Friday 16 March 2018

CHINA: Guangdong A Diner's Paradise, Richest And Most Populous Province But Infested With Petty Crime, Pickpockets And Homelessness, Prostitution Is Illegal But Common.

Guangdong is a province in Southeast China on the border with Hong Kong. Guangdong is a province in South China, located on the South China Sea coast.

Traditionally romanised as Kwangtung, Guangdong surpassed Henan and Sichuan to become the most populous province in China in January 2005.

It registered 79.1 million permanent residents and 31 million migrants who lived in the province for at least six months of the year.

The total population was 104,303,132 in the 2010 census, accounting for 7.79 percent of Mainland China's population.

This also makes it the most populous first-level administrative subdivision of any country outside the former British Raj, as its population is surpassed only by those of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the Indian states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

The provincial capital Guangzhou and economic hub Shenzhen are among the most populous and important cities in China. The population increase since the census has been modest, the province at 2015 had 108,500,000 people.

Since 1989, Guangdong has topped the total GDP rankings among all provincial-level divisions, with Jiangsu and Shandong second and third in rank.

According to state statistics, Guangdong's GDP in 2017 reached 1.42 trillion US dollars (CNY 8.99 trillion), making its economy roughly the same size as Mexico.

Since 1989, Guangdong has had the highest GDP among all provinces of Mainland China. The province contributes approximately 12% of the PRC's national economic output.

It is home to the production facilities and offices of a wide-ranging set of Chinese and foreign corporations.

Guangdong also hosts the largest import and export fair in China, the Canton Fair, hosted in the provincial capital of Guangzhou.

In the era of tea clippers, both Guangdong and its capital Guangzhou were often referred to on maps and in spoken English as Canton.

This usage continues today but to a much lesser extent with the transliterated Chinese name being used instead.

Other versions no longer used include Kwangtung. The food and language of the area are still known as Cantonese. Much of what is associated with overseas Chinese food and culture has its origins here.

Guangdong borders the South China Sea and surrounds Hong Kong and Macau. Long a provincial backwater, the province's economic fortunes changed dramatically when Deng Xiaoping initiated economic reforms in 1978.

Home to three of the country's Special Economic Zones and to a burgeoning manufacturing industry, Guangdong is now the richest province in China.

It is also the most populous Chinese provinces, with approximately 110 million people, more than all but ten countries.

The major cities in Guangdong have been magnets for migrant workers from poor inland provinces since the 1980s. In many cities this has led to problems with petty crime and homelessness.

It also means that Mandarin is increasingly widely spoken and many taxi drivers or service staff are more conversant in Mandarin than the local versions of Cantonese.

Many overseas Chinese, particularly those which emigrated before 1949, trace their roots to Guangdong, although many are from other coastal provinces such as Fujian or the area around Shanghai.

The Chinese food most familiar to Westerners is basically Cantonese cooking, albeit sometimes adapted for the customers' tastes.

Guangdong has a subtropical climate. Annual rainfall averages 1500-2000 millimeters and temperature averages 19C - 26C. Summers are very hot, humid and wet and there may be typhoons.

By May the temperature gauge is easily in the 30's with the humidity and air pollution making feel even hotter. The best time to visit Guangdong is in the Spring or Autumn.

Originally inhabited by a mixture of tribal groups known to the Chinese as the Baiyue, the region first became part of China during the Qin dynasty.

Chinese administration and reliable historical records in the region began with the Qin dynasty. After establishing the first unified Chinese empire, the Qin expanded southwards and set up Nanhai Commandery at Panyu, near what is now part of Guangzhou.

The region was independent as Nanyue between the fall of Qin and the reign of Emperor Wu of Han.

The Han dynasty administered Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam as Jiaozhi Province, southernmost Jiaozhi Province was used as a gateway for traders from the west—as far away as the Roman Empire.

Under the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms period, Guangdong was made its own province, the Guang Province, in 226.

As time passed, the demographics of what is now Guangdong gradually shifted to Han Chinese dominance as the populations intermingled due to commerce along the great canals.

Abruptly shifted through massive migration from the north during periods of political turmoil and nomadic incursions from the fall of the Han dynasty onwards.

For example, internal strife in northern China following the rebellion of An Lushan resulted in a 75% increase in the population of Guangzhou prefecture between 740s–750s and 800s–810s.

As more migrants arrived, the local population was gradually assimilated to Han Chinese culture or displaced.

Together with Guangxi, Guangdong was made part of Lingnan Circuit, or Mountain-South Circuit, in 627 during the Tang dynasty.

