Provinces

Home - Explore China - Provinces - He Bei
  

Provinces

 

 

 

 

He Bei

 
 

 

Hebei (Chinese: 河北; pinyin:  Héběi; Postal map spelling: Hopeh) is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "冀" (jì), named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province (zhou) that included what is now southern Hebei. The name Hebei means "north of the river", referring to its location completely above the Yellow River.

 

In 1928, Hebei was formed after the central government dissolved the province of Chih-li (直隸), which means "Directly Ruled (by the Imperial Court)".

 

Beijing and Tianjin Municipalities, which border each other, were carved out of Hebei. The province borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, and Shandong to the southeast. Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea is to the east. A small part of Hebei, an exclave disjointed from the rest of the province, is wedged between the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin.

 

A common alternate name for Hebei is Yānzhào (燕趙), after the state of Yan and state of Zhao that existed here during the Warring States period of early Chinese history.

 

 

History

 

 

Plains in Hebei were the home of Peking man, a group of Homo erectus that lived in the area around 200,000 to 700,000 years ago. Neolithic findings at the prehistoric Beifudi site date back to 7000 and 8000 BC.

 

During the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC – 476 BC), Hebei was under the rule of the states of Yan (燕) in the north and Jin (晉) in the south. Also during this period, a nomadic people known as Dí (狄) invaded the plains of northern China and established Zhongshan (中山) in central Hebei. During the Warring States period (403 BC–221 BC), Jin was partitioned, and much of its territory within Hebei went to Zhao (趙).

 

The Qin Dynasty unified China in 221 BC. The Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) ruled the area under two provinces (zhou), Youzhou Province (幽州) in the north and Jizhou Province (冀州 Jì Zhōu) in the south. At the end of the Han Dynasty, most of Hebei came under the control of warlords Gongsun Zan in the north and Yuan Shao further south; Yuan Shao emerged victorious of the two, but he was soon defeated by rival Cao Cao (based further south, in modern-day Henan) in the Battle of Guandu in 200. Hebei then came under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei (one of the Three Kingdoms), established by the descendants of Cao Cao.

 

After the invasions of northern nomadic peoples at the end of the Western Jin Dynasty, the chaos of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern and Southern Dynasties ensued. Hebei, firmly in North China and right at the northern frontier, changed hands many times, being controlled at various points in history by the Later Zhao, Former Yan, Former Qin, and Later Yan. The Northern Wei reunified northern China in 440, but split in half in 534, with Hebei coming under the eastern half (first the Eastern Wei; then the Northern Qi), which had its capital at Ye (鄴), near modern Linzhang, Hebei. The Sui Dynasty again unified China in 589.

 

During the Tang Dynasty (618–907) the area was formally designated "Hebei" (north of the Yellow River) for the first time. During the earlier part of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, Hebei was fragmented among several regimes, though it was eventually unified by Li Cunxu, who established the Later Tang Dynasty (923–936). The next dynasty, the Later Jin Dynasty under Shi Jingtang, posthumously known as Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin, ceded much of modern-day northern Hebei to the Khitan Liao Dynasty in the north; this territory, called The Sixteen Prefectures of Yanyun, became a major weakness in the Chinese defense against the Khitans for the next century, since it lay within the Great Wall.

 

During the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127), the sixteen ceded prefectures continued to be an area of hot contention between Song China and the Liao Dynasty. The Southern Song Dynasty that came after abandoned all of North China, including Hebei, to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty in 1127.

 

The Putuo Zongcheng Temple of Chengde, Hebei, built in 1771 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.

 

Saihanba National Park in Inner Mongolian plateau grassland border, north Chengde, Hebei The Mongol Yuan Dynasty divided China into provinces but did not establish Hebei as a province. Rather, the area was directly administrated by the Secretariat (中書省) at capital Dadu. The Ming Dynasty ruled Hebei as "Beizhili" (北直隸, pinyin: Běizhílì), meaning "Northern Directly Ruled", because the area contained and was directly ruled by the imperial capital, Beijing; the "Northern" designation was used because there was a southern counterpart covering present-day Jiangsu and Anhui. When the Manchu Qing Dynasty came to power in 1644, they abolished the southern counterpart, and Hebei became known as "Zhili", or simply "Directly Ruled". During the Qing Dynasty, the northern borders of Zhili extended deep into what is now Inner Mongolia, and overlapped in jurisdiction with the leagues of Inner Mongolia.

 

The Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1912 and was replaced by the Republic of China. Within a few years, China descended into civil war, with regional warlords vying for power. Since Zhili was so close to Peking (Beijing), the capital, it was the site of frequent wars, including the Zhiwan War, the First Zhifeng War and the Second Zhifeng War. With the success of the Northern Expedition, a successful campaign by the Kuomintang to end the rule of the warlords, the capital was moved from Peking (Beijing) to Nanking (Nanjing). As a result, the name of Zhili was changed to Hebei to reflect that fact that it had a standard provincial administration, and that the capital had been relocated elsewhere.

 

The founding of the People's Republic of China saw several changes: the region around Chengde, previously part of Rehe Province (historically part of Manchuria), and the region around Zhangjiakou, previously part of Chahar Province (historically part of Inner Mongolia), were merged into Hebei, extending its borders northwards beyond the Great Wall. The capital was also moved from Baoding to the upstart city of Shijiazhuang, and, for a short period, to Tianjin.

