswind.

After the decline of Pangang, young people couldn’t stand the isolated geographical environment of Panzhihua. After going out to study, they basically couldn’t come back.

The Panzhihua government also knows how serious the traffic problem is. The way to deal with it is to build a new airport to avoid the crosswind. In addition, the high-speed railway from Panzhihua to Chengdu is expected to open at the end of 2022. By then, it will only take three hours to go to Chengdu. This high-speed railway is the traffic line that Panzhihua people want to see, and it is the best solution to the plight of Panzhihua.

Local people say that there are only about 30000 people in Panzhihua Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. now, the 19th Metallurgical Group has moved to Chengdu, and only about 10000 people are left in Panzhihua Mining Group. With the departure of enterprises, there is also the loss of educational resources. The first middle school of the 19th metallurgical group was originally a good local middle school, but now experienced teachers have successively gone to other cities.

The loss of population in Panzhihua is inevitable. I really haven’t seen a few young people there. It is estimated that the number of local permanent residents will eventually fall to about 500000-600000 before hitting the bottom and rebounding.

But don’t be too pessimistic. Panzhihua’s population has been lost for more than a decade, but its total GDP is still growing, from 42.4 billion in 2008 to 113.4 billion in 2021, because Panzhihua’s mineral potential has not been tapped out.

There are three major mining areas in Panzhihua: Hongge, Baima and Panzhihua, among which Hongge south mining area has not been developed. At present, China’s comprehensive utilization technology of ferrovanadium and titanium has been mature, which can realize the low-cost and efficient utilization of iron, vanadium, titanium and chromium in Hongge south mining area. The proved reserves of Hongge mining area reach 3.5 billion tons. The construction of the three mining areas alone can make Panzhihua go forward for decades.

After all, Panzhihua has the largest titanium reserves in the world, accounting for 35% of the global titanium reserves, 93% of China’s titanium reserves, 63% of China’s vanadium reserves and 11% of the global vanadium reserves.

In 2004, because of the excessive development of heavy industry, Panzhihua became one of the top ten air pollution cities in China, and the dust was flying all over the sky. Local people said, “once a white shirt could turn into a black shirt in a day”, but after more than ten years of strict management, now the excellent rate of air quality in Panzhihua has reached the fourth in the province, and the surface water environment ranks the 28th in the country.

With the special geographical location and the increasingly excellent environment, there are two main lines for the future development of Panzhihua, one is to continue to develop high-tech metallurgy and mining, and the other is to build Panzhihua into a healthy city in Sichuan, waiting for the elderly in Sichuan basin to take the high-speed rail to escape the cold.

On the whole, Panzhihua will walk out of a single image of a heavy industrial city and accept the reality that the permanent population is becoming smaller and smaller. Panzhihua will become a boutique town in the future:

With a small population, developed mining and tourism, and high-end fruit brands, it is expected that Panzhihua’s fruits, with the development of China, will sooner or later become a small happy city with a high per capita GDP, similar to Japan and cattle.

In addition, it is suggested that Panzhihua rename the city “kapok”. The original city name is too heavy metal, and kapok is much softer, a bit similar to “Dali”, removing the taste of heavy industry, which is more conducive to the spread of tourism brands.

The day before I left Panzhihua, I accompanied old man Xie Chunyi back to Zhukuang. The originally towering lion mountain had been dug into a huge pit. Facing the place where I had lived for 50 years, Xie Chunyi walked to a high place with a crutch and looked far away, facing the mountain wind and the scorching sun, and was unwilling to leave for a long time.



When I left Panzhihua by plane the next day and looked down from the porthole, the huge pit seemed to wink at me like a huge eye on the earth.

It seemed to me that in 1966, countless young informants gathered in this barren mountain, where they built reed mats and buried ANFO.

It seemed to me that at the moment when the top of lion mountain was lifted off, tens of thousands of people stood up cheering and singing loudly, and the sound waves soared to the sky:

Dedicate your youth to your life, dedicate your life to your descendants

Don’t miss Dad, don’t miss Mom, don’t miss children, don’t miss home, don’t go home without molten steel

II. Yibin

In the early morning of April 20, 2022, I was in the mountains of Hunshan gully in Pingshan County, Yibin City, watching the white fog rising from the ground in front of me.


“Look at the rising white fog,” I pointed to the fog in front of me and spoke to fellow Yibin villagers, “they represent Sichuan.”

“How does Bai Qi represent Sichuan?” People in the same trade asked.

“This is a typical Sichuan climate,” I said. “Sichuan is a basin, and the mountains in the West and North are particularly high. The southeast monsoon from the Pacific Ocean has traveled thousands of miles with water vapor to get here. It can’t get out. So I live here and settle down, making the basin in a high humidity state for many years. In addition, the water vapor on these Plains rises to a certain extent, which can’t disperse, forming clouds and blocking the sun, so it’s cloudy in Sichuan.

The water vapor is nearly saturated during the day, and it will condense into rain as soon as it cools at night, which makes the basin more rainy at night. The four words “night rain in Bashan” come from this.

Humid, cloudy and rainy, these unique conditions in the basin have deeply affected the lives of Sichuan people. “

“What kind of life?”

“We often say that there are many beautiful women in Sichuan. In fact, their skin is white. One white covers all kinds of ugliness. The reason why their skin is white is that the weather is wet and overcast, and they can’t get white from the sun. Similarly, the skin of girls in Chongqing is whiter, because Chongqing is mostly in valleys and foggy. Girls seem to be applying facial mask 24 hours a day, and their natural skin is warm and transparent, such as powder carving and jade carving. Yichang, which I mentioned in the previous article in Hubei, is the same as Chongqing.

Sichuan people like to eat spicy food. The main reason is that the weather is humid. After eating spicy food, the blood flows quickly, which can expel moisture. “

“What about Hunan? Hunan is not a basin. Why do you like spicy food?”

“Hunan is actually a horseshoe basin that opens to the north. The mountains in the south are the dividing line between Hunan and Guangdong, but the shape of the basin is not as obvious as Sichuan. There are four rivers in the province, Xiang Zi Yuan Li River, which are also wet. They all need to remove moisture, and wet places are suitable for planting pepper. When I was a child, I saw my grandmother grow pepper. After planting it, I didn’t care much. Pepper can grow well. Pepper can be seasoned and can replace salt, It is also convenient to eat. Sichuan and Hunan have not been rich since ancient times. Pepper is the cheapest and most practical dish, so it is the most popular in Sichuan and Hunan.

Sichuan has a lot of rain, fertile land, and seeds grow quickly when thrown into the ground. There are hills and plains in the basin, where various animals and plants grow, making Sichuan’s products very rich. Therefore, the diet can become a school of its own. For example, because of the single terrain in the North China Plain and relatively few animals and plants, the food in Henan and Hebei is far less famous than that in Sichuan. “

“Is it because Sichuan is rich in products and people live a good life, so we are comfortable?”

“This is only half the reason. This is called the lower limit is high, and the other half is that the upper limit of Sichuan is low. There are only two ways out of the Sichuan Basin, one through the Qinling Mountains in the north and the other through the Yangtze River in the East. There is little contact with the outside world. Because of the lack of a way out, it is easy to be closed down and massacred, and can’t escape. The two massacres of Sichuan in the late Song Dynasty and the late Ming Dynasty almost killed the ancient Sichuan people. The modern Sichuan people are the descendants of immigrants from Hu Guang to fill Sichuan.

Everyone is an immigrant, so tolerant, rich in products, so comfortable, inclusive and comfortable, making Chengdu the most tolerant city for homosexuals in China, and finally causing a crowd gathering effect, there will be a story of Chengdu floating everywhere.

Coastal areas, such as Shenzhen and Shanghai, can do business with the world, with a high success rate, which stimulates the desire of ordinary people to strive, and talents will be more diligent. Because Sichuan is a basin, there are few ways out. In ancient times, it was basically internal circulation, and the success rate of entrepreneurship was low. Originally, there were rich products, life was passable, there was a bottom line guarantee, and there were more entrepreneurial failures. In order to reduce losses, Sichuan people chose a more appropriate comfortable route, In essence, it is to amortize the cost. “

“So is human behavior all related to geographical environment?”

“Yes, people naturally choose the most appropriate economic form. It’s not that people are naturally diligent or comfortable. Everyone is just adapting to the geographical and economic environment.”

“What about Yibin? Why did Yibin develop into what it is today?” The other party couldn’t help asking.

This is a long story

Yibin is the source of the Yangtze River. The Minjiang River and the Jinsha River are called the Yangtze River after they meet in the urban area of Yibin. According to our consistent theory of “connecting rivers to the sea”, Yibin has such a great advantage that it should be a very rich and prosperous city.


Photo source: Map emperor, pay attention to the confluence of Minjiang River and Jinsha River to form the Yangtze River

In fact, I was desperately poor all the way. Such good conditions ranked fourth in Sichuan’s GDP all the year round, and I couldn’t catch up with Mianyang and Deyang.

The GDP of Luzhou next to Yibin is slightly lower than that of Yibin, but the overall urban construction is clean and refreshing, much like a new coastal city. For a long time, the urban construction and Commerce of Luzhou are suppressed in Yibin. I can see the southwest wholesale points in Luzhou, but I can’t see them in Yibin. It is clear that Luzhou is only a node city of the Yangtze River, and Yibin is the source city of the Yangtze River. How can the commerce of Luzhou look more developed?

With geographical advantages, why did Yibin develop so badly in the past?

Because of the earthquake, dear.

There are two seismic zones in southern Sichuan, one is the North-South Seismic Zone, which has experienced the highest magnitude-8 earthquake in history, and the other is the Huayingshan seismic zone, which is a medium intensity zone. Yibin is located in this area. Because it is a fault zone, earthquakes of magnitude 4-6 often occur in history, and frequent earthquakes have seriously hindered the construction of Yibin.

Like the development path of all cities in the central and western regions, the earliest wave of industry in Yibin came from the third tier construction.

The industrial development of the central and western cities I visited is this path, and I’m a little tired of talking about it myself.

