Chengdu, City of Gastronomy and Future Int’l Shopping Paradise

Authors: Go Chengdu

2016-09-27

As a city with a history of more than 2,000 years, Chengdu is one of the first 24 national historical and cultural cities in China designated by the State Council, China's cabinet.

History and culture is the soul of a city. As a city with a history of more than 2,000 years, Chengdu is one of the first 24 national historical and cultural cities in China designated by the State Council, China's cabinet. Over the past 2,000 years, the city's name, location and main layout have remained unchanged. Its past and present are enriched with profound commercial civilization and food culture, which are indispensable parts of the city, recording its history and sketching its future.

Chengdu got thriving economically and culturally thanks primarily to the Dujiangyan Irrigation System in western suburban Chengdu's Dujiangyan City, which is the oldest and only in-use dam-free water conservancy in the world. Built in around 256BC, the system with the functions of water conservation and flood control is located on the Minjiang River, the longest tributary of the Yangtze River. Playing a crucial role in draining off floodwater, irrigating farmlands and providing water resources to more than 50 cities including Chengdu and its neighbors, the water project serves as a lifeline for the people living in the city. Ecological environment, moderate climate and ample natural resources are also key to the local economic and cultural prosperity.
The South Silk Road originating from the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-8AD) is one of the oldest international business and trade routes in China. The 2, 000km passage started from Chengdu, going through Ya'an, Lushan, Xichang, Panzhihua, Yunnan, Burma, and Thailand, and ended in India and the Middle East. The South Silk Road, together with the Northwestern Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road, were important channels in ancient China for foreign trade & transportation, and cultural exchange. Chengdu's Shu Brocade & Embroidery products, iron ware and some specialties were transported to Bactria (the name of a historical region in Central Asia) and Shan States (now in Burma) and even the distant Mediterranean Basin. At the same time, sea shells, ivories and glass ware produced in other countries were sent into the city, which thus became an opening international metropolis as early as from the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD).
During the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, Minjiang River and Tuojiang River, the major branches of the Yangtze River, had been open to navigation, promoting the regional economic prosperity and enabling Chengdu as famous as Yangzhou in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Since the reign of Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang Dynasty, who was on the throne between 846 and 859, there have been lots of regular cultural and folk customs fairs in the city all the year round, showcasing and marketing various local products ranging from farm tools, salt, iron ware, textiles, jewelries to TCMs.
The world's earliest paper banknote was issued in Chengdu in 1023, which contributed significantly to the trade flow, economic boom and financial development throughout the world.
Over the more than 2,000 years, Chengdu has been flourishing in the business and catering sectors.
Chengdu was dubbed by the UNESCO as the world's City of Gastronomy in 2010, the fourth city in Asia to gain the title. Fang Maotian, the then Secretary General of the Chinese National Commission for the UNESCO, said, "Chengdu is a national historical and cultural city in China, with amazing cultural legacies and heritages including its food culture. As the birthplace and development center of Sichuan cuisine, Chengdu has become one of the world's most important food centers. In history, Chengdu is a creative and innovative city of gastronomy. It is home to China's first distillery, first tea culture center, first cuisine industry base and first food museum.
With fast growing economy, Chengdu's status as a regional commercial center has been continuously consolidated. Last year, the city formulated a 15-year plan to speed up its process to become a shopping paradise with international influence. According to the plan, by 2020, in the service sector, the city will realize an added value of over RMB90 billion, its retail sales of consumer goods will hit RMB85 billion. In addition, it will do its best to top the country in the number of international brands to be introduced and that of self-developed brands with independent intellectual property, increase its penetration rate of mobile payment for e-commerce transactions to 50%, and expand its revenue of tourist shopping to 30% of its total tourist income.

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