The Guangdong part of Lingnan Circuit was renamed Guangnan East Circuit guang nan dong lu in 971 during the Song dynasty (960–1279). Guangnan East is the source of Guangdong.

As Mongols from the north engaged in their conquest of China in the 13th century, the Southern Song court fled southwards from its capital in Hangzhou.

The defeat of the Southern Song court by Mongol naval forces in The Battle of Yamen 1279 in Guangdong marked the end of the Southern Song dynasty (960–1279).

During the Mongol Yuan dynasty, large parts of current Guangdong belonged to Jiangxi. Its present name, Guangdong Province was given in early Ming dynasty.

Since the 16th century, Guangdong has had extensive trade links with the rest of the world. European merchants coming northwards via the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, particularly the Portuguese and British, traded extensively through Guangzhou.

Macau, on the southern coast of Guangdong, was the first European settlement in 1557.

In the 19th century, the opium traded through Guangzhou triggered the First Opium War, opening an era of Western imperialists' incursion and intervention in China.

In addition to Macau, which was then a Portuguese colony, Hong Kong was ceded to the British, and Kwang-Chou-Wan the modern day area of Zhanjiang to the French.

Due to the large number of people that emigrated out of the Guangdong province, many overseas Chinese communities have their origins in Guangdong.

The Cantonese language, therefore, has proportionately more speakers among overseas Chinese people than mainland Chinese. Consequently, many Mandarin Chinese words originally of foreign origin come from the original foreign language by way of Cantonese.

In the United States, there is a large number of Chinese who are descendants of immigrants from the city of Taishan or Toisan in Cantonese, who speak a distinctive dialect related to Cantonese called Taishanese or Toishanese.

During the 1850s, the Taiping Rebellion, whose leader Hong Xiuquan was born in Guangdong and received a pamphlet from a Protestant Christian missionary in Guangdong, became a widespread civil war in southern China.

Because of direct contact with the West, Guangdong was the center of anti-Manchu and anti-imperialist activity. The generally acknowledged founder of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, was also from Guangdong.

During the early 1920s of the Republic of China, Guangdong was the staging area for Kuomintang (KMT) to prepare for the Northern Expedition, an effort to bring the various warlords of China back under the central government.

Whampoa Military Academy was built near Guangzhou to train military commanders.

In recent years, the province has seen extremely rapid economic growth, aided in part by its close trading links with Hong Kong, which borders it. It is now the province with the highest gross domestic product in China.

In 1952, a small section of Guangdong's coastline was given to Guangxi, giving it access to the sea. This was reversed in 1955, and then restored in 1965.

Hainan Island was originally part of Guangdong, but it was separated as its own province in 1988.

Guangdong faces the South China Sea to the south and has a total of 4,300 km (2,700 mi) of coastline. Leizhou Peninsula is on the southwestern end of the province.

There are a few inactive volcanoes on Leizhou Peninsula. The Pearl River Delta is the convergent point of three upstream rivers: the East River, North River, and West River.

The river delta is filled with hundreds of small islands. The province is geographically separated from the north by a few mountain ranges collectively called the Nan Mountains (Nan Ling).

The highest peak in the province is Shikengkong with an elevation of 6,240 feet (1,902 meters) above sea level.

Guangdong borders Fujian to the northeast, Jiangxi and Hunan to the north, Guangxi autonomous region to the west, and Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions to the south.

Hainan is offshore across from the Leizhou Peninsula. The Pratas Islands, which were traditionally governed as part of Guangdong, are now administered by the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Cities around the Pearl River Delta include Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Shunde, Taishan, Zhongshan and Zhuhai.

Other cities in the province include Chaozhou, Chenghai, Nanhai, Shantou, Shaoguan, Zhanjiang, Zhaoqing, Yangjiang and Yunfu.

Guangdong has a humid subtropical climate, though nearing a tropical climate in the far south. Winters are short, mild, and relatively dry, while summers are long, hot, and very wet.

Average daily highs in Guangzhou in January and July are 18 °C (64 °F) and 33 °C (91 °F), respectively, although the humidity makes it feel much hotter in summer. Frost is rare on the coast but may happen a few days each winter well inland.

The economy of Guangdong is large enough to be compared to that of many countries. in 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) is about $1104.05 billion, Guangdong has been the largest province by GDP since 1989 in Mainland China.

Guangdong is responsible for 10.66 percent of the China' $10.36 trillion GDP. In 2015, Guangdong's GDP is slightly larger than that of Mexico ranking 15th in terms of US dollar or Purchasing Power Parity.