From 1964 to 1968, Yibin received a total of 49 key construction projects, including 17 projects of national defense and military industry, covering machinery, organic chemical industry, papermaking, light chemical industry, chlor alkali chemical industry and electronics.

Then, it stagnated for many years.

The local area mainly relies on two major industries, black and white, which once accounted for 60% of the GDP of Yibin.

Black refers to coal. Yibin has 4.1 billion tons of coal reserves, accounting for 53% of the province. Previously, Furong group had four major mines: Baijiao Coal Mine, Shanmushu Coal Mine, Hongwei coal mine and Gongquan coal mine, which have all been shut down.

“Our coal in Yibin is not as good as Yulin’s,” said a local, “but we developed it early and made a little money in the early years. Yulin’s coal is too abnormal.”

It refers to Baijiu in white, which actually refers to Wuliangye. Some villagers in Yibin took me around the distillery. The air is full of wine fragrance, and people will get drunk when they smell it.

Wuliangye’s operating revenue in 2021 was 66.2 billion yuan, with a net profit of 23.35 billion yuan, ranking second in the country. Maotai, which ranked first, had a revenue of 109 billion yuan and a net profit of 52.46 billion yuan, far ahead of other brands. The third place in the country happened to be Luzhou Laojiao next to it, with a revenue of 20.6 billion yuan and a net profit of 7.956 billion yuan.

In 2021, the largest enterprises in Sichuan Province were new hope with a revenue of 218billion and Changhong with a revenue of 143billion. However, the top two taxpayers were Wuliangye and Luzhou Laojiao. Wuliangye paid 23.228 billion yuan in 2021 and Luzhou Laojiao paid 5.241 billion yuan, which can be called the financial pillar of the two cities.

Wuliangye is slightly better than Luzhou Laojiao in all aspects. In 2021, Wuliangye’s publicity fee was 1.218 billion and Luzhou Laojiao’s was 1.769 billion, making more money and spending less. Wuliangye has obvious brand advantages.

Yibin and Luzhou are very close, both known as the wine city. Both are the intersection of the Yangtze River and its tributaries. Their birth environments are very similar, just like the relationship between Wuliangye and Luzhou Laojiao. Yibin is an enhanced version of Luzhou.

In the past, Luzhou relied on the main industry of “Tianchang Dijiu”, which refers to Luzhou Tianhua, which refers to the three major factories of Luzhou Changjiang crane factory, Luzhou Changjiang excavator factory and Luzhou Changjiang Hydraulic Parts Factory, which refers to geological team 113, and Luzhou Laojiao, which refers to Luzhou Laojiao. Now, all industries are declining, mainly relying on Baijiu, and other mechanical equipment, medicine, green building materials, etc. are scattered, which is not yet systematic.

Then why did Luzhou do so well in urban construction a few years ago? What’s wrong with the industry now?

The reason why the city was built well was that in the past, the old urban area of Luzhou was too small, and it was in a hurry to open a new city. The renovation was completed ten years ahead of Yibin. Therefore, it was not that Luzhou people did not work hard in industry, but that there were insufficient resources.

“Ningde era first came to Luzhou to talk about building a factory, and then came to Yibin.” A civil servant in Luzhou told me, “but we can’t afford the conditions they offered. After repeated weighing, we gave up the Ningde era.”

It is not so much that Luzhou has never competed with Yibin as that the central government has decided to build Yibin and invest heavily to do a good job of Yibin.

The dividing line was in 2016, when the municipal Party secretary was Liu Zhongbo and the mayor was Du Ziping.

In 2016, Yibin decided to launch a “two wheel drive for industrial development”, one of which refers to Baijiu and the other refers to intelligent terminals and cars.

From then on, the curtain opened.

Several key keywords are: Ningde times, University Town, Sanjiang new area.

Walking on the streets of Yibin, in addition to smart rail, I can also see a very small car brand “Kaiyi”. As a middle-aged and elderly veteran car fan, I have no impression of this car. After careful observation inside and outside the car, I found that this is a domestic car that is seriously out of the times, probably ten years behind the manufacturing technology of great wall, Geely and BYD.

It is said that in order to introduce Kaiyi, Yibin state owned assets supervision and Administration Commission and Pushi group have invested tens of billions. Is the cost and risk of such a niche car too high?

“In fact, it didn’t spend as much as it was rumored,” a senior local insider told me. “In fact, it only cost a few billion.”

Then why introduce a car brand that seems to have fallen behind?

“For the production certificate and sales certificate of the car, these two things are valuable. With these two things, in the process of continuous running in, they catch up with the Ningde era, and finally successfully introduced the Ningde era.”

Luzhou city was standing in the distance. Hearing this, she suddenly sighed deeply.

In 2014, Yibin introduced Kaiyi automobile. In 2019, Ningde Times announced to invest 32billion yuan in Yibin, covering an area of 3000 mu.

In 2019, the annual GDP of Yibin was only 263.3 billion, and the investment of Ningde Shidai family could account for 12% of the city’s GDP.

In 2021, Ningde Times announced that it would build seven to ten projects in Sanjiang new area, with an additional investment of 24billion yuan.

“After the Ningde era, a large number of upstream and downstream enterprises have been attracted to invest and set up factories.” A civil servant in Yibin said, “they don’t ask the government for any concessions at all. They directly take the land and work very efficiently.”

By 2025, the global new energy vehicles will reach 20%, and the global power and energy storage battery shipments will reach 1516gwh. The Ningde times family will eat 30% of the market share and produce 520gwh batteries a year. Now its production capacity is only 106.4gwh. Even if the production of Yibin and other cities is completed, it will only reach 220gwh-240gwh.

In the future, Ningde times will definitely add more production capacity, and it is said that the total investment will reach 100 billion yuan.

Why did Ningde era choose Yibin?

Because Yibin is in the middle of Chengdu and Chongqing, the battery can appear on the production line of the vehicle factory in Chengdu or Chongqing as long as three hours after production. Moreover, Yibin’s huge amount of water resources can meet the emission reduction requirements in the production process and achieve carbon neutrality in the production of power batteries.

Sichuan has 760000 tons of spodumene ore, but the exploration proportion is only 4%. Ningde era and local governments are frantically exploring lithium ore, laying a good foundation for the development of electric vehicle industry.

Luzhou raised his hand: in fact, I also have these advantages Why didn’t you choose me in the end?

The final choice of Yibin should be the result of comprehensive consideration. At present, Yibin has complete four transportation lines of “railway, highway, air and water”, more exploitable land resources in the urban area, and is still at the source of the Yangtze River. These are what Luzhou lacks. As for earthquakes, Yibin is generally 4-6 in history, and the newly built buildings are probably able to withstand them now.

I believe that the great development of Yibin is not decided by a leader, but by the provincial government and the central government, because the urban construction and industrial layout of Yibin need to mobilize resources, which is not decided by a municipal leader.

Yibin, a fourth tier city, ranks seventh in the country in terms of assets of urban investment companies alone. This is not a backward small city that can do it by itself.

In addition to Ningde era, Yibin now has Dawei mobile phone, Jimi technology, Tianlong mobile, sugE communication, Geely Automobile, Kodali, Chengyu new energy, etc. it has introduced 233 intelligent terminal projects, 144 of which have been put into production, and 3 automobile enterprises and 15 parts supporting, forming a pattern of new energy vehicles, lithium batteries, Baijiu, intelligent terminals.

Now that there is a large enterprise, someone has to come to work, which has to say another magical thing in Yibin.

That is the university town in Yibin.


Yibin used to have only two colleges and universities, one is Yibin college, the other is Yibin vocational and technical college. In order to build Yibin into an open door to the southwest and vigorously support Yibin education, it has built a 6 square kilometer Lingang university town. As a person who travels all over the country and has seen a little of the world, when I saw such a modern and exquisite university town in a fourth tier city, He just looked at me one by one.

Because of the late development advantage, although most of them are branch schools, their hardware level has completely reached the domestic first-class level, which kills the hardware environment of many famous schools in China.

The university town is divided into three parts: Higher Education Park, Graduate Park and higher vocational park.

The higher education park includes Yibin campus of Chengdu University of technology, Yibin campus of Xihua University, Yibin campus of Sichuan University of light and chemical technology, Yibin campus of Chengdu University outside Sichuan, Yibin campus of Chengdu Institute of technology, Lingang campus of Yibin University, and Sino German Engineering College of Tongji University;

Graduate parks include Yibin Park of Sichuan University, Yibin Park of University of Electronic Science and technology, Yibin Park of Southwest Jiaotong University, and Yibin Park of Southwest University;

The vocational park has Yibin vocational and technical college, Nanxi campus of Chengdu gingko Hotel College, and higher vocational colleges of Harbin Institute of technology.

In addition to universities, Chengdu No.7 Middle School, Sichuan provincial government kindergartens, Lingang experimental primary school, shaping middle school, etc. also followed.

The number of college students in Yibin has increased from 25000 to 80000. It is expected that a total of more than 100000 teachers and students will live in the university town in the future, providing new blood for major companies in Yibin.

Or college town with vocational colleges, white-collar and blue collar.

Most of the enterprises and schools mentioned above are built in Sanjiang new area, which has only been established for two years.

In 2021, the GDP of Sanjiang new area reached 30billion yuan, with a growth rate of 23%. It is estimated that by 2025, the GDP of Sanjiang new area will reach 60-80 billion yuan, 120-160 billion yuan in 2035, and the permanent population will reach 800000.

According to what we have seen with our own eyes, Sanjiang new area has completely reached the first-class level in China. It is like Wuxiang New Area in Nanning, Qujiang New Area in Xi’an, a district under Yibin with a GDP of only more than 300 billion, and Dongguan and Foshan with urban construction far exceeding 1trillion.

Of course, we should be sober to see that Yibin still has many shortcomings.

In Pingshan County, Yibin, I saw many textile companies. I was very curious. When I asked, I learned that they were relocated from Haiyan County, Zhejiang Province. There are 22 enterprises with an output value of more than 6billion, which has solved the employment problem of 5000 local people.

