Wenchow, Yujeu, Iu Tsiu
Left to right, top to bottom: City view of Wen, Wuma shopping street, the central city viewed from Bailuzhou Park, Pearl Beach, a suspension bridge in Taishun County.
Location of Wenzhou City jurisdiction in Zhejiang
Location of Wenzhou City jurisdiction in Zhejiang
Wenzhou is located in China
Location in China
Coordinates (Wenzhou municipal government): 27°59′38″N 120°41′57″E / 27.9938°N 120.6993°E / 27.9938; 120.6993
Country China
County-level divisions9
Municipal seatLucheng District
 • CPC City SecretaryZhang Zhenfeng (张振丰)
 • MayorZhang Wenjie (张文杰)
 • Land12,255.74 km2 (4,731.97 sq mi)
 • Urban
1,243.4 km2 (480.1 sq mi)
 (2020 census)[1]
 • Prefecture-level city9,572,903
 • Urban
 • Urban density2,900/km2 (7,500/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Rank in China
 • Prefecture-level cityCN¥ 873 billion
US$ 121.4 billion
 • Per capitaCN¥ 89,443
US$ 12,439
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code0577
ISO 3166 codeCN-ZJ-03
License Plate浙C
Spoken languageWenzhounese
"Wenzhou" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese温州
Traditional Chinese溫州
WuIu1-ciou1 (Wenzhounese)
Uen1tseu1 (Shanghainese)
Literal meaning"Wen[qiao Mountains] Prefecture"

Wenzhou[a] is a prefecture-level city in China's Zhejiang province. Wenzhou is located at the extreme southeast of Zhejiang, bordering Lishui to the west, Taizhou to the north, and the province of Fujian to the south. The area consists of mostly mountainous terrain, as well as hundreds of islands off the East China Sea coast, which is nearly 355 kilometres (221 miles) in length. It is said that the city's land is 70% mountains, 20% farmland, and 10% water.[3] At the time of the 2010 Chinese census, 3,039,500 people lived in Wenzhou's urban area.[4] The greater Wenzhou prefecture, which also includes three satellite cities and six counties, had a population totalling 9,122,100, of which 31.16% are residents originally from outside of Wenzhou.[5]

During the 19th century, the progenitor city of modern Wenzhou was known as Yungkia (Chinese: 永嘉, Yǒngjiā),[6] a prosperous foreign treaty port that remains well-preserved today. Being situated in the mountains, it has been isolated for most of its history from the rest of the country, making its local culture and language, known as Wenzhounese, particularly distinct, even from its direct neighbours. The city is also the native land of many emigrants to Europe and the United States, with many Wenzhounese immigrants abroad becoming entrepreneurs, restaurantiers, and retail and wholesale businesspeople in their adopted countries.[7] Wenzhou people make up a large proportion of the Chinese residents in Italy, constituting approximately 90% of Tuscany's Chinese population.[8] Significant concentrations of Wenzhounese also live in New York City, as well as across France and Spain.[9]


Ancient history

The area that would become Wenzhou has history tracing back to c.2500 BC, when it became known for its pottery production, and as one of the origins of celadon in ancient China.

Imperial China

In the early second century BC, shortly after the destruction of the Qin dynasty, military and political leader Zou Yao (驺摇) of Wenzhou helped Emperor Gaozu of Han, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, defeated the prominent warlord Xiang Yu of the Chu. After the victory, Gaozu's son Hui named Zhou Yao as the king of the Dong'ou kingdom, with its new capital near present-day Wenzhou. This polity would last from 191 BC until it was conquered by the Minyue kingdom in 138 BC.

Around 760, Emperor Gaozu of Tang became the earliest known figure to refer to the city by its present name, the label owing to the city's mild weather.

The city walls were built in the 10th century, and its seven gates were erected in 1598.[10]

Modern era

Throughout its history, Wenzhou's traditional economic role has been as a port giving access to the mountainous interior of southern Zhejiang Province. In early European sources, the name Wenzhou-Fu or -Foo was often transcribed Ouen-tcheou-fou or Wen-tcheou after the accounts of French-speaking missionaries.[11] In 1876, Wenzhou opened for tea exports, which led to a significant Wenzhounese diaspora of merchants in France, but no foreign settlement was ever established there.[10] Between 1937 and 1942, during the Second Sino-Japanese War (i.e., World War II), Wenzhou achieved importance as one of the few ports still under Chinese control. It declined in the later years of the war, but began to recover after coastal trade along the Zhejiang coast was re-established in 1955.

Fengshui of Wenzhou

Wenzhou is the only city in China designed by Guo Pu (郭璞), the father of the Fengshui philosophical system.[12][13] During the Jin Dynasty, Guo Pu organised Wenzhou on the basis of the Fengshui philosophical system along with the Twenty-Eight Mansions, and the Five Elements. These philosophies develop and manage architecture and geography as a whole in metaphoric terms of "invisible forces" that unite the universe, earth, and humanity together.[12][14][15][16]

Throughout its history, Wenzhou has avoided numerous militant activities that were originally set out to invade the city of Wenzhou. However, none of them were successful, and this protection is concluded [by whom?] to be the result of the Fengshui development of the city. [citation needed] During the Northern Song Dynasty, when the Fangla Revolution took place in the now Zhejiang province, the invading army surrounded Wenzhou for over 40 days, but the mountainous isolation blocked the army's movement and the army ended up retreating.[12][15][17]

Wenzhou is still considered [by whom?] to possess the best Feng Shui conditions and nature of all the Chinese cities. Other cities considered to possess excellent Fengshui nature are Beijing, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Kunming, Hengyang, and Shenzhen. However, none of these cities is designed entirely on the basis of philosophy of Fengshui or designed by the father of Fengshui, Guo Pu. People from all over China usually refer to the accomplishments and influence of Wenzhounese as a result of Wenzhou's Fengshui development by Guo Pu.

