Kiangsi


Kiangsi
/kyang"see"/; Chin. /gyahng"see"/, n. Older Spelling.
Jiangxi.

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Introduction
Chinese (Wade-Giles)  Chiang-hsi,  (Pinyin)  Jiangxi,  

      sheng (province) of south-central China. It is bounded by the provinces of Hupeh and Anhwei on the north, Chekiang and Fukien on the east, Kwangtung on the south, and Hunan on the west. The area of the province is 63,600 square miles (164,800 square kilometres). On the map its shape resembles an inverted pear. The port of Chiu-chiang (Jiujiang), 430 miles (692 kilometres) upstream from Shanghai and 135 miles downstream from Han-k'ou, is the province's principal outlet on the Yangtze River. The provincial capital is Nan-ch'ang (Nanchang).

      The name Kiangsi means “West of the (Yangtze) River,” although the entire province lies south of it. This seeming paradox is caused by changes made in administrative divisions throughout China's history.

      Lying in the midst of a longitudinal depression between China's western highlands and the coastal ranges of Fukien Province, Kiangsi constitutes a corridor linking the province of Kwangtung, in the South, with the province of Anhwei and the Grand Canal, in the North. Throughout China's history, Kiangsi has played a pivotal role in national affairs because of its position astride the main route of armies, commerce and trade, and large population migrations.

Physical and human geography

The land
      Topographically, Kiangsi corresponds to the drainage basin of the Kan River (Gan River), which runs northeastward in descending elevation from the southern tip of the province to P'o-yang Lake and the Yangtze in the north. This basin is surrounded by hills and mountains that rim the province from all sides. Among the more important ranges are the Huai-yü Mountains, to the northeast; the Wu-i Mountains, to the east; the Chiu-lien and Ta-yü ranges, to the south; the Chu-kuang, Wan-yang (including Mount Ching-kang), Wu-kung, and Chiu-ling ranges, to the west; and the Mu-fu and Lu ranges, to the northwest. A remarkable feature of these mountains is that they rise in disconnected masses and thus contain corridors for interprovincial communication, especially along the Hunan border. The mountains to the south, too, present no formidable barrier. The Mei-ling Pass is a broad and well-paved gap leading to Kwangtung Province.

      Other mountains are found in the centre and north of the province. East of the Middle Kan Valley are the Yü Mountains. Made up of short and moderate hills separated by a network of streams, the country traversed by this range consists of a succession of small valleys with bottomlands from five to 12 miles wide. The Lu Mountains, in the north, rise sharply to almost 5,000 feet (1,524 metres) from the lowlands west of P'o-yang Lake.

      The principal river of Kiangsi is the Kan, which traverses the entire province from south to north. Its headwaters are two streams that converge to form one river at Kan-chou. Along its course this great river receives several large tributaries from the west and a lesser number of smaller tributaries from the east.

      Besides the Kan, other rivers of Kiangsi form distinct basins of their own in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the province. These include the Hsin River (Xin River), which rises near Yü-shan in the northeast and runs westward to P'o-yang Lake; (Poyang, Lake) the Ch'ang and Lo-an rivers, also in the extreme northeast of the province; and the Hsiu River, which, rising in the Mu-fu Mountains in the northwest, drains southeastward into P'o-yang Lake.

      Ultimately, all Kiangsi's rivers drain into P'o-yang Lake, which is connected with the Yangtze (Yangtze River) by a wide neck at Hu-k'ou, a short distance east of the Yangtze port of Chiu-chiang. In summer, when the Yangtze rises, P'o-yang Lake gains in size and depth: its area then covers about 1,800 square miles (90 miles long by 20 miles wide), and its depth averages 65 feet. In winter, when the Yangtze waters recede, it shrinks in size, leaving shallow channels of water in many places. If the high-water stage occurs simultaneously on the Yangtze, the Kan, and other rivers, floods inevitably result. The lake also serves as a useful reservoir.

