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City Guide -- Yanan

Travel Guide of Yanan
Yan'an is located on the Loess Plateau in northern Shaanxi Province. The old town nestles against Phoenix Hill (Fenghuangshan), with Precious Pagoda Hill (Baotashan) to its east, Cool Hill (Qingliangshan) to its northeast, and the Yanhe River flowing by. The town was of great strategic importance in ancient wars, and is steeped in revolutionary traditions. It was here that Li Zicheng (1706-1645) and Zhang Xianzhong (1606-1646) launched an armed peasant rebellion which overthrew the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). And it was here, in October 1935, that the Chinese Worker's and Peasants' Red Army, after completing the 12,500 kilometers Long March, established a revolutionary base against the Japanese aggression. From 1937 to 1947, Yan'an was the seat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Thousands upon thousands of patriotic Chinese youths came here to join the revolutionary ranks against the Japanese invaders. During those hard years, they lived in caves, ate the millet they themselves grew and won the final victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. After the liberation of the country in 1949, places of historical significance relating to the revolution were preserved in Yan'an and have been visited by many from both home and abroad.
In medieval China, Yanan was once called Yanzhou, a location of strategic military importance for the Chinese empire and Tanguts of the Western Xia Dynasty. It was once successfully defended by the Song Dynasty (960-1279) era Chinese scientist, statesman, and general Shen Kuo (1031-1095 AD). However, it was eventually taken over by the Tanguts in 1082 once Shen's defensive victories were marginalized and sacrificed by the new Chancellor Cai Que (who handed the city over to the Tanguts as terms of a peace treaty). Yan'an and the whole of Shaanxi was taken over by the Mongols in the late 1220s, only after their leader Genghis Khan had died during the siege of the Western Xia capital in 1227. The city was maintained by the successive Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as well as the Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). After the fall of the Qing Dynasty the city fell into the hands of the newly-created Republic of China.
After the Long March Yanan become the area for intensive training of party members and army troops. In the troops, women dressed as men would because they felt that they should not have to look like women. Raping of the villagers from the army was virtually unheard of due to the army's discipline. In 1941, Chairman Mao put special influence on a series of training programs to "correct unorthodox tendencies" and essentially mold the peasantry to the communist model. One of the first CPC program launched was the Yan'an Rectification Movement.
During the Second World War almost all buildings, except a pagoda, were destroyed by Japanese bombing, and most inhabitants took to living in yaodongs, artificial caves or dugouts carved into hillsides which were traditional dwellings in Shaanxi. While Yan'an was the center of Chinese communist life many prominent Western journalists including Edgar Snow and Anna Louise Strong met with Mao Zedong and other important leaders for interviews. Politically, Yanan symbolizes for many a utopian period in modern China's history where Chinese communists sought to realize their idealized vision of life, culture, and social justice, and thus stands for a former "golden age" when communist principles and ideals were actively pursued by many sincere, youthful supporters.
During the Second World War, Yanan played host to the United States Army Observation Group, also known as the Dixie Mission. A joint military and civilian mission, it was sent to establish official ties with the Communists and explore possible plans of cooperation against the Japanese. The Americans had a presence in Yan'an from 1944 to 1947.

Yanan Travel Guide
By Wang Xuan

Yan'an , a beautiful mountain city, whenever it is mentioned , it is very natural to be connected with a fertile place famous for Chinese dates , millets, and apples, however ,most importantly , Yan'an is the spiritual home of the Chinese communist party.

In ancient times , it was named Yan Zhou , as the center of the northern part of Shaanxi province for politics, culture, economics and military. Because of its unique location, it communicates the Han culture and ethnic minority groups. Surrounded by Bao ta mountain ,Qing liang mountain and Feng huang mountain , it joins YanHe river and Nan Chuan He river, therefore ,ever since ancient times ,it was a vital military place , referred as “ Frontier throat” and “Important military town” . The name of Yan’an appeared in 607 ( Sui Dynasty) , the central government set the Yan’an county , it lasts till today.  About 1400 years ago, the famous Chinese militarist Fan zhongyan used to be the government official here, he highly praised that Yan’an was worth visiting , in Shui Jing Zhu ( literally “commentary on the waterways classic” , a work on the ancient geography of China ) it referred “ there is a kind of thick water , it is fertile to be burn “another politician and polymath Chinese scientist Shen kuo (1031-1095) used to check the mineral resources of Yan'an,afterwards, he made his conclusion and compiled it into his Dream Pool Essays in Song Dynasty and also called the liquid he discovered “petrol” , this scientific name came hundreds of years before the western world, meanwhile , he predicted that “ this substance will be overwhelming in the future……,there is so much , originated from the middle of the earth and inexhaustible.” In 1905 , the Manchu (Qing) government drilled the first oil well and since then, Yan'an became the birthplace of Chinese oil industry.


In Chinese modern history, we have a period of time referred as “ Yan'an Period”, which dates from January,1937 to March,1947, during this period ,the central committee of CPC(Communist Party of China), including Mao zedong , used to live and battle here. In the time of the Second Revolutionary War, Wang Ming ( the head of CPC in 1930s) lead the Army in the wrong way and lost in the fifth Counter-Encirclement Campaign, in this situation, the CPC central committee and the First Front of the Red Army started to transfer from the Base in Jiangxi province, after some 8000 miles of Long March in the extremely rough situations , the CPC Committee and Red Army arrived in Wuqi village in Shaanxi province in Oct19th ,1935, finally, stayed in Yan’an. Later, CPC constituted a series of policies ,guidelines ,developed Rectification Movement , trained many cadres and lead Large-Scale Production Campaign. This Period of time marked the turning point of CPC ,from weak to strong . Their life ,work and fight left a lot of traces in Yan’an ,therefore, Yan’an became the holy land of Chinese Revolution.


Apart from historical sites, Yan'an's natural beauty can be described as Spectacular , especially the Hukou waterfall (literally “the outlet of teapot”) , ranked as the second largest waterfall in China, belongs to the Yan’an section of Yellow river, it is quite a marvel as the unique Golden waterfall in the world. Because of the natural ecological reason, the water presents yellow and golden color with the earth dissolve in , the hue just matches its surroundings, the yellow plateau and valley .The riparian line zigzags, the span of the river open and close as the seasons change , the turbulent current flows like vigorous music notes jumping up and down, playing a great symphony ,which definitely touchs everyone's soul deeply.


The people of Yan'an have been in this magic land generations and generations, working very hard to struggle with the nature, you can hear the singing of the life , it gradually deposits and forms its special characteristics of the culture, which named the “Yellow Culture”. Now this culture has been spread all around with the help of tourism ,media and their own performances, An Sai Waist Drum, Zhi Dan Fan Drum  are played wherever there is an important ceremony or show. While the fork art like: Yan’an paper cut , farmers’ painting and embroidery reveal the pure but colorful atmosphere and culture of Yan'an. (By Wang Xuan)   



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