These textile factories have to work 10-12 hours a day, rest for threeorfour days a month, and earn about 4000 yuan a month. The main reason is that local women aged 20-50 are working hard, but these women can take care of their families in Pingshan and don’t have to go all the way to Guangdong to work.

Almost all 18-50-year-old male adults in Yibin and Luzhou villages work in other places. They are scattered in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Chengdu. They can earn thousands of yuan a month. People around the age of 50 usually work on construction sites in the city. Small workers generally cost 150 yuan a day, and skilled welders cost about 400 yuan a day.

In general, urban construction is excellent, but rural areas are still like developing countries.

“By 2025, the GDP of Yibin will reach 580billion yuan.” On the evening of April 21, a person familiar with the situation in Yibin and I stood in front of the water curtain film in Sanjiangkou and walked slowly. He told me, “in fact, we reported more than 600 billion, and the province said that we reported too much, so we had to reduce it to 580 billion, which really can’t be reduced.”

He couldn’t help lifting his head and laughing when he said he was happy.

For comparison, in 2025, the GDP of Luzhou is expected to be only 400billion and that of Mianyang is only 500billion.

Hearing the news, Luzhou, who knew that it could not catch up, stood up and said nothing in silence, while Mianyang, the second place in Sichuan all year round, turned purple and clenched its fists.

According to the current development situation, Yibin has been identified as a sub Provincial Center and the third richest city in the surrounding area besides Chongqing and Chengdu. It is only a matter of time before its GDP exceeds trillion.

It has been only one or two years since Yibin surpassed Mianyang.

In addition to the good economy, Yibin also has pleasant scenery and food. The scenic spot has the famous Lizhuang, bamboo sea in southern Sichuan, and qidonggou. The delicacies include burning noodles, Lizhuang white meat, grape well cold cake, and duck cake.

In the future, Yibin will definitely move from a pure agricultural city to a high-end industrial city.

At this point, I’d like to talk about Yibin’s old rival Mianyang, but I still want to stop in southern Sichuan.

In the north of Yibin, there is a small city, which is also part of southern Sichuan. It is not rich now, but we must say a few more words, because its history is so important that Sichuan is a city that cannot be bypassed.

Yes, it is Zigong.


I took a taxi from Yibin to Zigong.

When I arrived at the place agreed by the Zigong guide, before the other party appeared, I waited under the fir tree by the river in the heart of the city.

On that day, the temperature was pleasant, the sun was mild, and the surroundings were pleasant and peaceful. I only heard the driving sound of the bus and the clatter of the river gently tapping the bank. Looking down the steps of the street to the bank, I saw an old man, accompanied by a nun, reading the Buddhist scriptures while making his mobile phone record a video and releasing the fish there.

When my eyes fell on the clear river, the conditioned reflex formed by years of research made my first reaction to see where the river flows in the mobile map.


When I found the end point along the direction of the river on the map, I found that this Fuxi River was just an insignificant tributary of the Tuojiang River.

Such a small river is only 190 kilometers long, with an average annual total runoff of only 588 million cubic meters, not to mention in Sichuan, but also in the tributaries of the Tuojiang River.

I quickly checked the geographical environment around Zigong and found that there was no traffic advantage here.

Then why is Zigong still so famous in Sichuan?

“Because of salt.”

The guide, who was half an hour late, finally arrived at the scene and answered my first question cleanly.

Zigong is a city established because of the salt industry.

In fact, it is still very young. It was officially built in 1939. Before that, it belonged to the prime minister’s office of Ziliujing county and the prime minister’s office of Gongjing county.

Salt wells have been found in this land since the Eastern Han Dynasty 2000 years ago, and they have always depended on digging salt. 380 salt wells were dug in Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty, “well stoves are dotted with rows of crowns”. By the Qianlong period, there were 424 salt wells with an annual salt output of 18million kg.

The output and cost of producing salt from inland areas are far less than sea salt. The salt in Zigong is still important, but it can only affect small areas of surrounding Hubei, Guizhou and Yunnan, which is not very important in the country.

The two wars that affected the whole country unexpectedly raised the importance of Zigong salt industry.

One was the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, which controlled the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River after reaching Nanjing. Huai salt could not be transported to Hunan and Hubei. The Qing government allowed Sichuan salt to help us from Hunan and Hubei. The number of people engaged in salt production in Zigong soared to 300, 400, 000, and there were more than 1700 salt wells, all of which made a lot of money. These salt families had at least 100000 liang of silver assets, and more than 1 million liang of silver assets, and formed the first generation of Wang Sanwei hall, Li Siyou hall, Hu Shenyi hall Yan guixintang’s four families control 20% of the salt wells.

The other was the Japanese invaders’ invasion of China. Sea salt could not be transported inland from the East. The people of Hunan and Hubei ate vegetables and faded out of a bird. The army also had to eat salt to have the strength to fight a war. It was also called Zigong to help the emergency. Zigong’s annual salt output reached a peak of 245000 tons, with an average annual salt tax revenue of more than 30million yuan, reaching 50million yuan at the peak. Salt tax accounted for 80% of the province. Because of its economic strength, Zigong requested to set up a separate city. In September 1939, Zigong City, which we saw today, was established.


Zigong salt farm in 1938, photographed by Sun Ming

This bonus period led to the birth of the new four families of “Xiong, Hou, Luo, Luo” from poor backgrounds in Zigong. These new rich people started from jingzao apprentices and seized the opportunity to turn around, because living in the Republic of China, the new four families left a large number of photos for future generations.

During the Anti Japanese War, Zigong people who made money donated 120million yuan to the front line, and 100 people donated more than 100000 yuan. More than 800 gold rings were donated, which moved Feng Yuxiang, who came to call for donations, to tears.

In 1943, the maximum salary of railway workers was 120 yuan. 100000 yuan is the salary of a senior worker for about 100 years, which is roughly equivalent to 5-10 million yuan in 2022. It is really rich.

At this time, where are the old four families?

Basically, they all fell down before the revolution of 1911 because they offended the government, their family’s extravagance, family corruption, greed for pleasure and other reasons.

There is no family in this world that can enjoy lifetime dividends.

Everyone has his destiny.

The emergence of waves of salt merchants has produced some unique urban culture in Zigong, which is very fresh and interesting.

At that time, Zigong salt was used by one tenth of the people in the country, and 80% of it was transported by water from Fuxi River to Tuojiang River, and then transported to all parts of the country through the Yangtze River.

However, the water in some rivers of Fuxi River surges rapidly and is very narrow, and ship blocking accidents often occur. In order to adapt to the Fuxi River, Zigong people have built a crooked skull boat, which is only locally available. Its scientific name is rowboat. This kind of boat can hold 450 bags of salt, about 100000 kilograms up and down, and its bow is uniformly tilted from right to left, so that when the boat is driving in the torrent, it will not tilt to the right to the opposite channel, “whether it goes up or down, it will go on the left hand”, There will be no ship jam.

Fuxi River is full of water in the rainy season, and there is a dry season in winter and spring. Ships can’t sail after they are full of salt. Zigong people build a barrage at the downstream of wangyemiao to store the Fuxi River. When the water is released uniformly in the first month, there will be a water release Festival. Countless crooked headed boats rush down with salt in the sound of gongs and drums, breaking through 60 kilometers in one breath, and then straight into the Tuojiang River in one day.

The crooked skull boat and the water release Festival are all derived from Zigong’s salt, but now they are gone. Zigong’s diet, lanterns and old houses have remained until now.

When I went to Zigong, the guide took me to eat cold rabbits and cold beef like the street stalls.

I took a few bites and felt that there was nothing special in the taste. According to the research experience of these years, I realized that the local food was closely related to the working and living environment. My first reaction was:

Was the working environment of salt workers very hot?

After checking, it is true that salt burners often cook salt on the stove and keep company with the fire every day, so they are all naked, so they fall asleep on the board when they are extremely sleepy, and some salt workers who carry brine manually even work naked.

I looked through the photos taken by sun Mingjing at the salt well site in 1938. The salt workers wore two pieces of cloth to cover their private parts at most. They couldn’t be called underwear. They were really two pieces of cloth at will.

But the salt workers are different from the workers in other industries. They are extremely strong. Their muscle lines seem to have been practiced in the gym for several years, and they eat well at a glance.

It still has something to do with the salt industry.

In the process of salt mining, a large number of cows are needed to replace workers in brine extraction and transportation. At the peak of Zigong salt farm, 100000 cows were at work. The cows that were killed by pushing brine were distributed to workers after being slaughtered by their owners. Salt workers kept working for a long time after they were full, forming a unique body-building shape.


Taken by Sun Ming, a saltworks worker

The joint action of salt wells and rivers makes Zigong form a special life scene of “more mountain cow dung, more short beef on the street, more salt boats on the river, and more sedan chairs on the narrow road”.

In addition to beef, mutton is also good in Zigong, but Zigong’s sheep are not local to Sichuan. When Zigong people first mined salt wells, they had technology and no funds. They went to Shaanxi and Shanxi rich businessmen to invest. Rich people in Shaanxi and Shanxi brought money and sheep. They taught Zigong people dozens of methods of whole sheep. Together with famous chefs from all over the country to serve these salt merchants, they finally formed a “xiaohebang” of Zigong cuisine, It is the legendary Salt Gang dish.

From Zigong, xiaohebang, represented by boiled beef, steamed beef with flour, cold eating rabbit, and baby ginger jumping frog; And shanghebang from Chengdu, represented by Gongbao diced chicken, husband and wife lung slices, double cooked pork and Mapo Tofu; And from Chongqing, xiahebang, represented by sauerkraut fish, spicy chicken, Dengying Beef and pickled chicken offal, finally formed Sichuan cuisine.

Although Zigong is a small city, well salt brings wealth and wealth derives culture, so I specially spend a chapter on it.

In addition to eating, salt merchants pay attention to living and playing.

