Chongqing formerly romanized as Chungking, is a major city in southwest China. Administratively, it is one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in China located far away from the coast.
The municipality was created on 14 March 1997 to help the Three Gorges Dam migration, succeeding the sub-provincial city administration that was part of Sichuan Province. Chongqing’s population as of 2015 is just over 30 million with an urban population of 18.38 million. Of these, approximately 8.5 million people live in Chongqing central urban area; Fuling District, Wanzhou District and Qianjiang District are in fact cities in their own right, and along with the central urban area constitute a metropolitan area housing 17 million people. According to the 2010 census, Chongqing is the most populous Chinese municipality, and also the largest and inland direct-controlled municipality in China, and comprises 26 districts, 8 counties, and 4 autonomous counties.
The official abbreviation of the city, Yu , was approved by the State Council on 18 April 1997. This abbreviation is derived from the old name of a part of the Jialing River that runs through Chongqing and feeds into the Yangtze River. Chongqing was also a Sichuan province municipality during the Republic of China (ROC) administration, serving as its wartime capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
Chongqing has a significant history and culture and serves as the economic centre of the upstream Yangtze basin. It is a major manufacturing centre and transportation hub; a July 2012 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit described it as one of China’s “30 emerging megacities.
Chongqing was separated from Sichuan province and made into a municipality in its own right in 14 March 1997 in order to accelerate its development and subsequently China’s relatively poorer western areas (see China Western Development strategy). An important industrial area in western China, Chongqing is also rapidly urbanising. For instance, statistics suggest that new construction added approximately 137,000 square metres (1,470,000 square feet) daily of usable floor space to satisfy demands for residential, commercial and factory space. In addition, more than 1,300 people moved into the city daily, adding almost 100 million yuan (US$15 million) to the local economy.
Traditionally, due to its geographical remoteness, Chongqing and neighbouring Sichuan have been important military bases in weapons research and development.Chongqing’s industries have now diversified but unlike eastern China, its export sector is small due to its inland location. Instead, factories producing local-oriented consumer goods such as processed food, cars, chemicals, textiles, machinery and electronics are common.
Chongqing is China’s third largest centre for motor vehicle production and the largest for motorcycles. In 2007, it had an annual output capacity of 1 million cars and 8.6 million motorcycles. Leading makers of cars and motor bikes includes China’s fourth biggest automaker; Changan Automotive Corp and Lifan Hongda Enterprise, as well as Ford Motor Company, with the US car giant having 3 plants in Chongqing. The municipality is also one of the nine largest iron and steel centres in China and one of the three major aluminium producers. Important manufacturers include Chongqing Iron and Steel Company and South West Aluminium which is Asia’s largest aluminium plant. Agriculture remains significant. Rice and fruits, especially oranges, are the area’s main produce. Natural resources are also abundant with large deposits of coal, natural gas, and more than 40 kinds of minerals such as strontium and manganese. Coal reserves ≈ 4.8 billion tonnes. Chuandong Natural Gas Field is China’s largest inland gas field with deposits of around 270 billion m3 – more than 1/5 of China’s total. Has China’s largest reserve of strontium (China has the world’s 2nd biggest strontium deposit). Manganese is mined in the Xiushan area. although the mining sector has been criticised for being wasteful, heavily polluting and unsafe. Chongqing is also planned to be the site of a 10 million ton capacity refinery operated by CNPC (parent company of PetroChina) to process imported crude oil from the Sino-Burma pipelines. The pipeline itself, though not yet finished, will eventually run from Sittwe (in Myanmar’s western coast) through Kunming in Yunnan before reaching Chongqing and it will provide China with fuels sourced from Myanmar, the Middle East and Africa. Recently, there has been a drive to move up the value chain by shifting towards high technology and knowledge intensive industries resulting in new development zones such as the Chongqing New North Zone (CNNZ). Chongqing’s local government is hoping through the promotion of favorable economic policies for the electronics and information technology sectors, that it can create a 400 billion RMB high technology manufacturing hub which will surpass its car industry and account for 25% of its exports.
The city has also invested heavily in infrastructure to attract investment. The network of roads and railways connecting Chongqing to the rest of China has been expanded and upgraded reducing logistical costs. Furthermore, the nearby Three Gorges Dam which is the world’s largest, will not only supply Chongqing with power once completed but also allows oceangoing ships to reach Chongqing’s Yangtze River port. These infrastructure improvements have led to the arrivals of numerous foreign direct investors (FDI) in industries ranging from car to finance and retailing; such as Ford, Mazda, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, ANZ Bank, Scotiabank, Wal-Mart, Metro AG and Carrefour, among other multinational corporations.
Chongqing’s nominal GDP in 2011 reached 1001.1 billion yuan (US$158.9 billion) while registering an annual growth of 16.4%. However, its overall economic performance is still lagging behind eastern coastal cities such as Shanghai. For instance, its per capita GDP was 22,909 yuan (US$3,301) which is below the national average. Nevertheless, there is a massive government support to transform Chongqing into the region’s economic, trade, and financial centre and use the municipality as a platform to open up the country’s western interior to further development.
Chongqing has been identified by the Economist Intelligence Unit in the November 2010 Access China White Paper as a member of the CHAMPS (Chongqing, Hefei, Anshan, Maanshan, Pingdingshan and Shenyang), an economic profile of the top 20 emerging cities in China.
Public transport in Chongqing consist of metro, intercity railway, a ubiquitous bus system and the world’s largest monorail network.
As the provisional Capital of China for almost ten years (1937 to 1945), the city was also known as one of the three headquarters of the Allies during World War II, as well as being a strategic center of many other wars throughout China’s history. Chongqing has many historic war-time buildings or sites, some of which have since been destroyed. These sites include the People’s Liberation Monument, located in the center of Chongqing city. It used to be the highest building in the area, but is now surrounded and dwarfed by numerous shopping centres. Originally named the Monument for the Victory over Axis Armies, it is the only building in China for that purpose. Today, the monument serves as a symbol for the city. The General Joseph W. Stilwell Museum, dedicated to General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, a World War II general.
Chongqing food is part of Sichuan cuisine. Chongqing is known for its spicy food. Its food is normally considered numbing because of the use of Sichuan pepper, also known as Sichuan peppercorn, containing hydroxy alpha sanshool. Chongqing’s city centre has many restaurants and food stalls where meals often cost less than RMB10. Local specialties here include dumplings and pickled vegetables and, different from many other Chinese cuisines, Chongqing dishes are suitable for the solo diner as they are often served in small individual sized portions.