Comparable to that of country subdivisions in dollar terms, Guangdong's GDP is larger than that of all but 6 country subdivisions: England, California, Texas, New York and Tokyo. It is comparable to the GDP of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

This is a trend of official estimates of the gross domestic product of the Province of Guangdong with figures in millions of Chinese Yuan.

After the communist revolution and until the start of the Deng Xiaoping reforms in 1978, Guangdong was an economic backwater, although a large underground, service-based economy has always existed.

Economic development policies encouraged industrial development in the interior provinces which were weakly joined to Guangdong via transportation links.

The government policy of economic autarky made Guangdong's access to the ocean irrelevant.

Deng Xiaoping's open door policy radically changed the economy of the province as it was able to take advantage of its access to the ocean, proximity to Hong Kong, and historical links to overseas Chinese.

Until the 1990s when the Chinese taxation system was reformed, the province benefited from the relatively low rate of taxation placed on it by the central government due to its post-Liberation status of being economically backward.

Guangdong's economic boom began with the early 1990s and has since spread to neighboring provinces, and also pulled their populations inward.

The economic growth of Guangdong province owes much to the low-value-added manufacturing which characterized and in many ways still defines the province's economy following Deng Xiaoping's reforms.

Guangdong is not only China's largest exporter of goods, it is the country's largest importer as well.

The province is now one of the richest in the nation, with the most billionaires in mainland China, the highest GDP among all the provinces, although wage growth has only recently begun to rise due to a large influx of migrant workers from neighboring provinces.

In 2011, Guangdong's aggregate nominal GDP reached 5.30 trillion RMB (US$838.60 billion) with a per capita GDP of 47,689 RMB.

By 2015, the local government of Guangdong hopes that the service industry will account for more than 50 percent of the provinces GDP and high-tech manufacturing another 20 percent.

In 2009, Guangdong's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 201 billion yuan, 1.93 trillion yuan, and 1.78 trillion yuan, respectively.

Its per capita GDP reached 40,748 yuan (about US$5,965). Guangdong contributes approximately 12% of the total national economic output.

It has three of the six Special Economic Zones: Shenzhen, Shantou and Zhuhai. The affluence of Guangdong, however, remains very concentrated near the Pearl River Delta.

In 2008 its foreign trade also grew 7.8% from the previous year and is also by far the largest of all of China.

By numbers, Guangdong's foreign trade accounts for more than a quarter of China's US$2.56 trillion foreign trade or roughly US$683 billion.

Guangdong officially became the most populous province in January 2005. Official statistics had traditionally placed Guangdong as the 4th-most populous province of China with about 80 million people.

Sichuan, traditionally the most populous province, was divided into Sichuan and Chongqing in 1997.

Recent information suggests that there are an additional 30 million migrants who reside in Guangdong for at least six months every year.

This making it the most populous province with a population of more than 110 million.

The massive influx of migrants from other provinces, dubbed the floating population, is due to Guangdong's booming economy and high demand for labor.

If Guangdong were an independent nation, it would rank among the twenty largest countries of the world by population, more populous than France, Germany, or the United Kingdom, and more populous than the largest three US states - California, Texas, and Florida combined.

Guangdong is also the ancestral home of large numbers of overseas Chinese. Most of the railroad laborers in Canada, Western United States and Panama in the 19th century came from Guangdong.

Many people from the region also travelled to the US / California during the gold rush of 1849, and also to Australia during its gold rush a decade or so later.

The majority of the province's population is Han Chinese. Within the Han Chinese, the largest subgroup in Guangdong are the Cantonese people.

Two other major groups are the Teochew people in Chaoshan and the Hakka people in Huizhou, Meizhou, Heyuan, Shaoguan and Zhanjiang.

There is a small Yao population in the north. Other smaller minority groups include She, Miao, Li, and Zhuang.

Guangdong has a highly unbalanced gender ratio that is among the highest of all provinces in China. According to a 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal, in the 1–4 age group, there are over 130 boys for every 100 girls.

According to a 2012 survey only around 7% of the population of Guangdong belongs to organised religions, the largest groups being Buddhists with 6.2%, followed by Protestants with 0.8% and Catholics with 0.2%.

Around 93% of the population is either irreligious or may be involved in Chinese folk religions worshipping nature gods, ancestral deities, popular sects, Taoist traditions, Buddhist religious traditions & Confucian religious traditions.

According to a survey conducted in 2007, 43.71% of the population believes and is involved in ancestor veneration,the traditional Chinese religion of the lineages organised into lineage churches and ancestral shrines.