Soils
      The soil in the plains of northern Kiangsi is alluvial and permits intensive cultivation. The hilly lands in other parts of the province have red and yellow soils. In these poorer regions few natural forests have been preserved; commercial trees planted instead include the tea, tung, camphor, bamboo, and pine. On farms with clayey red soils, where the rains have washed away the mineral contents as well as the humus, the soil requires working over and the addition of green manure or chemical fertilizers in order to become productive.

      Situated in the subtropical belt, Kiangsi has a hot and humid summer lasting more than four months, except in spots of high elevation, such as Lu-shan. High temperatures in Nan-ch'ang in July and August average 95° F (35° C). In winter temperature variations between north and south are greater. January temperatures in the north at times fall to 25° F (−4° C), while those in the south average 39° F (4° C). Most of the province has a growing season of 10 to 11 months, thus making possible two crops of rice. Rainfall is plentiful, particularly during May and June. Average annual rainfall is 47 inches (1,194 millimetres) in the north and 60 inches in the south; in the Wu-i Mountains (Wuyi Mountains) region it can reach 78 inches.

Settlement patterns
      Most of Kiangsi's people live in rural areas. The leading city is Nan-ch'ang. Situated on the right bank of the Kan River, a short distance before it enters P'o-yang Lake, Nan-ch'ang is the focal point for rail and river transport, an industrial centre, and a trading centre for agricultural products. Chiu-chiang, on the south bank of the Yangtze 87 miles north of Nan-ch'ang, is the principal port through which the province's products are exported. Just south of Chiu-chiang is the beautiful resort of Ku-ling, perched 3,500 feet atop Mount Lu.

      From Nan-ch'ang southward up the Kan are Chi-an (Ji'an), rich in literary lore and the commercial metropolis of the Middle Kan Valley, and Kan-chou (Ganzhou), the centre of culture and trade in the Upper Kan Valley. Other cities dot the hinterland on both sides of the river. The leading city in the extreme northeast is Ching-te-chen, the porcelain capital of China. The vast stretch of country east and southeast of Nan-ch'ang contains many cities of historical and commercial importance, the largest of which is Fu-chou. The west and northwest of the province is a focus of heavy and light industry, of which P'ing-hsiang (Pingxiang), on the Hunan border, is the major centre.

The people
      Kiangsi received successive waves of migration from North China through the ages. Its population is virtually all Han (Chinese); minority groups include the Miao, Yao, and Hui (Chinese Muslim) peoples. The Hakka, descendants of a unique group of migrants from North China, have maintained their separate identity with their own dialect and social customs.

      The language usually spoken is Mandarin, with a marked Lower Yangtze accent, although it has an admixture of the Fukien dialect in regions south of Kuei-hsi and is heavily tinged with the Cantonese accent in the Ta-yü region, south of Kan-chou.

The economy
      The beautiful basin of the Kan River, together with the valleys of its many tributaries, was one of the nation's most affluent regions before trade patterns were changed by the opening of treaty ports to the Western powers in the mid-19th century. Nevertheless, Kiangsi is still one of China's richest agricultural provinces. Since 1949 the reclamation of unused land, treatment of red soil to make it more fertile, construction of irrigation projects and hydroelectric power stations, and increased use of chemical fertilizers and mechanization has increased the amount of arable land to more than one-third of the total area of the province.

      Food crops produced in Kiangsi include rice, sugarcane, fruits, peanuts (groundnuts), and sweet potatoes. Of these, rice is by far the most important. The P'o-yang Lake plain and Lower Kan and Hsü valleys are the principal areas of rice production; two crops a year are raised in all parts of the province. Kiangsi also produces a great variety of commercial crops: tea is grown on hillsides in many regions; ramie, used for making a fine, silky fabric, is raised south and west of P'o-yang Lake; cotton is grown on the plains northeast of the lake; tobacco is produced in the Chekiang border area; and sugarcane is raised in the northeast and in the south. Other important commercial crops include soybeans, rapeseed, and sesame seeds. Kiangsi is a great provider of fruit, especially citrus, watermelons, pears, and persimmons. The hills of the province also supply the nation's apothecaries with such important herbs as the three-foliaged orange, the greater plantain (Plantago major), and the gallnut; and the indigo plant is grown in the valleys east of P'o-yang Lake.