 

On July 28, 1976, Tangshan was struck by a powerful earthquake, the Tangshan earthquake, the deadliest of the 20th century with over 240,000 killed. A series of smaller earthquakes struck the city in the following decade.

 

In 2005, Chinese archaeologists unearthed what is being called the Chinese equivalent of Italy's Pompeii. The find in question, located near Liumengchun Village (柳孟春村) in Cang County in east-central Hebei, is a buried settlement destroyed nearly 700 years ago by a major earthquake. Another possible explanation may be the four successive floods which hit the area around the time when the settlement met its sudden end. The settlement appears to have been a booming commercial center during the Song Dynasty.

 

 

Geography

 

 

Most of central and southern Hebei lies within the North China Plain. The western part of Hebei rises into theTaihang Mountains (Taihang Shan), while the Yan Mountains (Yan Shan) run through northern Hebei, beyond which lie the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. The Great Wall of China cuts through northern Hebei from east to west as well, briefly entering the border of Beijing Municipality, and terminates at the seacoast ofShanhaiguan in northeastern Hebei. The highest peak is Mount Xiaowutai in northwestern Hebei, with an altitude of 2882 m.

 

Hebei borders Bohai Sea on the east. The Hai He watershed covers most of the province's central and southern parts, and the Luan He watershed covers the northeast. Not counting the numerous reservoirs to be found in Hebei's hills and mountains, the largest lake in Hebei is Baiyangdian, located mostly in Anxin County.

 

Hebei has a continental monsoon climate, with cold, dry winters, and hot, humid summers. Temperatures average −16 to −3 °C (3 to 27 °F) in January and 20 to 27 °C (68 to 81 °F) in July; the annual precipitationranges from 400 to 800 millimetres (16 to 31 in), concentrated heavily in summer.

 

 

Culture

 

 

Dialects of Mandarin are spoken over most of the province, and most Mandarin dialects in Hebei are in turn classified as part of the Ji Lu Mandarin subdivision. Regions along the western border with Shanxi, however, have dialects that are distinct enough for linguists to consider them as part of Jin, another subdivision of Chinese, rather than Mandarin. In general, the dialects of Hebei are quite similar to and readily intelligible with the Beijing dialect, which forms the basis for Standard Chinese, the official language of the nation. However, there are also some distinct differences, such as differences in the pronunciation of certain words that derive from entering tone syllables (syllables ending on a plosive) in Middle Chinese.

 

Traditional forms of Chinese opera in Hebei include Pingju, Hebei Bangzi (also known as Hebei Clapper Opera), and Cangzhou Kuaiban Dagu. Pingju is especially popular: it tends to be colloquial in language and hence easy to understand for audiences. Originating from northeastern Hebei, Pingju has been influenced by other forms of Chinese opera like Beijing opera. Traditionally Pingju makes use of just a xiaosheng (young male lead), a xiaodan (young female lead), and a xiaohualian (young comic character), though it has since diversified with the use of other roles as well.

 

Quyang County, in central Hebei, is famous for its Dingzhou porcelain, which includes various vessels such as bowls, plates, vases, and cups, as well as figurines. Dingzhou porcelain is usually creamy white, though it is also made in other colours.

 

Hebei cuisine is typically based on wheat, mutton and beans.

 

Famous people born in Hebei Province include:

 

Feng Dao (881-954), Confucian minister

 

Yan Yuan (1635–1704), Confucian philosopher

 

Chi Jushan (1876–1962), playwright and scholar

 

 

Tourism

 

 

The east end of the Ming Great Wall is located on the coast at Shanhaiguan (Shanhai Pass), near Qinhuangdao. Informally known as the "First Pass of The World" (天下第一關), Shanhaiguan was the place where Ming general Wu Sangui opened the gates to Manchu forces in 1644, beginning nearly 300 years of Manchu rule; Shanhai Pass also marks the psychological entrance / exit of Manchuria, so that for centuries Manchuria was known as "outside the Pass" or "east of the Pass". Beidaihe, located near Shanhaiguan, is a popular beach resort well known as a former meeting place for top governmental officials.

 

The Ming Great Wall crosses the northern part of Hebei.

 

The Chengde Mountain Resort and its outlying temples are a World Heritage Site. Also known as the Rehe Palace, this was the summer resort of the Manchu Qing Dynasty emperors. The Chengde Resort was built between 1703 and 1792, and consists of a palace complex, a large park area composed of lakes, pavilions, causeways, bridges, etc., and a number of Tibetan Buddhist and Han Chinese temples in the surrounding area.

 

There are Qing Dynasty imperial tombs at Zunhua (Eastern Qing Tombs) and Yixian (West Qing Tombs). The Eastern Qing Tombs are the resting place of 161 Qing emperors, empresses, and other members of the Qing imperial family, while the West Qing Tombs have 76. These are also part of a World Heritage Site.

 

The Zhaozhou, or Anji Bridge, built by Li Chun during the Sui Dynasty, is the oldest stone arch bridge in China, and one of the most significant examples of pre-modern Chinese civil engineering.

 

Baoding, the old provincial capital, contains the historical Zhili Governor's Residence.

 

Xibaipo, a village about 90 km (56 mi) from Shijiazhuang, in Pingshan County was the location of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army during the decisive stages of the Chinese Civil War between May 26, 1948 and March 23, 1949, at which point they were moved to Beijing. Today, the area houses a memorial site.