In terms of living, there are old houses such as Yujia mansion, Wang’s courtyard, Zhangjia garden, Hu Yuanhe’s courtyard, etc. in terms of playing, Zigong has had a lantern festival since ancient times. Every Spring Festival, salt merchants will hold large lanterns with their own names to open the way at the Lantern Festival, engage in big tours and lantern races, making Zigong Lantern Festival more and more influential.

When writing here, have you found that Zigong is particularly similar to Yangzhou, which I wrote last year?

Yes, Zigong is a small version of Yangzhou. Because of the developed salt industry, it is also the salt merchants who have made a lot of things to eat, drink and have fun, which has influenced it to this day.

However, Zigong is obviously not as rich as Yangzhou, so its houses, meals and playthings are not as perfect as Yangzhou.

For example, the gardens in Yangzhou are far better than the houses in Zigong. For example, the most famous luxury in Yangzhou, “Yangzhou thin horse”, is the top plaything in the eyes of Yangzhou salt merchants. Zigong salt merchants are not rich enough to make so many tricks.

Yangzhou is better than Zigong. In essence, sea salt is better than well salt.

The good days of Zigong salt industry will be over by and large after the Anti Japanese war.

After all, the cost of well salt is much higher than that of sea salt. As soon as the war of resistance against Japan ended, the national government began to suppress Zigong Salt Industry and support the coastal salt industry, reducing the quota of Zigong’s supply to Hunan and Hubei from 2million to 600000. Coupled with the soaring prices in the late Republic of China, several major salt merchants were killed, and the output fell sharply to the past 10%. The unemployed salt workers in the city reached 15000, and another 10000 salt workers were semi unemployed.

The tertiary industry surrounding the salt industry, such as porters, small traders and handicraftsmen, also began to withdraw from Zigong.

After the founding of the people’s Republic of China, Zigong’s salt industry has recovered. In 1950, 60% of the salt wells resumed production, producing 120000 tons of salt, producing 400000 tons of salt in 1955, and the tax revenue was 35million. However, the national salt production has also gradually caught up. Compared with the prosperity of supplying more than half of China at its peak, Zigong’s salt production has become less and less important.

In 2021, China produced more than 50 million tons of raw salt, and Sichuan Province produced more than 5 million tons of salt. After so many years, Zigong produced only 550000 tons of salt, accounting for about 1% of the country. This economic pillar has completely collapsed.


After that, Zigong’s economy was desolate for a long time. Until 1964, 22 units including Dongfang Boiler Plant, cemented carbide plant, West China energy, Chenguang Chemical Industry and Changzheng machine tool plant were moved, and 14 enterprises directly under Zigong High pressure vessel plant and Zigong standard parts plant were supported, making Zigong develop synchronously from a single salt chemical industry to a mechanical processing industry.

During this period, little Zigong once ranked third in Sichuan after Chengdu and Chongqing for a long time, and had a good time.

After that, the script was unified across the country. Since the late 1980s, the third tier enterprises have been going downhill one after another, and Zigong salt industry has also suffered losses for eight years. The total industrial economy of the city fell from the third to the eighth in the province. The enterprises and schools saw the situation and began to flee from Zigong. Dongfang Boiler factory moved to Deyang, Sichuan Institute of technology moved to Yibin, and southwest Sichuan mining area moved to Luzhou.

When the chemical industry was booming, Zigong attracted a number of enterprises, but when I wandered around the industrial park, I found that nearly half of the enterprises had neither started nor been populated. It was said that the chemical industry was bad, and Zigong had no geographical advantages, so they withdrew one after another.

When I arrived in Zigong in 2022, the population was losing a lot. The registered residence population was 3.27 million, and the permanent population was only 2.77 million, losing 500000 young people.

In Zigong’s 14th five year plan, it is still under discussion to build boilers (Dongguo headquarters is still in existence), drones, valve manufacturing, and new materials into two hundred billion level industries. At the alternating stage of new and old industries, it is difficult to catch up with Yibin and Mianyang in the short term, and it is a long way to go back to the third place in the province.

Zigong once had a deep impact on the economy and Humanities of Sichuan. Although it is now general, after all, its ancestors were rich. It is still worth us to pull out a chapter alone and talk about it with you in detail.

Zigong is already a peaceful and quiet town. With the disappearance of the dividends of the salt industry and the fact that it is only subordinate to the ordinary tributaries of the Tuojiang River, there is no advantage in transportation. It has returned to its normal economic position. The once brilliant salt wells, rowing boats, bare chested salt workers, and beautiful salt merchants’ houses are slowly leaving with the Fuxi River.

IV. West Sichuan and Northeast Sichuan

After visiting Panzhihua, Yibin, Luzhou and Zigong from south to north, we should have gone north to Mianyang and Deyang to talk about these two cities.

But I want to stop over a little bit and briefly introduce West Sichuan and Northeast Sichuan.

At present, according to the different economic conditions, Sichuan is divided into five sections: Western Sichuan, greater Chengdu, Panxi, southern Sichuan and northeastern Sichuan. My article only focuses on greater Chengdu, Panxi and southern Sichuan, and briefly talks about western Sichuan and northeastern Sichuan.


Western Sichuan is a plateau area, which is completely opposite to the traditional Sichuan Basin in topography. It covers a total area of 236000 square kilometers, all of which are alpine grasslands, accounting for nearly half of the 486000 square kilometers of the whole Sichuan.

Western Sichuan is on the edge of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, and in fact it has always been under the unified administration of the Qinghai Tibet Plateau. By the end of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang had just wanted to win the territory of the former Southern Song Dynasty. He didn’t expect to fight fiercely. The territory became wider and wider, and he gradually had an appetite for other regions. In 1369, he sent people to appease the Pazhu Dynasty in Tibet (then called Wusi Tibet).

The Pazhu Dynasty didn’t dare to say anything at first, and wanted to watch it. The next year, the Ming Dynasty pressed the disobedient Gansu on the ground and beat it hard, which scared the surrounding missionaries to recognize their Godfather. The Pazhu Dynasty was also afraid of being beaten, so it quickly recognized its father.

Daming saw that the other side was sensible, and thought that there was no profit from direct management, so he canonized the other side and did not send troops to station. In fact, his rule over the Qinghai Tibet Plateau was nominal.

Seeing that the Ming Dynasty did not pay much attention to the Qinghai Tibet region, Mongolia bypassed Gansu and spent hundreds of years actually controlling Qinghai Tibet by force.

In 1723, after the Qing Dynasty settled a rebellion, it slowly completed its rule over Qinghai Tibet. This time, learning the lessons of the Ming Dynasty to prevent the rebellion from happening again, Yongzheng put Xichuan area under the jurisdiction of Sichuan for the first time.

I personally believe that the Sichuan Basin plus Hanzhong area is the cultural Sichuan we have known for thousands of years, but for reasons of management and checks and balances, today’s Sichuan Province is less Hanzhong and more Xichuan and Panxi.

Many provinces across the country have formed a jagged geographical pattern in order to prevent local separatism.

The inclusion of Xichuan into Sichuan is the political skill of Yongzheng to firmly control the whole Qinghai Tibet Plateau.

At that time, the Qing people entered Tibet from Sichuan to dajianlu (today’s Kangding), and then went to the Tibet area along the three lines of North, South and central China. After Xichuan was divided into Sichuan, the Qing army could garrison in the dajianlu area in large numbers, obtain supplies from Chengdu, and guard the route to Tibet. In this way, it could effectively check and balance Qinghai Tibet, and it did not need the Qing army to go deep into the plateau to adapt to the local climate.

During the Republic of China, in order to build Chongqing’s rear area and weaken the chieftain’s power, Xikang province was temporarily built in the middle of the Anti Japanese War, including Xichuan and Tibetan areas. However, under the condition of national reunification, there was no need to separate this province, and new China was cancelled.

West Sichuan has an average altitude of 3000 meters, cold weather, acidic land, lack of phosphorus, low fertility, no economic crops, and a sparse population. Aba Prefecture and Ganzi Prefecture add up to only 2million people. In such a large place, the population is only equivalent to a Futian District in Shenzhen, which is not suitable for economic development, so it is called “ecological demonstration area”.

As long as you see a large area with the word “ecology”, it shows that this place is economically underdeveloped and mainly engaged in environmental protection, which is not the focus of our introduction.

Western Sichuan is trapped by geography, and so is northeastern Sichuan.

The Northeast Sichuan region, composed of Guangyuan, Bazhong, Dazhou, Guang’an and Nanchong, is somewhat like the three northeastern provinces of Greater China and the least developed region in the Sichuan Basin.

The dividends in Sichuan Basin are either eaten up by Yibin Luzhou along the Yangtze River, or by the traditional rich Chengdu Plain. Northeast Sichuan lags behind a few steps at birth.

Guang’an now ranks first in population outflow in Sichuan Province, with 4.67 million registered residence, 3.24 million permanent residents and 1.43 million loss; The second is Dazhou, with 6.82 million registered residence, 5.56 million permanent residents and 1.26 million loss; The third place is Nanchong, with a registered residence of 7.42 million, a permanent residence of 6.36 million, and a loss of 1.06 million people.

Northeast Sichuan has formed an economic collapse zone in the whole Sichuan Province, which is exactly the same as that of the three northeastern provinces in China.

Sichuan has been upgraded from an agricultural province to an industrial province, and the foundation of its prosperity comes from the third tier. Because of its geographical disadvantages, the third tier enterprises allocated to Sichuan are rarely located in Northeast Sichuan, concentrated around Chengdu and South Sichuan.


The above figure is the distribution table of the third tier enterprises in Sichuan. There are no cities in Northeast Sichuan in the top nine, resulting in poverty and weakness in Northeast Sichuan.

There are many mountains in Bazhong and Guangyuan in Northeast Sichuan, but other cities are no worse. They are much better than Ankang in Shaanxi. The main reason is that there are only so many resources. We can only feed Chengdu and South Sichuan first, and then feed Northeast Sichuan with a little leftovers.

Geographical backwardness leads to the inability to allocate resources during industrial transfer, the lack of industry leads to the high cost of building roads and bridges, and the slow development of transportation. Up to now, most of the top 100 enterprises in Sichuan are concentrated in Chengdu Plain and southern Sichuan, and only Nanchong and Dazhou are listed.