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Guo Pu

When Guo Pu climbed to the top of West Guo Mountain (西郭山) in Wenzhou, [clarification needed] he saw the range of mountains of Wenzhou shaped as a dipper and the city itself shaped as a key. Wenzhou is still nicknamed the "Dipper city" based on the popular geographical saying "mountains as dipper, city as key" (山如北斗城似锁).[18] Legend has it that during the time when Wenzhou was being established and developed, a white deer was seen in the city with a flower in its mouth, therefore Wenzhou is also known as "Deer City" (鹿城; Lùchéng).[10] Today, the Lucheng District is the name of downtown Wenzhou and the White Deer theater located at downtown is the most popular theater among the locals .[12]

Guo Pu is honoured today by the renaming of West Guo Mountain, where he stood to observe the city, into Guo Gong Mountain. At the bottom of Guo Gong Mountain, a temple was also built and named Guo Gong Temple. In 2003, the local government constructed a statue of Guo Pu in downtown Wenzhou.


Wenzhou (labelled as YUNG-CHIA (WENCHOW) 永嘉) (1953)
On the coast of the Dayu Bay in Cangnan County

With jurisdiction over four districts, two county-level cities and five counties, Wenzhou covers a land area of 11,784 km2 (4,550 sq mi) and sea area of 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). The population of the prefectural level city is 9.12 million including 2.30 million urban residents, divided among 3 county-level cities and 4 districts.

Most of Wenzhou's landscape is mountainous, with many mountain tops reaching altitudes in excess of 1,000 m (3,300 ft), for example in the Yandang Mountains, a coastal mountain range dominating the eastern part of prefecture. Another dominating landscape element is the Ou River, the largest river in Wenzhou prefecture. There are some coastal plains, notably around the mouth of the Ou (where the city proper of Wenzhou is located), the Nanxi River, a tributary of the Ou, and further south, around the mouth of the Feiyun River (in Rui'an, a county-level city). Coastal plains are used intensively for agriculture but also host much of the population and industry.

The 339 kilometres (211 mi) long coastline gives the city abundant marine resources and has many islands.[citation needed] Dongtou, one of the districts in Wenzhou, has also been called the "County of One Hundred Islands." Dongtou County was renamed as Dongtou District in September 2015 following the State Council-sanctioned administrative region adjustments.

Wenzhou boasts wonderful landscapes with rugged mountains and tranquil waters, including three state-level scenic spots, namely the Yandang Mountains, the Nanxi River and the Baizhangji Fall-Feiyun Lake, and two national nature reserves, the Wuyanling Ridge and the Nanji Islands. Yandang Mountain has been named as a World Geopark, while the Nanji Islands are listed a UNESCO Marine Nature Reserve of World Biosphere Reserves. Scenic areas account for 25% of the city's land space.


Wenzhou derives its present name from its climate, and has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) with short winters and long, hot, humid summers. Summers are similar to the remainder of the province (albeit slightly cooler during the daytime as compared to inland areas), but winter is much milder, partly due to the southerly location and partly due to the sheltering effect of the surrounding mountains. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from 8.7 °C (47.7 °F) in January to 28.7 °C (83.7 °F) in July and August, while the annual mean is 18.9 °C (66.0 °F). Heavy rainfalls occur in late spring and early summer due to the plum rains of the East Asian monsoon, while typhoons are commonly a threat in the second half of summer causing considerable damage and destruction. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 26% in March to 53% in August, the city receives 1,706 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Climate data for Wenzhou (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.6
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 12.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 5.9
Record low °C (°F) −4.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 12.5 13.8 17.6 16.6 16.9 18.4 13.6 16.2 12.8 8.3 10.7 10.2 167.6
Average snowy days 1.0 0.8 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 2.3
Average relative humidity (%) 72 75 77 78 80 84 80 79 76 71 73 70 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 94.4 90.7 99.2 118.1 121.0 111.5 193.8 183.4 149.7 146.6 110.7 103.4 1,522.5
Percent possible sunshine 29 29 27 31 29 27 46 46 41 41 35 32 34
Source: China Meteorological Administration[19][20][21]


Wenzhou World Trade Center
Rui'an, one of the satellite cities under Wenzhou's jurisdiction

The prefecture-level city of Wenzhou currently administers four districts, three county-level cities and five counties. Its population at 2010 census:[4]