      Lush forests in the region from Chi-an southward contain pine, fir, cedar, oak, and banyan. The timber produced there—used for building material and for furniture—is floated down to Chiu-chiang for export to all parts of China. No less important are the camphor tree and the giant bamboo. The timber industry also yields valuable by-products, especially tung oil, resin, turpentine, lampblack (for making Chinese ink sticks), and tea oil.

      Livestock raised in Kiangsi include water buffalo, pigs, chickens, and ducks. Inland fishing is a major industry on P'o-yang Lake. In addition, fisheries are found along the numerous rivers and in the almost countless village ponds.

      Although Kiangsi was long known for commerce and handicrafts, modern industry had only a limited base by 1949. Subsequently, however, the province made immense progress in establishing both heavy and light industries. Coal and tungsten are the most important minerals. The area around P'ing-hsiang in the west is the coking coal capital of south central China; another major coal-mining centre is Feng-ch'eng, south of Nan-ch'ang. The region surrounding Ta-yü, on the Kwangtung border, is the centre of tungsten mining, and extensive deposits have been discovered at the extreme southern tip of the province. The ore mined in southern Kiangsi contains 60 percent tungsten; the remaining 40 percent permits the production of sizable amounts of tin, bismuth, and molybdenum. Tantalum, lead, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and salt are also mined.

      Nan-ch'ang is the largest industrial centre; it has plants for a wide variety of heavy and light industrial products. Chiu-chiang has an oil refinery and a petrochemical industry, but it is principally a centre for textile mills and textile machinery. Kan-chou is also a major industrial centre. Food processing is an important enterprise in many localities throughout the province. The development of modern industry, however, has not affected the handicrafts for which Kiangsi has been famous throughout history. The ramie cloth produced in the province continues to be the nation's preferred choice for summer wear. Other important local products are the typical Kiangsi varieties of paper—lien-shih paper for printing (made of bamboo), piao-hsin paper for wrapping (also of bamboo), and mao-pien paper for scribing (made of rice and mulberry straw). Hsü-wan, in the southwest, is a major centre of the engraving and printing industry.

      The porcelain industry, however, is the foremost activity of the province. During the reign of the Sung emperor Chen-tsung (997/998–1022/23), the town of Fou-liang, in northeastern Kiangsi, was by Imperial decree made a centre for fine porcelain. From that time on, Fou-liang was known as Ching-te-chen (Jingdezhen), after the Imperial patron's year title Ching-te. For 10 centuries it has supplied the Chinese people with porcelain ware of all descriptions—ranging from items of daily use to artistic works of rare beauty made for the enjoyment of emperors and collectors. The beautiful translucence and hardness of the porcelains from Ching-te-chen are attributable to kaolin (china clay) and petuntse (white briquette), both of which are found in the Ch'ang Valley and along the east shore of P'o-yang Lake. Most of the population of Ching-te-chen is still employed in one way or another in the making of porcelain. The bulk of the output is for domestic trade, although some items are shipped abroad. The government has been making an effort to revive and preserve the secret formulas of the Ming and Ch'ing potters, but the tendency seems to be away from handicrafts and toward mechanization.

      Kiangsi has an abundance of inland waterways. Most of the rivers flow diagonally, from east and west toward the centre, emptying into the Kan River and P'o-yang Lake; many are navigable. On many shallow streams, as well as on the headwaters of the Kan, navigation is by junk. Thus, there are adequate transportation facilities for all counties of the province; Nan-ch'ang and Chiu-chiang are the main centres for transshipment and distribution. Goods for export are carried by large steamships on the Yangtze.

