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Nantong

China's Venice? Nantong: A city surrounded by the sea and the Yangtze river

Akira Yakubo / Jiangsu Saint Fruit Winery Co, Ltd.

The city of Nantong is located in the province of Jiangsu in south-eastern China, about 150km northwest of Shanghai on both sides of the Yangtze river. It has a population of approximately 7.8 million, and has a rich tradition in the textile, chemical, and shipbuilding industries. In 1984, it was the first of 14 coastal port cities to be designated as an “Open Maritime City.” Due to this, it has become known as one of the “birthplaces of China’s modern industry.” To the east is the Yellow sea, to the south is the Yangtze river. This prime location has drawn investors from all over the world, and in recent years the GDP growth rate has exceeded 13% and rapid economic development is being achieved. In April 2008, the world’s largest cable stayed bridge, the Su Dong bridge, was opened across the Yangtze river (at a total length of 32.4 km), improving transport convenience by making it possible to reach Shanghai Hongqiao international airport by car in just one and a half hours.

(1) What is there to see?
Recently, Nantong city is making great efforts in terms of tourism and creating a greener environment. Since ancient times water transport has been well-developed and due to the number of canals some of the locals call the city “China’s Venice.” In the central part of the city there are pleasure cruisers targeted at tourists that use the canal system, and in the evening it is possible to see a beautiful night cityscape enhanced by the lights from these pleasure boats.  However, in fall and winter the winds are so strong that one is chilled to the bone, so that this can really only be enjoyed in spring and summer. Nantong has changed a lot compared to when I first visited the city 10 years ago on business, which brought home to me once again the rapidness of the speed of China’s development.

(2) Are there any delicious things to try?
Since Nantong is close to both the sea and the Yangtze river, there are lots of marine products and it is famous for both Japanese littleneck and common orient clams, etc. but my personal recommendation would have to be the crab. In some restaurants it is possible to eat crabs that taste just as good as genuine Shanghai crab at about half the price of what you would pay in Shanghai. The season only lasts from late October until late January, but if you happen to be in Nantong at that time, please make sure you try them. 

(3) What are the people of Nantong like?
The key characteristic of the people of Nantong is their “serious, hardworking” nature. Primary school children study incredibly hard, working from 7 in the morning until 10 at night in a manner that would turn examination students in Tokyo pale by comparison. Their dedication is so great that in China, people say that one should “learn from Jiantsu province about how to conduct education,” and in Jiantsu province itself, people say that one should “learn from Nantong about how to conduct education.” Every year, the city produces large numbers of students who succeed in entering Beijing University and China’s other top universities. As someone who spent their youth in playing all the time, while thinking to myself, “studying isn’t everything you know!” I look forward to their future with anticipation.

 

Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.57(May, 2010)

  • The canals of Nantong city
  • My top recommendation: the fresh crab
  • The pleasure cruisers and night cityscape

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