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2020 Census)
Area(km2) Density(/km2)
1 Lucheng District 鹿城区 Lùchéng Qū 1,167,164 294.38 4,393
2 Longwan District 龙湾区 Lóngwān Qū 725,049 279 2,686
3 Ouhai District 瓯海区 Ōuhǎi Qū 963,238 614.5 1,622
4 Dongtou District 洞头区 Dòngtóu Qū 148,807 100 877
5 Rui'an City 瑞安市 Ruì'ān Shì 1,520,046 1,271 1,121
6 Yueqing City 乐清市 Yuèqīng Shì 1,453,090 1,174 1,183
7 Longgang City 龙港市 Lónggǎng Shì 464,695 184 2,525
8 Yongjia County 永嘉县 Yǒngjiā Xiàn 869,548 2,674 295
9 Pingyang County 平阳县 Píngyáng Xiàn 863,166 1,042 731
10 Cangnan County 苍南县 Cāngnán Xiàn 843,959 1,088 931
11 Wencheng County 文成县 Wénchéng Xiàn 288,168 1,271 167
12 Taishun County 泰顺县 Tàishùn Xiàn 265,973 1,762 132


Wuma Shopping Street
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Wenzhou exports food, tea, wine, jute, timber, paper and alunite (a non-metallic mineral used to make alum and fertilizer). Alunite is abundant and Wenzhou claims to be the "Alunite Capital of the World". Its 10 main industries each exceeding 1.5 billion dollars are electrical machinery, leather products, general equipment, power supply, plastic manufacturing, textile and garment, transport equipment, chemical products, metal products and metal processing.

From the 1990s, low-voltage electric appliances manufacturing became one of the major industries in Wenzhou, with some of the large private enterprises setting up joint ventures with GE and Schneider.

In 1994, exploration for oil and natural gas commenced in the East China Sea 100 km (62 mi) off the coast of Wenzhou. Companies such as Texaco, Chevron, Shell and JAPEX have started to drill for oil but the operations have been largely unsuccessful.

Wenzhou is a city full of vibrant business activities. When China began economic reforms in 1978, Wenzhou was the first city in China to set up individual and private enterprises as well as shareholder cooperatives. It has also taken the lead in carrying out financial system reform and structural reform in townships. Being a pioneer in utilizing marketing mechanism to develop urban constructions, Wenzhou has won a number of firsts in China and set many national records.

From 1978 through 2016, the GDP of Wenzhou, a third-tier city in China, has increased from 1.32 billion RMB to 504.54 billion RMB with the gross fiscal revenue increasing from 0.135 billion RMB to 72.4 billion RMB, and the disposable net per capita income for rural residents increasing from 113.5 RMB to 22,985 RMB. The per capita disposable income for urban residents increased from 422.6 RMB in 1981 to 47,785 RMB in 2016, which is among the highest in China.

Financial Reform Pilot Project

In late March 2012, China's State Council announced that Wenzhou would be the site of a pilot project for the reform of private investment rules. The city had been a significant source of illegal loans, and this project would legalize and provide a regulatory framework for such activities. It has been seen not only as an attempt to legitimize Wenzhou's private finance market, but also as a model for cleaning up underground lending in China as a whole.[22]

Birthplace of China's private economy

In the early days of economic reforms, local Wenzhounese took the lead in China in developing a commodity economy, household industries and specialized markets. Many thousands of people and families were engaged in household manufacturing to develop individual and private economy (private enterprise). Until now,[when?] Wenzhou has a total of 240,000 individually owned commercial and industrial units and 130,000 private enterprises of which 180 are group companies, four among China's top 500 enterprises and 36 among national 500 top private enterprises. There are 27 national production bases such as "China's Shoes Capital" and "China's Capital of Electrical Equipment", China's 40 famous trademarks and China's famous-brand products and 67 national inspection-exempt products in the city.[citation needed] The development of private economy in Wenzhou has created the "Wenzhou Economic Model", which inspires the modernization drive in China.[citation needed]

The city of Wenzhou is a world leader in lighter manufacturing with over 500 such companies in the city.[23] The plastic weaving cluster in Wenzhou comprised 1600 enterprises in 2001, employing 42,000 people with an annual output value of 20 billion Yuan. The Local cluster comprised 400 manufacturers in 2001 with a total output of 5 billion Yuan, representing 65 percent of the domestic market share. The cluster is the first in China in terms of market share and sold it products to 60 countries.[24]

There are many areas in which people of Wenzhou opened the first example of private economy in post-1949 China. For instance, Juneyao Airlines started in July 1991, which is the first private airline company in China. Jinwen Rail Way is also the first rail way company which is built with private capital.

Industrial zones

Wenzhou Economic & Technological Development Zone was established and approved by State Council in 1992. The main traffic system around the zone include No.104 National Highway, Ningbo-Wenzhou Expressway and Wenzhou Bridge. It is located near to Wenzhou International Airport and Wenzhou Port. Industries encouraged in the zone include electrical equipment, electronic information, chemical medicine, building materials, and textiles.[25]

Located in the east of the city proper, it has an overall planned area of 3.3 million [??] square kilometers, with industrial focuses mainly on logistics, cultural and tourism industry, smart manufacturing, information technology, as well as electronics and petrochemical industry near the coastal area of Dongtou. The traffic system around the zone include the Oujiang Beikou Bridge.