The total GDP of Nanchong and Dazhou is still at the top, but the per capita ranks last in the province, and it has been difficult to break through the 50000 mark, which has formed a generation gap with Yibin, Mianyang and Deyang.


In the final analysis, in the case of limited total amount and increment, it is geography that restricts development.

In such a serious population loss and slow industrial development, what is a good way to save the economy of Northeast Sichuan?

In my personal opinion, at present, Sichuan needs to concentrate its firepower to turn the Chengdu Plain and southern Sichuan into rich areas. Northeast Sichuan should put aside for the time being. Don’t force it. Let’s lose the population. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for Northeast Sichuan to go to the south. It’s not necessarily a bad thing for Northeast Sichuan to go to Chengdu and Yibin. It’s all a redistribution of population.

The economic construction of the whole country is also to build Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu first, and then central China and southwest China in turn. Sichuan is the same, focusing on building Chengdu and southern Sichuan first. These two parts will naturally drive the development of Northeast Sichuan.

It’s better for young workers in Northeast Sichuan to work in Chengdu and southern Sichuan than in Guangdong and Zhejiang.

To be a man and do things is to take your time step by step.

Wu Mianyang

When the article was written here, we had made a full circle around the Chengdu Plain.

Now, we finally have to fall slowly from the north and start reading Chengdu Plain.

As Chengdu is the core of the whole Sichuan Province, let’s talk about Mianyang and Deyang next to Chengdu first.

When I arrived in Mianyang, at noon on April 22, I went to eat a bowl of Mianyang rice noodles first, and then walked along the old city to the center of the city where Anchang River and Fujiang River converge.


Like Luzhou and Yibin, the city center of Mianyang is also built at the confluence of rivers, which is not only the law of city building in Sichuan Province, but also the law of city building in the world.

The water in this area is clear and surrounded by green shade. Although a large number of modern buildings are erected around it, it looks like it has been 20 or 30 years, which is a little old.

The city appearance and buildings of Mianyang seen along the way also mostly stay in the 1980s. They are the old unit houses, old streets, and dense and prosperous camphor trees beside the sidewalks that are difficult to see in the center of other cities. They form a huge difference with the brand-new Yibin, and also do not match the second economic status of Mianyang in the whole province.


I couldn’t help thinking of Xiangyang, where I had been, and I thought that there were also a large number of existing third tier enterprises here, which led to the urban area being unable to be demolished.

“It’s true,” said the guide of Mianyang. “There are many excellent large military industries here. Mianyang looks old because it developed too early and the urban construction can’t be renovated.”

Mianyang, a city with a poor geographical location, naturally lagged behind southern Sichuan in ancient times. Before the founding of the people’s Republic of China, Deyang, Mianyang, was a purely agricultural city, far less than Leshan, Zigong and Nanchong. It was a military industrial enterprise supporting Chengdu, which changed the fate of Mianyang.

During the construction of the third line, the general is required to use the electronic industry and nuclear industry to move to Sichuan. When allocating resources, Mianyang is close to Chengdu, the hilly terrain can resist the traditional horizontal bombing attacks, and the weather is cloudy and overcast, which can avoid aerial reconnaissance, so the electronic industry gradually settled in Mianyang.

Huafeng wireless power plant, Fujiang machine factory (Jiuzhou), 305 factory (Changhong), radio industrial base, etc. all came to Mianyang, and they were all crowded in Yuejin Road, accounting for one third of the total output value of the electronic industry in the province.


The source of the picture of the leap forward road in the 1970s is unknown

In addition to the electronics industry, Mianyang also has nine institutes that exist like experts outside the world. It is China’s only nuclear weapon development and production unit listed separately in the national plan, and China’s two bombs and one satellite meritorious Research Institute.

Mianyang No. 9 hospital was originally Beijing No. 9 hospital, which was also moved by the third line. It moved from Beijing to Qinghai in 1962 and from Qinghai to Mianyang in 1969.

The ninth academy has gathered hundreds of thousands of scientific and technological talents. There are more than 30 academicians of the two academies, accounting for more than half of the academicians in Sichuan. Mianyang people joked that there are so many academicians that they need to “pull a cart by cart”.

Deng Jiaxian, Wang Ganchang, Yu Min, Guo yonghuai, these super giants, all came from the ninth Academy.

When they first came to work in the Ninth Hospital, the organization said they would be isolated from the world and live in the mountains and Gobi forever. Wang Ganchang and Yu Min did not hesitate.

Therefore, Mianyang No. 9 hospital, known as “the backbone of China”, is an important pillar for safeguarding China’s peace.

Mianyang also has a very low-key and great industry, which is their wind tunnel group.

To produce aircraft, determine the aerodynamic layout of aircraft and evaluate its aerodynamic performance, we must go through wind tunnel tests. Only with wind tunnels can we have the possibility of developing high-end aircraft.

The wind tunnel group is extremely difficult to build. It needs at least 500million US dollars and 8000 tons of concrete. Ordinary countries don’t expect to get it at all. Now, only China, Russia, the United States and France have their own wind tunnels in the world.

Mianyang has a 2.4-meter transonic wind tunnel, which can carry out tests at low speeds up to 24 times the ultra-high sound speed. It also has a supercomputer with 14 trillion times per second. Shenzhou spacecraft and j-20 fighter planes are all tested here, and now it is the third in the world and the first in Asia.

“When an aircraft is tested, it needs to be blown by supersonic winds.” Professor Chen, who was introduced in “the wind comes from the southwest”, said of the importance of Mianyang wind tunnel, “in the past, every time it was started, one third of the electricity in Sichuan Province was needed.”

“The United States has not allowed Japan to build wind tunnels, so Japan’s Xinshen fighters can only copy the shape of American aircraft, and they have no data,” he added. “Japan has always been jealous of the wind tunnels in Mianyang.”

A country without sovereignty is like being blocked by others. When it grows to a certain stage, it will stop growing.

Due to geographical reasons, Mianyang gets the resources of electronics and nuclear industry, while Deyang next to it is allocated to the machinery manufacturing industry because of phosphorus ore, natural gas, limestone, coal and other minerals.

Before liberation, Deyang was as backward as Mianyang. It was a pure agricultural city. It did a little processing of agricultural and sideline products for pressing oil and grinding noodles.

In 1957, the state listed Deyang as a key construction area, and started to build the second heavy machinery plant and Dongfang Electric Machinery Plant. When the third line, it also built and moved Dongfang turbine plant, Dongfang Electric Machinery Plant, Jinhe phosphate mine, Deyang refractory plant, Sichuan glass fiber plant, Sichuan resin plant, Sichuan chemical equipment machinery plant, Sichuan Petroleum Drilling and production equipment plant, Tianchi Coal Mine, etc., becoming the national heavy machinery and power equipment manufacturing An important base for phosphate mining.

Since then, it has become a low-key heavy industrial city.

Deyang heavy industry has also gone through a very difficult period, such as China Erzhong, which went downhill in 2011 and lost money for several years. It was delisted in 2015 and reloaded for five years before it was re listed in 2020.

Dongfang Electric also had a net loss of more than 1.78 billion yuan in 2016. In 2017, it acquired a number of companies and turned losses into profits with an asset injection of 7billion yuan, realizing a net profit of 670million yuan.

Similar to the military industry in Xiangyang, many enterprises in Deyang and Mianyang have great strategic significance and will not let them fall casually.

By 2022, Deyang has developed into one of the three major power equipment manufacturing bases in China, forming an industrial system of high-end energy equipment, oil and gas drilling and preparation, complete metallurgical equipment, and general aviation equipment.

The above words are too professional, and it is estimated that ordinary people will be confused. For example, the generator set of the Baihetan Hydropower Station on the Jinsha River, with 8 units on the left bank, comes from Deyang Dongfang Electric Machinery Co., Ltd., the trash racks at the water inlets on the left and right banks, and other equipment, comes from Deyang Dongfang water conservancy.

There are 2600 high-end energy enterprises in Chengdu and Deyang, producing 60% of nuclear power products, 50% of large-scale power station castings and forgings, 40% of hydropower units, 30% of thermal power units and steam turbines.

Deyang’s friend said: their heavy industry is so developed that walking on Deyang street, they all have a feeling of coming to the workshop.

Deyang has experienced environmental pollution in the past due to phosphorus chemical industry. Now environmental protection is basically done, and clean energy equipment can be developed. At present, the characteristic town of clean energy equipment under construction has an output value of 52.2 billion yuan in 2021, and it is expected that by 2025, the output value will exceed 80 billion yuan.

Deyang, Sichuan, always reminds me of Luoyang, Henan Province. As a city engaged in heavy industry, it is difficult to spill the economic benefits to the surrounding farmers. Fortunately, the population of Deyang is only half of that of Luoyang, and the products of Sichuan are slightly better than that of Henan, making the quality of life of Deyang people look slightly higher than that of Luoyang.

In a word, Deyang City is like a boring man of science and engineering. He is not romantic, and his industry is also a B2B machine tool industry, so he quietly maintains the fourth place in Sichuan Province, and people from other provinces hardly know the existence of this city.

Mianyang has formed another ecosystem because of its special focus on military industry and electronics.

“Three economic circles have been formed in the urban area of Mianyang.” Mianyang guide told me, “they are military industry circle, military to civilian circle, and private market circle.”

The military industry circle is the core circle of Mianyang.

Here, there are Jiuyuan for nuclear research, 827 for power research, 126 for magnetic materials and radar, and Kyushu for Beidou. They work and live in their own independent and closed compound, equipped with their own banking and court systems. Everyone speaks fluent Mandarin and has stable income and projects.

Someone has shared on the Internet that the average salary of Mianyang No.9 hospital is 8757 yuan per month, of which 50% of the salary income is 5000-8000 yuan, and the other 50% of the salary income is 8000-11000 yuan. In a small city like Mianyang, it is a stable high-income class.