      The first major railroad in Kiangsi, built on the eve of World War I, runs north–south, linking Chiu-chiang with Nan-ch'ang. Another, the Chekiang–Kiangsi railroad, runs east–west, from the Chekiang border, westward to the Hunan border. This line forms part of a national trunk line that extends westward through Hunan into Kweichow to connect with the rail network of the southwest. Another line runs southeastward to Amoy.

      Kiangsi's highways were well developed in the Nationalist period. Many new roads have since been added. The focal centres for the highway system—Nan-ch'ang, Lin-ch'uan, Shang-jao, Chi-an, and Kan-chou—are the hubs of regional road networks and the termini of interprovincial highways.

Administration and social conditions
      From 1950 to 1954 Kiangsi was part of the Central South greater administrative region. In 1954 Kiangsi Province became directly subject to the central government. Kiangsi's administrative divisions are arranged in a hierarchy of levels. Immediately below the province (sheng) there are five prefectures (ti-ch'ü) and six prefecture-level municipalities (shih). Below that level are counties (hsien) and county-level municipalities (shih). The lowest political units are the townships.

      During the 1950s Kiangsi served as a laboratory for a number of revolutionary educational experiments. Perhaps the most significant innovation in higher education was the Kiangsi Labour University, founded in 1958. It has its main campus in Nan-ch'ang but operates a network of branch campuses, in addition to affiliated technical schools, throughout the province. Aiming at the development of productive work through the dissemination of advanced education, the branch campuses have pioneered a multiplicity of development projects, including building roads in mountainous areas, founding new villages, reclaiming land, building factories, and promoting afforestation.

      Centres of higher learning include the Kiangsi branch of the Academia Sinica (Chinese Academy of Sciences), the Kiangsi Library, the Kiangsi Provincial Museum, the Kiangsi Agricultural Institute, and the Kiangsi Medical College, all located in Nan-ch'ang. Popular education has also made advances, and some three-fifths of the population has at least a primary-level education. The adult literacy rate is at the national average.

Health and welfare
      Before 1949 the greatest scourge was the prevalence of malaria. This debilitating disease annually took a heavy toll of lives. Since 1949 draining the swamps and pools of stagnant water, the breeding grounds of the disease-carrying Anopheles mosquito, and measures taken for epidemic prevention have reduced malaria to a minimum. Another menace to health peculiar to the P'o-yang Lake region was liver fluke (a kind of flatworm). Many thousands of lives were previously lost every year from this parasite, but this disease, too, is rapidly becoming a danger of the past, following mass control of the fluke embryo in the lake and surrounding waters.

      In curative medicine, many improvements have been made. Clinics providing free medical care have been made widely available, while modern hospitals have been established in all cities and counties.

      An adequate social welfare program is available. For industrial workers there are measures for accident prevention, as well as insurance programs that provide for hospital treatment, sick leave, disability compensation, maternity leave, and old-age and death benefits. Extra benefits are available based upon cooperation with government policies, such as birth control. In Nan-ch'ang and other industrial towns and in the countryside, the government has constructed new housing and expanded recreational facilities.

Cultural life
      For nearly 2,000 years the people of Kiangsi lived under the pervading influence of Confucian culture. With village life rooted in intensive agriculture and government in the hands of the landlord-scholar-officials, the dynamics of society were regulated by Confucian ethics. Such a culture gave the province many famous people. Besides T'ao Ch'ien (Tao Qian) (a great Chin poet of the reclusive life), Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi) (the Sung dynasty Neo-Confucian philosopher), and Wang Yang-ming (Wang Yangming) (the Ming philosopher), all of whom either taught or lived there, Kiangsi produced a full quota of statesmen during both the Sung and the Ming dynasties.

      Yet, despite the dominance of Confucian learning and culture, peasant rebellions also were a strong tradition in the province. The first major revolutionary base of the Chinese Communist Party was at Jui-chin, in southeastern Kiangsi, and an uprising in 1927 at Nan-ch'ang serves as the founding date of the Red Army.