Oufei Project

In 2014, the Oufei Project (Chinese: 欧飞工程) was initiated as a land reclamation project in Wenzhou. The original targeted area upon completion was 20.3×104 mu, with an estimated construction cost of 60 billion RMB.[26] The aim of the project is stated to promote economic development, and it would serve as the largest land reclamation project in China as of 2020.[27] In 2015 the project secured an 4.5 billion RMB in a low-interest long-term loans, receiving provincial-level support.[28] The tideland reclamation was accomplished using a vacuum preloading method, with a planned size of 323.4 square kilometers.[29] There was some academic criticism of the project's potential damage to waterbird coastal habitats.[30]



The Wenzhou Longwan International Airport serves the Wenzhou area, with scheduled flights to major cities in mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Macau. New direct air routes to Taipei and Cheju Island of South Korea were introduced in 2012. The airport is situated on the southeast of the city (approximately 20 km (12 mi) away). It's been graded as Category B civil airport, serving a population of 20 million spanning areas of Wenzhou, Taizhou and Lishui of Zhejiang and Ningde of the neighbouring Fujian. The correlated GDP of the area reaches 300 billion RMB.

The Airport started opening up in 1995 and direct flight to Macau was approved. Air route to Hong Kong was open in 1996. Linking 65 cities in the country with 34 permanently operating air routes, the Airport is among the fastest-growing and profitable among its peers in China.

The Airport ranks first in terms of passenger transit among cities of same level in China. In 2004, the Airport handled 29,700 landings, a passenger transit of 2.439 million, cargo throughput of 38,500 tons.

The new Terminal 2 was launched on 1 June 2018, which handle all domestic flights. The Terminal 1 was changed to international terminal that handles all international and regional (specifically from Wenzhou to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) flights. The Terminal 2 is equipped with 21 boarding bridges, 22 security check passages, 52 check-in counters (four check-in zones, A, B, C, and D) and 6 luggage claim systems. The launch of Terminal 2 is a huge milestone in the history of Wenzhou air traffic development.[31]


Wenzhou South railway station

Because of Wenzhou's geographic location, it is difficult to build a railway to connect it with other cities. Wenzhou's first railway, the Jinhua–Wenzhou railway, opened on 11 June 1998. The railway runs from Wenzhou railway station northwest to Jinhua and is operated by the Jinwen Railway Company. The railway has a total length of 251 km (156 mi), including 135 bridges of 14 km (8.7 mi) in length 96 tunnels of 35 km (22 mi) in length. The Jinwen Railway was the first in China to be built with local capital, and gave birth to China's first standardized joint-stock enterprise: Zhejiang Jinwen Railway Development Co., Ltd.[32]

In September 2009, two high-speed railways opened in Wenzhou. The Ningbo–Taizhou–Wenzhou railway runs north to Hangzhou, and the Wenzhou–Fuzhou railway, runs south to Xiamen.[33] Both lines accommodate high-speed CRH (China Railway High-speed) trains running at speeds of up to 200 km/h (120 mph) and have dramatically shortened rail travel time to neighboring cities. The Jinhua–Wenzhou high-speed railway was opened on 26 December 2015.[34]

Lucheng District in Wenzhou was the site of China's only major high-speed rail accident to date.

Rapid transit

Main article: Wenzhou Rail Transit

Wenzhou Mass Transit Railway Investment Group was launched in February 2011 with registered capital of 2 billion RMB, sole purpose being in the design, investment, construction and operation of the Wenzhou Mass Transit Rail Corporation, which will consist of regional (S-series lines) and local rapid transit lines in Wenzhou. The S-Lines serve regional transportation among Wenzhou's Counties and Districts. The first line, Line S1 stretching 53.5 kilometers, opened on 23 January 2019. Construction of Line S2 started on 30 December 2015. A preliminary application with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is underway for the initiation of the construction of metro lines M1 and M2, with a total length of 60.4 km (37.5 mi).

Yongjia School of Thought

Yongjia School of Thought (simplified Chinese: 永嘉学派; traditional Chinese: 永嘉學派) is considered as one of the most distinctive schools of thought in the history of China and was one of the three most influential schools of thought in the Song Dynasty. It has a prestigious status in the world of Chinese philosophy. For centuries, it has been the cultural gene of native people in Wenzhou and has exerted influence on China for centuries since its origin in the Song Dynasty.[35][36][37]

Main characteristics

There are four main characteristics and aspects of the Yongjia School of Thought. Firstly, it emphasizes the significance of "practice" over pure "theory." Secondly, it proposes that "chivalry" should not be divorced from "welfare." Thirdly, it promotes the conglomeration of agriculture and commerce. Last but not least, it underscores the significance of powerful military and economic prosperity.[36][37]

Market economy and Capitalism

Yongjia School of Thought is arguably the only prestigious Chinese school of thought of which the main teachings emphasize currency, commerce, and private economy. Modern scholars attribute the unprecedented economic prosperity in the Song Dynasty to the influence of Yongjia School of Thought.[36][37]

Chinese opera

During the Northern Song Dynasty in the 12th century, Nan Opera, also called as the Wenzhou Opera and Yongjia Opera, was produced in Wenzhou as the earliest form of traditional Chinese Opera in the history of China.[38][39][40] In its early stage of development, Nan Opera developed and matured rapidly along with the prosperous economic activities that were taking place in Wenzhou influenced by Yongjia School of Thought. Wenzhou as a prosperous treaty port back in Southern Song Dynasty expanded the influence of Nan Opera greatly. Since then, Nan Opera gained its great influence in China and reached its peak in Yuan Dynasty and remained its prominent status in Ming Dynasty.