A person from Mianyang said that the ninth academy has high requirements for entry-level employees, generally those from 985 and 211 colleges. The online data is slightly lower, and the actual salary of the staff generally reaches 12000.

The ninth academy belongs to the core circle. People here often cannot allocate equipment resources from other places in time, so they look for local technical workers to customize special experimental equipment and supporting equipment for themselves, so that Mianyang has formed a market-oriented military outsourcing team.

These outsourcing teams maintained tacit cooperation with the people in the core circle, and gradually became local small companies of “automation equipment and precision machining”, forming a complete set of military technology accumulation and becoming the peripheral invisible team of Mianyang.

The military to civilian circle is the sub core circle of Mianyang.

The first representative here is Changhong Group, which made military radar in the early stage, and later introduced radar scanning technology and production resources into the TV production field, which once ranked first in the sales volume of China’s color TV market.

After 2008, Changhong had a major setback due to the introduction of plasma color TVs. Later, after the national capital injection, it returned its blood, walked out of the road of diversified development, and gradually became the OEM of many famous enterprises.

The private market circle is the outermost circle of Mianyang.

In addition to relying on military industry and supporting industries converted from military to civilian use in the urban area of Mianyang, all subordinate counties and districts can participate in industrial development by taking advantage of human cost to undertake external processing business and earn a small profit.

For example, Xinchen power in the automotive industry lives by assembling 1.6T engines for brilliance BMW. It has no core technology and bargaining power and earns a little hard OEM fees. After brilliance’s bankruptcy in 2020, its industrial chain is in a semi shutdown state.

The civilian market circle is the peripheral circle in Mianyang, which has the largest demand, the thinnest profit, and the most difficult to upgrade. The military industry circle in Mianyang is like the protagonist in a play, the military to civilian circle is like a supporting role, while the civilian circle is a group performance, doing more, earning less, and earning hard-earned money.

Since it is necessary to have a high degree to enter the core circle of Mianyang, Mianyang people attach great importance to reading. There are also two famous schools in this small town, Mianyang middle school and Nanshan middle school.

However, it is too close to Chengdu. Mianyang and Deyang have a common problem, that is, a large number of talents have been absorbed by Chengdu.

I have a deep understanding of this. Many people I interviewed who are very familiar with Mianyang have actually settled in Chengdu, so that after I arrived in Mianyang, I had to run back to Chengdu to find out about Mianyang.

The good news is that the 12th Party Congress of Sichuan Province in May made it clear that Mianyang is the first sub center of the province, Yibin Luzhou is the second sub center, and Nanchong Dazhou is the third sub center.

Interestingly, it took me more than ten days to write about Mianyang after I finished writing about Yibin. I boasted about Yibin in front, saying that Yibin would surpass Mianyang. Now the official has issued a notice saying that Mianyang is the first vice president and Yibin is the second vice president, slapping me in the face.

But I still think Yibin will be stronger than Mianyang in the future.

Mianyang’s heritage is stronger than that of Yibin, but Yibin’s industries are sunrise industries, thick and continuous, and have a broader upstream and downstream industrial cluster effect, which can drive more people to prosperity.

Mianyang’s industrial chain is more closed, and the number of jobs it can drive is limited. Yibin also connects the education industry, and the infrastructure is better. It looks handsome, fierce and lasting.

Mianyang’s industry is too special, so its political status is very high. The Secretary of the municipal Party committee is generally also a member of the Provincial Standing Committee and vice governor, which is worthy of being a provincial speaker.

However, Mianyang is too close to Chengdu, so it looks more like a regional center than a sub Provincial Center. If you have to say it is the first deputy, can you finish the Mianyang Suining railway that has been said for more than ten years?

Of course, although Mianyang is a small city, it is still very important.

“Mianyang has four treasures.” when I said goodbye to Professor Zhang that day, he summed it up to Mianyang, “nine institutes, wind tunnel, Changhong, 624 Institute.”

“Mianyang is not only Sichuan’s Mianyang,” he said, “Mianyang is the world’s Mianyang.”

Lu Chengdu

After making a big circle from south to North in Sichuan Province, we finally arrived at the provincial capital Chengdu.

Just like when talking about Wuhan in Hubei, I will focus on the contemporary history of Chengdu and tell how modern Chengdu came into being. The ancient history only gives a rough outline.

In Sichuan Province, the gap between Chengdu and other cities is too large. By 2021, Chengdu, which ranks first, will have a GDP of 1.99 trillion, while Mianyang, which ranks second, will have a GDP of 335 billion, and Yibin, which ranks third, will have a GDP of 314.8 billion. Other cities will not pass through 300 billion.

Chengdu is a city whose GDP accounts for 37% of the province, so Sichuan people often say that they live in Sichuan city, Chengdu province.

At present, Chengdu has a total population of 21million, about 25% of the total population of Sichuan, and it is still growing.

With 25% of the province’s population creating 37% of GDP, people in other cities must be squeezed living space, and it is normal to be dissatisfied.

I have repeatedly said that the strategy of building a strong province in the central and western provinces should not be taken for granted. Who doesn’t want all cities to be rich like Jiangsu? Who doesn’t want to tie up like Guangdong? The central and western provinces have limited resources and can only concentrate on building a provincial capital. Xi’an, Wuhan, Chengdu and Zhengzhou are all destined to dominate the province. Only by doing so can they be qualified to compete with the eastern coastal cities for talents. With talents, they can build the industry of the province. With industries, they can make the low and medium-sized labor force in the province not to work in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

The strategy of strengthening the provincial capital seems to squeeze other cities in the province. However, it is better for people in the province to work in the provincial capital than in the eastern coast. Working in the province is also much more convenient to take care of their wives and children, their children’s schooling, social security and medical treatment.

I also think that Changsha’s strong province will do too badly. If Changsha does well enough, 5million Hunan people will not go to Guangdong to settle down. Plus the floating population, it is estimated that 7-10million young people in Hunan live in Guangdong all year round.

However, even without the strategy of building a strong province, Chengdu has always been the first choice for Sichuan people. It has always been the most fertile area in the Sichuan Basin.

Baodun people lived here as early as 4500 BC in Chengdu. At that time, the river sank, exposing plains and swamps, providing fertile land for Baodun people.

Pay attention to the four words “river sinking”, which means that the ancient Chengdu Plain was flooded for a long time, and flood has always been a pain point of the Chengdu Plain.

To be exact, it is also a pain point of the country. I have heard about the difficulties of flood in every province. Flood is the biggest enemy of the Chinese nation geographically.

After the primitive Baodun people, Chengdu entered the ancient Shu state in the bronze age. The fifth Kaiming king of the ancient Shu state set its capital here. “Living in Chengju in one year, Chengyi in two years, and Chengdu in three years” means becoming a city, and the name will be used for generations in the future.

The Dujiangyan water conservancy project built by Li Bing and his son laid the richest position in Chengdu. When I went to the scene, I found that it was not as magnificent as I thought. Although it had been built for 20 years, it was an ancient project, which looked like a small piece.

The source of the picture is unknown, from the network

But Dujiangyan is extremely important. It divides the Minjiang River into two and diverts part of it to the east side of Yulei, so that there will be no floods on the south side of the Chengdu Plain and no drought on the north side. Since then, the Chengdu Plain has been fertile for thousands of miles, and millions of acres of fertile farmland have been nourished. In addition, there are no natural disasters, and Chengdu people have lived a good life of peace and prosperity since then.

The merits of Li Bing and his son are still being celebrated for thousands of years.

After the rebellion of Tang, an and Shi, the southern economy rose, and the world was rich. Yang refers to Yangzhou and Yi refers to Yizhou, that is, Chengdu. Yangzhou and Chengdu ranked first and second respectively, surpassing the traditional important cities Luoyang and Chang’an.

Chengdu was prosperous and prosperous in the song and Ming Dynasties, but the two massacres at the end of the song and Ming Dynasties almost killed the ancient Sichuan people, and Chengdu was also killed, so it had to engage in the “two cantons filling Sichuan”. The aborigines in southern Sichuan still retain some, so it is slightly different from other places’ accents. On the contrary, Chengdu Mianyang is similar to the Han people in Western Sichuan, because there are relatively many immigrants here.

Before the founding of new China, Chengdu had always been the fate of an agricultural province. Because of the special basin terrain, Sichuan was rich in products but difficult to transport, and often could not escape the provincial-level massacre. At this time, the province needed a major transportation route out of Sichuan to revitalize the situation.

Therefore, Chengdu Chongqing railway was born.

This humble railway was of great significance in those years. It can be said that if there was no Chengdu Chongqing railway, there would be no Chengdu today.


Figure source: Chengdu Daily, at that time, there was no large-scale mechanical equipment, and the railway construction all depended on manpower

According to the Chengdu Daily, on July 1st, 1952, when the Chengdu Chongqing railway was opened to traffic, a white haired granny came from Huayang line. She had heard that the railway would be built since the Qing Dynasty. Now her daughter is almost 50 years old, and the railway was finally completed. She thought she would never see the train again in her life.

For the first time in Sichuan history, Chengdu Chongqing railway has changed the old mode of leaving Sichuan by land and by water.

Finally, materials can be transported to Chengdu by train.

It can also transport Sichuan’s rice, tea, sugar, salt, coal, herbs, tobacco leaves, etc. to make money.

Before New China, there was only one Qiming electric light company, a mint, an arms factory and a match factory in Chengdu. The industry of the whole city was called “three and a half chimneys”. The important reason why industry could not be established was that there was no road and large equipment could not be transported in.

With the Chengdu Chongqing railway, the equipment was first transported to Chongqing by water, and then transported to Chengdu by railway from Chongqing. Chengdu can finally start industry.

There are so many important military enterprises in Chengdu, and the production equipment is transported through this line. The Chengdu Chongqing railway is the lifeline of Chengdu and the cornerstone of Chengdu’s industrialization.

Based on the Chengdu Chongqing railway, Sichuan will also build a large number of Chengdu Kunming, Baoji Chengdu and other railways. Relevant units of the railway administration moved from Chongqing to the north of Chengdu, and built a large number of office buildings and staff houses in the 1950s, forming the old pattern of “half iron city” in Chengdu.