Guangdong is governed by a dual-party system like the rest of China. The Governor is in charge of provincial affairs; however, the Communist Party Secretary, often from outside of Guangdong, keeps the Governor in check.

Hong Kong and Macau, while historically parts of Guangdong before becoming colonies of the United Kingdom and Portugal, respectively, are special administrative regions (SARs).

Furthermore, the Basic Laws of both SARs explicitly forbid provincial governments from intervening in local politics.

As a result, many issues with Hong Kong and Macau, such as border policy and water rights, have been settled by negotiations between the SARs' governments and the Guangdong provincial government.

The central region, which is also the political and economic center, is populated predominantly by Yue Chinese speakers,

This though the influx in the last three decades of millions of Mandarin-speaking immigrants has slightly diminished Cantonese linguistic dominance.

This region is associated with Cantonese cuisine. Cantonese opera is a form of Chinese opera popular in Cantonese speaking areas. Related Yue dialects are spoken in most of the western half of the province.

The area comprising the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang in coastal east Guangdong, known as Chaoshan, forms its own cultural sphere.

The Teochew people here, along with Hailufeng people in Shanwei, speak Teochew, which is a Min dialect closely related to mainstream Southern Min (Hokkien) and their cuisine is Teochew cuisine.

Teochew opera is also well-known and has a unique form.

The Hakka people live in large areas of Guangdong, including Huizhou, Meizhou, Shenzhen, Heyuan, Shaoguan and other areas.

Much of the Eastern part of Guangdong is populated by the Hakka people except for the Chaozhou and Hailufeng area.

Hakka culture include Hakka cuisine, Han opera, Hakka Hanyue and sixian traditional instrumental music and Hakka folk songs.

Zhanjiang in southern Guangdong is dominated by the Leizhou dialect, a variety of Minnan; Cantonese and Hakka are also spoken there.

Mandarin is the language used in education and government and in areas where there are migrants from other provinces, above all in Shenzhen.

Cantonese maintains a strong and dominant position in common usage and media, even in eastern areas of the province where the local languages and dialects are non-Yue ones.

Guangdong Province is notable for being the birthplace of many famed Xiangqi (Chinese chess) grandmasters such as Lu Qin, Yang Guanli, Cai Furu and Xu Yinchuan.

Eastern Guangdong - the coastal area east of the Pearl River Delta including the prefectures of Shanwei, Jieyang, Shantou and Chaozhou

Northern Guangdong - the inland part of Guangdong including the prefectures of Yunfu, Zhaoqing, Qingyuan, Shaoguan, Heyuan and Meizhou

Pearl River Delta - the world's workshop, a major manufacturing area. Guangdong produces a third of China's total exports and most of those are from the Delta region.

The area from Shenzhen to Guangzhou is essentially one massive factory city. The region includes the prefectures of Jiangmen, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen and Huizhou

Western Guangdong - the coastal area west of the Pearl River Delta including the prefectures of Zhanjiang, Maoming and Yangjiang

Cities in Guangdong Province

Guangzhou - largest city and capital of the province; economic, political and cultural center

Dongguan - center for the garment trade, light manufacturing, and electronics, between Guangzhou and Shenzhen

Qingyuan - popular amongst local travelers for its white-water rafting and hot springs.

Shantou - on the coast North of Hong Kong, SEZ

Shaoguan - located in northern Guangdong

Shenzhen - boom town on border with Hong Kong, SEZ

Zhongshan - Hometown of the revolutionary father of modern China, Sun Yatsen, and now a major industrial city southwest of Guangzhou

Zhanjiang - in the West, near Hainan

Zhuhai - fast growing town on border with Macau, SEZ

Shenzhen. Zhuhai and Shantou are Special Economic Zones (SEZs) where various government programs encourage investment.

Notable attractions include Danxia Mountain, Yuexiu Hill, Baiyun Mountain in Guangzhou, Star Lake and the Seven Star Crags, Dinghu Mountain, and the Zhongshan Sun Wen Memorial Park for Sun Yat-sen in Zhongshan.

Kaiping - A small town famous for its mixture of western and eastern style castle-like dwellings built by overseas Chinese and the setting for the popular Chinese film called Let the Bullets Fly.

Mandarin is widely spoken, almost universally by educated people, especially in areas like Shenzhen and Zhuhai which have been built through migration from all across China.

The historic language of the region is still Cantonese which differs from Mandarin as much as French differs from Italian or Spanish.

Cantonese or Guangdongren people are extremely proud of their language, this applies to neighboring Hong Kong as well and continue to use it widely despite endless efforts at Mandarinization.