In the time period of late Yuan Dynasty, the original rulers of the country significantly lost their political power and that gave Nan Opera of Wenzhou a period of time in which it faced almost no resistance in development. Therefore, in late Yuan Dynasty, Nan Opera of Wenzhou reached its highest peak historically and later in Ming Dynasty, its original Wenzhou tone of Opera sung in Wenzhounese lost its influence and was mostly replaced by Kun Shan tone of Opera. Later on, because of the replacement in tone, Nan Opera gradually transcended into its later form chuanqi, and remained its influence and became one of the major forms of drama in Ming Dynasty.[41]

Role distribution system

On the stage setting of a Nan Opera performance, there are generally seven role distribution elements, Life (), Denier (), Ugliness (), Clarity (), Finale (, Exterior (), Attachment (), with the main drama plot developed around Life () and Denial () complemented usually by Ugliness (), Clarity (), and Finale (). This stage setting system of Nan Opera invented in Wenzhou with seven-element role distribution principle is the earliest complete on-stage role distribution principle system in the history of Chinese Opera.[42][43][44]

Four Miracles of Yuan Dynasty

Although Nan opera is the first mature form of traditional Chinese opera, throughout its history of development unlike that of many other later forms of Chinese opera, Nan opera was generally disregarded and repelled by the officials in early Yuan Dynasty who held great contempt for the Southern Chinese people.

Despite the great resistance, local Wenzhounese that kept on developing Nan Drama still managed to compose extraordinary works respectively named as the "Jing Cha Tale", "Bai Tu Tale", "Bai Yue Ting", and "Sha Gou Ji", which were later known as the "Four Miracles" of Yuan Dynasty.[citation needed] According to modern studies, at least half of the Four Miracles were entirely created by local Wenzhounese artists with no non-local supplements and the other two consisting of some non-local supplements.[39]

Tale of the Pipa

Tale of the Pipa (or Tale of Lute) created by local Wenzhounese Gao Ming is a work of Nan opera that represents its highest quality and essence in its highest peak of influence in mid-Yuan Dynasty.[41]

It is called the connecting bridge of the time of Nan opera and the time of chuanqi. The creation of Tale of the Pipa is among the greatest achievements of Chinese Opera and has had an enormous impact on composition of traditional Chinese opera, and therefore, it is usually called as the "Ancestor of all Plays" in China along with Nan drama being called as the "Ancestor of all Operas" in China. In the 19th century, Tale of the Pipa was translated into English, French, German and Latin.[45][46][47] Ever since it was published in modern era, the Lute Song has been significant in the history of Western appreciation of Chinese literature.

The first translation of Lute Song was published in 1841 in Paris by Imprimerie Royale, written by Antoine (A. P. L.) Bazin titled Le Pi-pa-ki ou l'Histoire de Luth, making the history of the first chuanqi play published in a Western language[48] In 1946, American musical comedy based on Tale of the Pipa, titled Lute Song written by Will Irwin, Sidney Howard and starred Yul Brenner and Mary Martin, was produced on Broadway.[49]

Nancy Reagan

Tale of the Pipa is also the only Broadway appearance of then-future First Lady of the United States Nancy Reagan.[50] In the play of Lute Song, Nancy Reagan "dyed her brown hair black and slanted her eyes like a real oriental girl",[51] and the show's producer told her, "You look like you could be Chinese".[52]

Like all the other Nan Opera plays written by local Wenzhounese artists majorly in the original language of Wenzhounese, the Lute Song is known for its complex linguistic demands which has caused international scholars to mainly focus on the shorter, and more accessible version as to their own concepts of the opera.[53]

Four forms of Nan opera

After the invention of Nan opera in Wenzhou in the 12th century, Nan Opera soon after started to spread its influence all across China as the first-ever mature form of Chinese opera. At the time in Ming Dynasty, the original form of Nan Opera sung in Wenzhounese lost its influence because of its universality and evolved into 4 different forms that were sung in four different tones(melodies). However, some scholars today argue that Nan Opera in Ming Dynasty were sung in five different tones (melodies).[54]

The original Nan Opera gave births to four different forms of itself in Ming Dynasty: Haiyan Tone (海盐腔), Yuyao Tone (余姚腔), Kunshan Tone (昆山腔), and Yiyang Tone (弋阳腔). Among the four forms, the most popular one today is known as the Kun Opera that evolved from the Kunshan Tone of Nan Opera in Ming Dynasty. Kun Opera is listed as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2001.[55]


Wenzhou has a long history of mathematics and many mathematical records in modern China are made by local Wenzhounese mathematicians and scholars. In 1896, the father of oracle bone script decipherment, Wenzhounese scholar Sun Yirang, founded the first-ever mathematics academy in the history of China, Ruian Mathematics Academy (瑞安學計館) in Wenzhou. A year later, in 1897, local Wenzhounese Huang Qingcheng founded the first-ever periodical of mathematics in China, "Journal of Arithmetic" (算学報). In 1899, a mathematical association was established in Wenzhou, named "Ruian Heaven Calculation Association" (瑞安天算學社), making the history of being the very first regional mathematical association in the history of China.[56][57][58][59][60][61]