When I went to ask some young people in Chengdu, some people didn’t know the old story of “iron half city”, but the old people remembered it clearly.

A local scholar led me to the north section of the first ring road in Jinniu District. In front of some old red brick buildings, he pointed to those dilapidated red brick houses and said:

These are the staff dormitories left by the former railway administration units.

He added:

In the future, a new railway village will be built here. You won’t see these old houses in a few years.

Compared with the current high-rise buildings in Chengdu, walking around the village, I feel that this urban village in the center of the city looks very dilapidated, but there is actually a swimming pool built in the 1950s. It can be seen that this was a very high-end local residence in those years.

In the 1950s, there was Chengdu Railway Bureau in charge of the southwest railway network in the north of Chengdu; The eighth Railway Bureau separated from the Infrastructure Department of Chengdu Railway Bureau; China Railway Research Institute, which is responsible for studying bridge and tunnel projects; The Second Railway Institute and the second railway bureau responsible for the construction of Southwest railway; Chengdu Locomotive Factory, which is responsible for the production of locomotives; Hundreds of thousands of workers and family members of the railway system units, such as the wood preservative factory that produces sleepers, crowded the north of Chengdu.

The first major industry in Chengdu is actually the railway industry, not the electronics or aviation that people are accustomed to now.

After all, if you want to be rich, you have to build roads first.

The arrival of railway children is the first step for Chengdu to get rid of agricultural cities and move towards modernization.

The second step is the following five-year plans and the construction of the third tier.

After undertaking 156 aid projects from the Soviet Union, Chengdu was mainly allocated to the electronics industry and machinery industry during the first five year plan period, and the aviation industry during the second five year plan period and the third tier period, due to its safety in the rear and the backward transportation in the southwest.

The railway children have occupied the north, and the electronics and machinery industries of the first five years are located in the eastern suburbs, and later the aviation industry is located in the western suburbs.

The electronics and machinery industry at the time of the first five year plan, including radar, communication and electronic equipment, has a large number of enterprises such as Hongguang Electronic Tube Factory, Guoguang electronic tube factory, Jinjiang Electric Machinery Factory, southwest radio equipment factory, Chengdu electric machinery factory, Chengdu wireless power plant, etc., and has been matched with the College of Telecommunications Engineering (now the University of Electronic Science and Technology), electronic circuit secondary school, electronic machinery secondary school and other schools to train talents, as well as ten electronic research institutes and core research institutes.

In addition to the ten institutes, there are also nine institutes that study magnetic materials, 29 institutes that study electronic countermeasures, 30 institutes that study secure communications, and 607 institutes that study airborne radars, all of which are elite soldiers in Chengdu’s electronic information industry.

From the first five-year plan to the present, it has accumulated nearly 70 years of hard work, so Chengdu University of Electronic Science and technology is such a loser.

The aviation industry and the third tier of the University at 25:00 brought 420 plants (now Chengdu Development Group) and 132 plants (now Chengdu aviation group).

The predecessor of the 420 factory was the 111 factory built by Zhang zuolin in Shenyang, also known as Fengtian ordnance factory. During the war to resist US aggression and aid Korea, the 111 factory was responsible for repairing the engine of the air force, but it was bombed by the US Army. Due to the exposure of the target, it could only move to the mainland. In 1958, 3000 northeast workers took the train for three days and nights and moved with the factory to Chengdu shuangqiaozi, which was still a wasteland of luanfenggang, and changed its name to Xindu machinery factory, which was internally called the 420 factory.

From 1980 to 1990, 420 factory reached its peak period, with 20000 workers and 100000 family members. At that time, shuangqiaozi area was the world of 420 factory.

Then came the layoff of state-owned enterprises. The head office of 420 factory did not care about the branch factory, and the branch factory did not care about the workshop. The workshop directors were all known as beggars’ sect leaders. They rode bicycles everywhere to find jobs for the workshop. Finally, there were only about 5000 people left, and they were still in a state of loss. In 2005, 420 factory sold 2.1 million square meters of land to China Resources Land for 2.14 billion, and then relied on this cash flow to revitalize the enterprise.

The real estate of China Resources is called “24 cities”. Jia Zhangke’s documentary film “24 cities” in 2008 is the story of 420 factory.

420 factory now moved from the eastern suburbs to Xindu District. The old workers said that when they moved here, they called it Xindu machinery factory, which was originally used as a cover. Now they really went to Xindu. Maybe this is life.

420 factory has been responsible for the production of aircraft engines. During the transformation period, it also produced Shuangyan brand washing machines, which were very popular at first. A washing ticket can be sold for 400 yuan. Later, it was discontinued because of quality problems. Now there are about 6000 people in Chengfa, who are focused on the aviation engine industry. They produce some famous domestic aircraft engines.

A small number of the old employees who left factory 420 were transferred to base 012 in Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province, and most of them scattered to the outskirts of Chengdu. The number of retired employees was about 300 yuan per month in 1999, and rose to more than 1000 in 2009. Their descendants became policemen, teachers, taxi drivers, civil servants, businessmen, and no one was willing to become employees of state-owned enterprises.

They have spoken fluent Chengdu dialect and thoroughly integrated into Chengdu.

Factory 420 moved from Northeast China, while another famous factory 132 in Chengdu, the later Chengdu flying group, grew up locally.

In October, 1958, according to the aid agreement between China and the Soviet Union, with the help of Soviet experts, Chengdu began to build 132 factories in Huangtianba, Wenjiang, with a total investment of 180million yuan. Six years later, it was completed, covering a total area of 507 hectares and employing 10400 workers. In November of that year, the jian-5a aircraft made its maiden flight here successfully.

After that, they successively developed J-5, J-7, Xiaolong, J-10 and other series of aircraft.

In 2016, the jian-20, the strongest work of Chengdu airlines, was delivered to the army for use, presenting China with a world-class fighter.

The growth of Chengdu Airlines was hard won. In 1966, after learning from MiG-21 to build the prototype of the J-7, Shenyang Airlines switched its focus to the development of the J-8. The prototype of the MiG-21 was transferred to Chengdu airlines, which fully absorbed nutrition from the MiG-21. It took more than 20 years to thoroughly understand it, developed the J-7 e, and cultivated a large number of excellent talents.

It is the accumulation of technology and talents of MiG-21 that enabled Cheng Feicai to defeat Shen Fei in the competition of J-10 and complete China’s first truly self-developed advanced fighter.

Later, it defeated Shenfei’s snow owl with the j-20, and Chengfei has since become a top company that can develop heavy-duty fifth generation aircraft.

Because Cheng Fei took the American route, everyone called him Cheng Luoma, while Shen Fei always followed the Soviet route, and everyone called him Shen Huoyi.

Although Cheng Luoma and Shen Huoyi are now competitors, the first 300 technicians in Cheng Luoma were actually transferred from Shen Huoyi. It can be said that the nutrition of Chengdu’s aviation industry, which initially grew up, is mainly the Soviet Union and Northeast China.

In addition to the three industries mentioned above, Chengdu actually has a very low-key nuclear industry.

The three nuclear magic weapons are China Nuclear Power Research and Design Institute, which moved from Beijing in 1969, Southwest Institute of physics of nuclear industry, which was established in 1958, and Galaxy 596.

For the above historical reasons, the industries of Chengdu have been dominated by the railway, electronics, machinery, aviation and nuclear industries for many years. Since then, Chengdu has become the headquarters of the third line of Southwest China, the talent export base, and the starting point for the construction of railways.

The electronics industry supports the 081 base in Guangyuan and the 083 base in Kaili, Guizhou.

The aviation industry has assisted Shaanxi airlines’ engine plant and Guizhou airlines.

Influenced by the railway, electronics, machinery and aviation industries with a large number of employees, the general pattern of Chengdu has initially formed a fixed geographical outline.

This is the historical origin of the “poor in the East, expensive in the west, chaotic in the north and rich in the South” that Chengdu people often talk about.

A large number of workers are gathered in state-owned enterprises in the East. Because of the wave of closures that began in the 1980s, the workers have a hard time. On the other hand, there are crematoria and cigarette factories in the East. In the early years, they have been despised and called dongqiong.

Because there are lotus pond wholesale market and railway station in the north, people come and go, gathering a large number of floating population, and the railway department is far less popular than in the 1950s, it has become a northern chaos.

There is a large aviation industry in the west, and the municipal and provincial governments are also here. Together with their families, Xigui is formed, especially in Dufu thatched cottage and HUANHUAXI. Generally, this area does not dare to cut off water and power.

Because there is no collection of these large industries in the south, there are many open spaces for developing real estate. Those who make money from doing business settle here, forming Nanfu.

Almost every city in China has been renovated in recent decades. It was before 2015 that the East was poor, the West expensive, the North disordered and the South rich. Now Chengdu is a modern new city.

Li Chuncheng, who was in charge of urban construction at that time, has been sacked.

To talk about this brand-new Chengdu, we must talk about Lichun city.

Li Chuncheng, born in 1956 in Liaoning, graduated from Harbin Institute of technology. He worked at Harbin Institute of technology before the age of 31, and then transferred to the Communist Youth League of Harbin. Since then, he has transferred to politics, worked as Deputy Secretary of the CPC Committee of Taiping District, served as Deputy mayor of Harbin at the age of 42, and then worked in Chengdu.

From 1998 to 2012, he held an important position in Chengdu for 14 years. Except for four months as secretary of the municipal Party committee in Luzhou, all the others served as vice mayor, mayor and Secretary of the municipal Party committee in Chengdu. As the top leader of Chengdu, he served from 2003 to 2011.

Li Chuncheng’s official career was incredibly smooth. When he worked in Harbin, he ranked 25th among the main leaders. He went to Chengdu to serve as the vice mayor, which was a cadre exchange, and his ranking was relatively low. The turning point occurred when he suddenly went to Luzhou to serve as the Secretary of the municipal Party committee. Only four months later, he finished his gold plating, returned to Chengdu and became the acting mayor. A month later, he became a full-time official, and rushed to the highest level in Chengdu.