History
      From 770 to 476 BC, during the Ch'un-ch'iu (Spring and Autumn period) of the Chou dynasty, Kiangsi was a part of the kingdom of Ch'u. During the Chan-kuo (“Warring States”) period (475–221 BC) the territory east of P'o-yang Lake was annexed by the kingdom of Wu. When a unified empire was established under the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), Kiangsi became the western portion of the large province of Yang-chou and grew rapidly in population and culture.

      From 220 to 589, the period of the Six Dynasties, large numbers of families from North China, fleeing the Tatar invaders, settled in Kiangsi. Initially, there were clashes between the northern newcomers and the original inhabitants. In time mutual accommodation prevailed, and the province benefited immensely from the introduction of northern arts, culture, and administrative skills. It was during this period that the Kan River valley became the main highway of the empire. Under the T'ang dynasty (Tang dynasty) (618–907) the growth of commerce and population in Kiangsi was even greater than in earlier times. This was caused first by the opening of the Grand Canal, linking Lo-yang with the Lower Yangtze, and second by a new influx of people from North China. Equally noteworthy was the spread of Buddhism in this period.

      In the Sung dynasty (Song dynasty) (960–1279) Kiangsi became a model of the Confucian state, governed by scholar-officials. The Pai Lu Tung (“White Deer Grotto”) Academy, near Lu-shan, where Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi) taught, became a renowned centre of Confucian learning. From 1069 to 1076 Wang An-shih (Wang Anshi), a native of Lin-ch'uan, southeast of Nan-ch'ang, was prime minister; Wang introduced reforms to curb the rich and help the poor, only to be overthrown by the conservative champions of the traditional order. In the late Sung period and throughout the era of the Mongol conquest, Kiangsi's cultural and political vigour declined. Such was the obscurantism of the government that it sanctioned a Taoist “papacy” at Mount Lung-hu, near Kuei-hsi, which lasted into the mid-20th century.

      In the early years of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) Kiangsi produced a number of great statesmen, but after a time the government's despotic tax program alienated the people. From the early 16th century onward, peasant brigands living in the hills fought the government. The widespread unrest was ended after the Ch'ing dynasty (Qing dynasty) (1644–1911/12) reunified the country. During this period of prolonged peace Kiangsi again became one of the wealthiest regions of China, but its days of prosperity ended in the mid-19th century, when the Yangtze Valley was devastated by the great Taiping Rebellion against the ruling Ch'ing dynasty and when treaties with the Western powers diverted trade to coastal regions.

      In the first half of the 20th century Kiangsi became a focal point for revolution and war. After the 1911–12 revolution the province fell victim to warlord rule, until Chiang Kai-shek brought it under Nationalist (Nationalist Party) control in 1926. Chiang's break with the Communists, however, made Kiangsi a bone of contention between the two sides. An uprising was staged in Nan-ch'ang by the Communists in 1927, followed by the establishment of peasant bases in the southern counties under the Communist leaders Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) and Zhu De (Chu Teh). Such was the growth of their strength that, in 1931, Jui-chin was declared the capital of the Chinese Soviet Republic. In the continuing struggle the Communist guerrillas withstood Chiang's “annihilation campaigns,” but his use of an economic blockade forced the Communists to flee Kiangsi and to begin their Long March (1934–35) to northwestern China. Chiang then briefly regained control of southern Kiangsi, and Nationalist government reforms were undertaken on an experimental basis in 1934–37. From 1938 to 1945 much of Kiangsi was under Japanese occupation. The Communists carried on guerrilla activities inside Kiangsi throughout the period.

      After the Japanese withdrawal Communist guerrillas dominated the countryside, while the Nationalist government took precarious control of the cities. In 1949 Communist forces crossed the Yangtze from the north and took possession of the province. Kiangsi then entered an era of stability and progress, and many new economic and social developments were pioneered there.

Victor C. Falkenheim

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Universalium. 2010.

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