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Tangzha on its way to becoming a world heritage


Updated: 2020-06-17


An aerial view of Tangzha town in Gangzha district, Nantong [Photo/ntfabu.com]

Tangzha town, located in Gangzha district, Nantong, is one of the birthplaces of national industry in modern China.

It is here that Zhang Jian, a well-known local business magnate and renowned academic, founded China's first large-scale cotton spinning business – the Dasheng Yarn Factory – in 1895. 

Following this success, Zhang established more than 20 businesses involved in oil extraction, flour milling, and iron and silk production in the town, forming an industrial cluster centered on the yarn factory.

All the factories and major commercial streets were located on the west side of the Nantong-Yangzhou Canal, while on the eastern bank, Zhang built a series of public service facilities, including warehouses, schools, hospitals, and parks.

Bridges were constructed across the canal, connecting the east and the west and creating a modern town with prosperous industries and robust infrastructure.

Over the past century, the town has experienced wars and social turbulence, but has maintained a large amount of its historical features, including the layout, buildings, and production equipment.

In 2007, a research team was established to explore the historical value of Tangzha town. A series of essays were then published, hailing it as the best preserved modern industrial town in China.

Since then, panels of experts, including Li Xiaojie, then director of National Cultural Heritage Administration, and Shan Jixiang, then director of the Palace Museum, toured the town and gave advice on how to protect and develop the remains.

In 2013, the work report of the Nantong government pointed out that more efforts should be made to protect Tangzha town and help it apply for world heritage status, which has been an important goal of the government ever since.

The protection of historical and cultural relics is a never-ending responsibility that requires efforts from the government, scholars and ordinary people.