“The picture of thousands of miles of rivers and mountains” has been written all the way. The officials in charge of the construction of the city had a good ending. Li Chuncheng was the only important official imprisoned when he wrote here.

His experience in Chengdu can be summarized as: making money while building.

First of all, Li Chuncheng has been engaged in urban construction for more than ten years, and three factions, namely “kinship Gang”, “Harbin Gang” and “Chengdu Gang”, have gathered around him to make money from Chengdu’s public resources.

The kinship Gang refers to his younger brother Li Chunming, who takes other relatives to get land in Tianfu new area and Shuangliu, gets hundreds of acres of land with an area of 50 million mu, and then turns over with an area of 200 million mu.

Harbin Gang pointed out that several real estate developers he brought from Northeast China followed Li Chuncheng to obtain a number of first-class land development projects, and handed over large projects of 2000 mu and 4000 mu to these Harbin real estate businessmen.

The local gang refers to the local big businessmen in Sichuan who took the land in lichuncheng at a very low price. For example, a certain investment obtained the land development right of nearly 10000 mu at a low price, while a rich businessman obtained 1500 mu of land at a price of 280000 yuan per mu, while the real price at that time was 700000 yuan per mu.

Li Chuncheng also moved his office to a luxury villa in the middle of the mountain. In addition, he transferred people from the newspaper office to do literary publicity and publicity. It is said that there are also eight King Kong gangs to deal with various affairs. In addition, he once spent tens of millions to move the graves of the elderly to Dujiangyan, which looks like the earth emperor of Chengdu.

After its collapse in December 2012, five subordinates, nine heads of state-owned enterprises and four entrepreneurs were taken away for investigation and prosecution within 17 months.

While taking advantage of his position to seek rent, Li Chuncheng also made a certain contribution to Chengdu.


In the 13 years since he took charge of Chengdu, Li Chuncheng has carried out two large-scale urban and rural reconstruction of Chengdu, launched urban and rural planning, and completed Chengdu’s South expansion and East entry strategies.

In 2001, Li Chuncheng, who had just returned from Luzhou, found that Chengdu has an extremely cumbersome system of administrative processes, which has deeply restricted the development of Chengdu. When he was investigating in Sichuan University, zhangzhirong, the director of West China pharmaceutical factory, angrily showed him the rigidity of Chengdu’s administrative system. He ran to the government for three years for the approval of a remote transformation project, covered more than 100 chapters, and couldn’t get a license. The construction period was delayed again and again, The project looks yellow.

Li Chuncheng started the reform from the administrative examination and approval, and asked four universities in Sichuan to help make the research report. Finally, Professor jiangxiaoping of Sichuan University made the best report, believing that the root cause was the abuse of government power, and suggested building a service-oriented government. Li Chuncheng liked it very much. He asked the Chengdu Development Research Institute of Sichuan University, chaired by Professor Jiang, to gather a large number of intellectual elites to advise on the governance behind it.

The first achievement of the reform is to cut the approval items of all departments in the city by half, which is equivalent to cutting off the stamp right of some people. The following people don’t listen, but lengthen the process. Li Chuncheng responded by publicizing the approval fee catalogue to the society, and talked to the leaders of all departments one by one. He directly said that he would change people if he didn’t reform. Only when the leaders of all departments were hit hard, did he seriously implement it. In the first five years of the reform, Chengdu has cut 758 approval projects.

After that, Li Chuncheng learned from it, understood the way to oppress the subordinates, and showed a tough approach in the reconstruction of the old city.

Since 2002, Li Chuncheng plans to complete the demolition of 4.1 million square meters of dilapidated buildings within the second ring road in three years, involving 114000 households and 300000 residents, which is the total amount of demolition in the past 11 years.

In order to promote the progress, Li Chuncheng dismissed more than a dozen cadres within one month in 2004, “leaving Chengdu officials on pins and needles”.

And the civil resistance to demolition, such as several nail households in East Street, Li Chuncheng asked “never be lenient, never be soft hearted”, and has been nicknamed “Li Kaicheng” since then.

By the end of 2004, Chengdu had demolished 4.84 million square meters of dilapidated houses, completing the task seven months in advance. (source: China Newsweek)

In addition to demolition, another major label of lichuncheng is urban and rural planning.

In October, 2011, when he was about to leave the post of secretary of the Chengdu municipal Party committee, Li Chuncheng wrote a preface of 4000 words for the “Regulations on urban and rural integration”, as a summary of his work experience in Chengdu. This book, which was listed in February of the next year, only 10000 copies were printed, and all of them were taken back and sealed after Li Chuncheng fell.

In 2002, Li Chuncheng interviewed Ye Yumin, a professor of the National People’s Congress, to ask about the integration of urban and rural areas.

In 2004, Li Chuncheng absorbed nutrition from Wujiang, Jiangsu Province, and began to carry out urban-rural planning: industry concentrated in parks, farmers concentrated in cities and towns, and agricultural land concentrated in large-scale operations.

In fact, it is still a redistribution of land, which will lead to the following “let farmers go upstairs” and “homestead for buildings”. By the end of 2010, one in every 10 villagers’ groups in Chengdu is implementing land acquisition and demolition.

In 2009, tangfuzhen, a villager of Jinhua village in Jinniu District, set himself on fire with gasoline on the roof of the roof to fight against forced demolition. This time, in the urban-rural planning, Li Chuncheng never responded to this matter externally, but only said in his internal speech, “learn lessons from it and improve work”.

Because of the famous brand of balancing urban and rural development, Li Chuncheng has another nickname, called “Li Chengxiang”.

Lichuncheng has played a great role in promoting the urban construction of Chengdu. It is he who mainly built a large number of commercial entities in the Second Ring Road, requiring the second ring road to provide commercial services for residential areas near the third ring road. There is a regional commercial complex every five kilometers. It is also his main construction of the financial city when he was in office, focusing on micro electronics, automobiles and parts, bio chemical, petrochemical projects, and the modernization transformation of Chengdu.

The downtown area of Chengdu is only 18 square kilometers in the founding of the people’s Republic of China, and reached 400 square kilometers in 2013. Most of the expansion of the area took place during the reign of Li Chuncheng.

The GDP of Chengdu also increased from 180billion yuan when Li Chuncheng was in power to 700billion yuan when he left office.

The merits and demerits of history should not be borne by Li Chuncheng alone. He was only magnified by his mistakes and achievements in the tide of history. If China had not just developed to this stage and the country was just building and renovating cities, Li Chuncheng’s mistakes could not go too far and his achievements could not be too high.

After experiencing the development of Chengdu Chongqing railway, the first five-year plan, the third line of the University, reform and opening up, and the demolition and construction of Lichun City, we finally ushered in this new and modern Chengdu.

Today, Chengdu can be said to be one of the happiest cities in China. The good life of the people in Chengdu is the result of generations of suffering and mistakes.

Chengdu is no longer the “poor in the East, expensive in the west, chaotic in the north and rich in the South”.

Most of the factories in the east of the city have been relocated and changed into residential areas. The new northern city is mainly built in the north, the humanities are mainly focused on the west, and most of the high-quality resources are concentrated in the south, which continues to expand all the way.

It is estimated that by 2025, the five advanced manufacturing industries in Chengdu will reach 1.5 trillion yuan in electronic information, 1 trillion yuan in equipment manufacturing, 800billion yuan in medicine and health, 400billion yuan in green food, and 250billion yuan in new materials.

Artificial intelligence, cutting-edge medicine, medical beauty industry, fashion industry, flexible electronics, Satellite Internet and ultra-high definition display are also under development.

Tianfu new area will focus on the development of artificial intelligence, 6G communication and blockchain; Chengdu high tech Zone focuses on the development of electronic information, biomedicine and artificial intelligence; The eastern new area focuses on aerospace equipment, new energy vehicles, high-end energy equipment, intelligent manufacturing and new robots, high-end medical equipment; The Economic Development Zone focuses on the development of high-end equipment manufacturing industry; Dry ports and airports should develop advanced manufacturing and port oriented producer services suitable for rail and air, Europe and ASEAN.

Chengdu’s military industry is also extremely strong. I visited several companies there. Unfortunately, I can’t say more. In short, it’s awesome.

Chengdu has also shown a very gentle image to the whole country. Relying on hot pot, pandas, beauties, food, ancient buildings, scenery, etc., Chengdu is known as a “city that you don’t want to leave when you come”. (this sentence originated from Li Chuncheng)

To tell the truth, Chengdu is really comfortable. I don’t want to leave when I go.

In October 2015, Li Chuncheng, a Liaoning native, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. When he came out, it should be around 2026.

At that time, he should be 70 years old.

I wonder if when he returns to Chengdu and sees the development in full swing now, he thinks of Chengdu, whose annual GDP was only 180billion when he first took office. When he thinks of the large-scale demolition and the overall planning of urban and rural areas, he will have mixed feelings, and the past will come to his mind.


In late April 2022, I traveled more than half of Sichuan from south to north to understand this province with only hot pot and pandas in my impression.

I saw the amazing urban construction of Yibin, the heavy industry of Mianyang, the tortuous course of Panzhihua, and the growth history of Chengdu.

But at the end, at the end of this article full of praise for Sichuan, I have to admit that the overall development of Sichuan is not very good.

Among the cities, only Chengdu is first-class in China, Yibin is half new and half old, and other cities are far behind developed provinces.

The gap between the rural areas is very obvious. The hardware level of the rural areas I saw in Sichuan is obviously a little worse than that of Hunan and Hubei, while that of Hunan and Hubei is obviously worse than that of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

However, Sichuan has good natural scenery and rich products, and the rural areas are slightly stronger than Henan, Hebei, Shaanxi and Shanxi.

From east to west, the countryside has formed an obvious three-level ladder.

Sichuan’s population is so large that it will be a very long process to make so many people rich.

It will take at least 30 years of construction before we can see that Sichuan as a whole has reached a higher material civilization.

It’s still a long way to go, but we’ve already set out.

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