Cradle of Mathematicians

Wenzhou is renowned as the cradle of mathematicians in the Greater China Region; it has given births to over 200 mathematicians known both internationally and domestically in the past 100 years. According to numerous reports, in the 20th century, over one-fourth to one-third of chairs of mathematics department of colleges and mathematical associations all over China were local Wenzhounese mathematicians and scholars. During 2002 International Mathematical Union conference in Beijing, a case study named "analysis of vast communal formation of Wenzhounese mathematicians" (温籍数学家群体成因分析) was discussed by mathematicians from all over the world. The goal of analyzing the case study was to understand and acknowledge the significance of the cultural influence of Wenzhounese mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics. The case study was also brought up during the conference to analyze the future trend of cultivating a new generation of mathematicians in China and around the world. Such a rare phenomenon has never existed in the history of the world as throughout the history of the city, Wenzhou has given births to more mathematicians more than any other city in the world.[62][63]

In an interview with local Wenzhounese mathematician, one of the pioneers of mathematics in modern China Su Buqing,[64] conducted by Wenzhounese science fiction writer Ye Yonglie, many unknown details of the local Wenzhou mathematics culture were revealed. Ye Yonglie was told by Su Buqing that "many of the chairs of math departments of major universities in China were local Wenzhounese and in the conferences of International Mathematical Union, the local language of Wenzhounese is the unofficial and second language of the union besides official language English." Moreover, when Ye Yonglie asked Su Buqing whether "the commonly shared Wenzhounese cuisine culture of consuming Large yellow croaker was one of the major reasons of the vast formation of local mathematicians", Su Buqing answered "No, no, no. It's rather because the entire area of Wenzhou is too poor to do science, and it only takes the cost of a pencil to do math, therefore, most of the Wenzhounese people just started to do math, and then, generations of local mathematicians just kept coming out of the city."[65]

Jiang Lifu

Wenzhounese mathematician Jiang Lifu is commonly considered as the father of mathematics and pioneer of geometry in modern China. Jiang was the second person in modern China's history to obtain a PhD in mathematics and the first to do so in Wenzhou. In 1920, he returned to China and founded the Department of Mathematics at Nankai University, the second-ever mathematics department in the history of modern China. He was the only professor and teacher in the department for the first four years and was very strict with his teaching and students.[66][67][68]

In 1940, Jiang became the chairman of the "Neo-China Mathematics Society." In 1947, Jiang founded the Institute of Mathematics of Academia Sinica and was the institute's founding director. He appointed his student, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, Shiing-Shen Chern to become the institute's acting director in Shanghai. Jiang also played a pioneering and fundamental role in encouraging and arranging foreign studies of mathematics for Chinese students in modern China in the early 20th century.[69]

Mathematician Shiing-Shen Chern once noted that "for many years, Mr. Jiang was the foremost leader in the field of mathematics in China"(在许多年的时间里,姜先生是中国数学界最主要的领袖). Su Buqing also noted that "his influence and contribution to mathematics in modern China is so grand that without him, mathematics in China would have been completely different"(他对中国现代数学事业功劳重大,影响至深,没有他,中国数学面貌将会是另一个样子).[68]

Shiing-Shen Chern

In October 2003, mathematician Shiing-Shen Chern visited Wenzhou as invited by Wenzhounese mathematician Gu Chaohao. During his visit, Chern wrote five words in Chinese calligraphy, "Home of Mathematicians," as he was marveled by the large number of prominent mathematicians and mathematical scholars from the city of Wenzhou.[68][70] Throughout Chern's life, he developed many close and meaningful relationships with mathematicians from Wenzhou.

For instance, Chern's first mathematics teacher, mentor, and professor in life is Wenzhounese mathematician, Jiang Lifu. Jiang was the second person in modern China's history to obtain a PhD in mathematics and founded the Department of Mathematics at Nankai University, Chern's alma mater. Chern once noted that "I specialize in geometry because of my professor in college, Dr. Jiang"(我从事几何大都亏了我的大学老师姜立夫博士) and "my fundamental mathematical education was all given by Mr. Jiang through dictation"(我的基本数学训练都是姜先生口授的).[70][71]

Taiwanese high-tech industry

Wenzhounese mathematician Shu Shien-Siu is today considered as the father of the high-tech industry in Taiwan while the high-tech industry today is considered to be the biggest contributor to Taiwan's economy. When Siu was the Minister of Science and Technology from 1973 to 1980, he proposed to establish the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Hsinchu in 1976.[72]

After Siu's revolutionary proposal, rounds of debate about the location of Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park unfolded. Chiang Ching-kuo argued that the park should be built in Longtan District in Taoyuan considering the potential benefits that could be drawn from National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology and future relationship between the military field and the park. However, Shu Shien-Siu argued that the park should be built in Hsinchu because what Taiwan and the park needed was creativity and private economic power that would stem from the people instead of the government and the military. Therefore, Siu said that it was not a wise decision to draw too much relation between the military and the science and industrial park. Also, Longtan District was a relatively remote place as compared to Hsinchu and thus, the potential of the park would be greatly diminished if it were to be built in Longtan District.