Cantonese itself is more closely related to the language of the great Tang Dynasty than the more modern circa Yuan Dynasty, Mandarin.

Cantonese people worldwide thus tend to refer to themselves as Tong Yan or People of the Tang in Cantonese rather than Han, the standard appellation for all ethnic Chinese.

Note that there can be significant dialectal variations within Cantonese itself, and the Cantonese spoken in areas in the far Western reaches of Guangdong and neighboring eastern Guangxi Province as well.

For instance Taishan are only marginally, or sometimes even not mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong or Guangzhou.

Cantonese is also the native language of the neighboring northeastern part of Guangxi province. Nevertheless, the Guangzhou dialect of Cantonese is considered to be the prestige or standardized dialect.

Its is generally understood throughout the Cantonese-speaking areas. Note that in Hong Kong, Cantonese enjoys official status.

At the coastal areas near the Southern border of Fujian, most notably Chaozhou and Shantou, a variant of Minnan Hokkien-Taiwanese known commonly as Teochew, the native pronunciation of Chaozhou is spoken.

Teochew is not mutually intelligible with Cantonese, but is mutually intelligible with the Xiamen/Taiwanese dialect of Minnan to a small degree.

Certain parts of the province are also home to Hakka communities, and they speak the Hakka dialect, which is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin or Teochew. However the Hakka dialect is partially intelligible with Cantonese.

There are several large modern airports in the region: Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau have many international flights; Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou cater almost entirely for domestic Chinese flights.

The area is also well connected to the rest of China by road and rail.

There are also many ports, mainly container ports handling massive freight traffic (2.4 million tons in 2003), but with some passenger services.

In particular, there are ferries mostly fast hydrofoils connecting Hong Kong and Macau with the neighboring Guangdong cities Shenzhen and Zhuhai, and some even run upriver to Guangzhou.

Foreign nationals from 51 countries who transit through Guangzhou Airport when flying between two different countries, for example, London-Guangzhou-Auckland qualify for a 72-hour visa-free stopover.

For the purpose of the policy, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are treated as international flights, for example, London-Guangzhou-Taipei would qualify.

The name of the policy is a bit of a misnomer, as the 72 hour period actually begins at 00:01 after the day of arrival, for example, if you arrive in Guangzhou Airport at 09:00 on 1 January, you can stay until 23:59 on 4 January.

During the 72 hour visa-free stopover, you are allowed to move freely within Guangdong Province. You must fly into and fly out of Guangzhou Airport.

In China, there is an extensive rail network; Guangzhou is one of the major hubs. Rail is the main means of inter-city travel for the Chinese themselves, and many visitors travel that way as well.

The system now includes fast bullet trains on some routes; unless your budget is very tight, these are the best way to go fast, clean and comfortable.

All the major cities have airports with good domestic connections; some have international connections as well.

There is also an extensive highway network, much of it very good. Buses go almost anywhere, somewhat cheaper than the trains. Tao Bus operates coach services at competitive prices throughout Guangdong province. Driving yourself is also possible, but often problematic; see Driving in China.

Tourist spots to visitin Guangdong

- Star Lake in Zhaoqing

- Mount Xiqiao in Foshan

- Mount Danxia in Shaoguan

- Qingxin Hot Springs in Qingyuan

- Hailing Island's Dajiao Bay in Yangjiang

- Nanling national forest park in Shaoguan

- Baiyun Hill in Guangzhou

- Xiangjiang Wildlife Park in Guangzhou

- Overseas Chinese Town in Shenzhen

- Guanlan Golf Course in Shenzhen

- Yuanming New Park in Zhuhai

- Dr. Sun Yat-sen's birthplace in Zhongshan

A visitor will grasp an understanding of China's history and culture as well as experience the customs and cultural differences both between their own culture and China and between Guangdong and other regions of China.
Guangdong has a many restaurants, with Guangzhou in particular having a reputation as a diner's paradise.

Other than sit-down restaurants, bustling night markets provide an eclectic mix of inexpensive finger foods, snacks, and delicacies.

These markets are filled with shops and food carts integrating the eating and window-shopping experiences. Night markets are usually very crowded with both tourists and locals.

The major cities of Guangdong are heavily infested with pickpockets, and anyone who does not look Chinese is a prime target. For some info on defenses, see pickpockets.

As with everywhere else in Mainland China, prostitution is illegal but common. However the city of Foshan is the only jurisdiction in Mainland China that legalizes prostitution.

But only erotic massages or Happy Endings is legal. Homosexual prostitution is illegal and is known to be prosecuted.

Enjoy Guangdong.

Tourism Observer

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