More importantly, Siu's decision made in 1976 is commonly praised today as he foresaw the right model of the park. Siu wanted the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park to be like Silicon Valley which is adjacent to Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley. Thinking differently from Chiang Ching-kuo, Siu saw the potential advantages and tremendous resources the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park could benefit from the National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University. Therefore, Siu determined to manage to build the park in Hsinchu, where both universities are located at.

Today, Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park is commonly considered as the Silicon Valley of the Orient and the high-tech industry stands as the biggest contributor to Taiwan's economy.

Higher education in Taiwan

In 1961, Shu Shien-Siu founded the Department of Mathematics at National Tsing Hua University, one of the most prestigious universities in Taiwan. A year later in 1962, Siu founded the Summer Mathematics Conference, the first-ever mathematical conference in the history of Taiwan.[73]

When Siu became the president of National Tsing Hua University in 1970, there were only 3 academic departments and no college on campus and the university only held a population of over 660 people including faculty members. In order to expand the size of the university and contribute to the growth of Taiwan, Siu organized to establish the college of engineering that consists of five departments and expanded the Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Science by transforming it into the college of nuclear science which consists of two departments and one institute. From 1971 to 1973, Siu managed to employ a total of 165 professors with doctoral degrees. Also, during his presidency, Siu carried out the 15-year strategic plan for the university and placed heavy emphasis on the construction of buildings on campus such as the Department of Chemistry, the auditorium, the gymnasium and dormitories for students and housing buildings for academic staff as Siu sought to increase the bond between the academic staff and the students.[73][74][75]

By the time he left National Tsing Hua University in 1975, the university had a total of nine departments, three colleges, and 13 institutes with a student population of over 2200(including graduate students) and academic staff population of over 160. In 1975, after Siu's five years of presidency, National Tsing Hua University placed first in all three fields of Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry in Taiwan.[75]

As Siu was deeply influenced by the Yongjia School of Thought when he grew up in Wenzhou, during his presidential career at the university, Siu placed heavy emphasis on the idea of practicality instead of the traditional Chinese belief of the importance of theory, and also made it clear that as students, the interaction with the society will always be more important than that within the campus. One of the most influential quotes of Siu is "What we need the most are the practitioners, who directly involve, but not the theorists" (我们最需要的是实行家,直接的参与,而非理论家). That main idea held by Siu to build the university in its early stage of development is almost identical as one of the central philosophies of Yongjia School of Thought, the cultural gene of the city of Wenzhou. Such a unique form of philosophy of Siu would later be proven to have a tremendous impact on the school and Taiwan's history as today, National Tsing Hua University is known for its emphasis on practicality in Taiwan.[73][74][75]

"City of chess"

In 1995, Wenzhou was given the title of "City of Chess" by China Qiyuan, the official agency responsible for all board games and card games in mainland China.[76][77][78] In 2020, Wenzhou celebrated its 25th anniversary of being the "City of Chess" in China. President of FIDE Arkady Dvorkovich sent a congratulatory letter to Wenzhou remarking that "Wenzhou has given births to many genius chess players, Ye Rongguang, Zhu Chen, Ding Liren, congratulate the 25th anniversary of Wenzhou being titled the "City of Chess" in China (温州出了很多天才型的棋手,叶荣光、诸宸、丁立人,祝贺温州被授予中国的国际象棋之城25周年).[77]

Zhu Chen

Wenzhounese chess practitioner and grandmaster Zhu Chen is the first and currently, the only, chess player in the history of the world to win all youth, junior, and adult world championships. In August 1988, Zhu placed first and won the World Girls Under 12 Championship in Romania. In September 1994, Zhu placed first and won the World Girls Junior Chess Championship in Matinhos, Brazil. In November 1996, Zhu placed first and won the World Girls Junior Chess Championship in Medellin, Colombia. In December 2001, Zhu placed first and won the World Women's Individual Championship in Moscow, Russia.[79]

In March 2002, during the FIDE Grand Prix in Dubai, Zhu defeated Ruslan Ponomariov, the World Chess Champion from 2002 to 2004, and knocked him out of the tournament, making her the first and only female world champion and athlete to defeat a male world champion in any competitive sport in the history of the world.[80]

Zhu is the current treasurer of FIDE Management Board and FIDE Council as well as Vice President of FIDE Zonal Council.[81][82]

Culture and demographics


Main article: Wenzhounese

Wenzhou natives speak a language of Wu Chinese, the language family shared by Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou and Shanghai; called Wenzhounese, also known as Oujiang (瓯江话; 甌江話; Ōujiānghuà) or Dong'ou (东瓯; 東甌). Geographic isolation and the immigration of Southern Min speakers from nearby Fujian have caused Wenzhounese to evolve into a very phonologically divergent hybrid difficult for outsiders to understand. As a result, even the adjacent Taizhou Wu variety has little mutual intelligibility with Wenzhounese. Conversely Wenzhouness itself has spread to the Chinese immigrant communities in the Flushing and Brooklyn Chinatowns of New York City.

The esoteric Wenzhounese language is reputed to have been used during the Second Sino-Japanese War during wartime communication and in the Sino-Vietnamese War for programming military ciphers (code).[83][84] Due to its unique grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, the language is basically impossible for any non-local to understand.

There is a common "fearing" rhymed saying in China that reflects the extreme comprehension difficulty of Wenzhounese: "Fear not the Heavens, fear not the Earth, but fear the Wenzhou person speaking Wenzhounese." (天不怕,地不怕,就怕温州人说温州话)


The Heavenly Kings Hall at Jiangxin Temple.
Temple of Bao Gong in Ouhai District.
Guanji temple (left) and Huang ancestral shrine (right) in Lucheng District.

Most of the Wenzhou people practice Chinese folk religion as people in the rest of China, while a part of the population is non-religious. In addition, Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity also have a presence in the city.

Prior to 1949 there were 2,000 registered places of worship and 4,500 priests, pastors and monks in the city. But, the state officially designated Wenzhou as an experimental site for an "atheistic zone" (无宗教区) in 1958 and during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), religious buildings were either closed or converted for other uses.[85] Religion revived quickly since the 1980s, and today there are more registered places of worship than before.[86] Specifically, as of 2015 the city has 8,569 registered folk religious temples and 3,961 registered places of worship of the five institutional religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism).[87] The city was the forefront in the registration and management of folk religious temples which was started in January 2015 and later extended to all Zhejiang.[87]

"China's Jerusalem"

The city has been for centuries a hub of Christian missionary activity; prior to 1949 it was home to 115,000 Christians, more than one-tenth of the total Christians in China at that time.[86] Today it remains an important center of Christianity in China. In 2006, it was reported that between 15 and 20% of the city's population was Christian.[88] In 2012, according to official data the city's Christians were at least one million (about 11% of the 2010 population).[89] Because of its large concentration of Christians, the city has been dubbed the "Jerusalem of the East" or "China's Jerusalem" in some media reports.[85]

In recent years, the prominence of Wenzhou's Christian community has made it the target of some controversial government action. In 2014 CNN reported that local Communist Party authorities had demolished scores of churches and forcibly removed more than 300 church crosses.[90] More recent reports have updated the numbers to over 200 churches destroyed and 2,000 crosses removed.[91] The Chinese government denies that the demolition of churches constitutes persecution of Christians, pointing instead to violations of land-use regulations as the reason for its actions. However, independent human rights groups and news agencies have met this denial with skepticism.[92] The New York Times, for example, reported that internal government documents the newspaper had obtained revealed that these demolitions represented part of a deliberate strategy to reduce the public profile of Christianity in the region. Specifically, the Times cites a nine-page statement of provincial policy, singling-out the Christian community as targets for the regulation of "excessive religious sites" and "overly popular" religious activities. "The priority," the document states, "is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways," as well as to, "Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings."[93] The provincial policy has met with some resistance. A Christian pastor who protested the removal of the crosses and the beating of 50 Christians was also jailed in 2015.[94]


A Qing dynasty scroll painting depicting the ranges of Yandang Mountains.

An essay written by Zhu Ziqing on the beauty of Meiyu Pond (梅雨潭) and waterfall in the Middle Yandang Mountains in Xianyan Subdistrict, Ouhai District, Wenzhou after his visits to the area in 1923 is among the sixty potential reading selections test takers may be asked to read for the Putonghua Proficiency Test.[95][96][97]

With a history of over 120 million years, Yandang Mountains or Yandangshan Mountains, literally the wild goose pond mountain(s) is known for its natural environment, arising from its many vertical rock faces and pinnacles, mountain slopes with forests and bamboo groves, streams, waterfalls and caves.[citation needed]

Nanxi River located in Yongjia County, Nanxi River was famous for its 36 bends and 72 beaches. The main scenic spots of the Nanxi River area include the Furong Triangle Rock, the Waterfall of Tengxi Pool, the Twelve Peaks, the Taogong Cave, the Warehouse Under The Cliff, the Furong Ancient Hamlet and the Lion Rock.[98] It was named as one of the National Tourist Scenic Spots by the State Council and has been listed in Tentative Lists of UNESCO World Heritage.[99]

A covered bridge.

Covered bridges, Taishun County has more than 900 covered bridges, Wuyanling National Nature Reserve in the west of the county represents significant natural values as well as being a touristic attraction.

Due to the variety and diverseness of local tourism attractions, Wenzhou was voted as the venue for the 2016 Annual Convention of Society for American Travel Writers (SATW) in October 2016, after beating contenders including Israel, the State of Texas, and Royal Caribbean International, the world leading cruise operator.

Art and literature

Wenzhou is 1682 years old with a profound and brilliant cultural background. It has given birth to many outstanding people and great scholars. Among them were Wang Shipeng, Chen Fuliang, Ye Shi, Huang Gongwang and Liu Ji during the South Song Dynasty, as well as Sun Yirang, Xia Nai, Xia Chengtao and Su Buqing and others of the modern era. All of them have exerted significant influence in the history of Chinese philosophy, literature and science. Wenzhou is also the origin of China's landscape poetry, the founder of which, Xie Lingyun, was the chief of Wenzhou's Yongjia Prefecture in the Nan Dynasty. In Song Dynasty, there were 4 distinguished poets from Yongjia representing the River and Lake Poetry. Moreover, Wenzhou is the birthplace of Nan Drama of China, which is the origin of Chinese traditional drama of which includes drama forms such as Peking Opera and Yue Opera.[100] "The Romance of a Hairpin", a tale about Wang Shipeng and Qian Yulian, is well known among locals and serves an inspiration for many who have endured life pains but still have faith in love. For instance, "Tale of Lute", a play by Gao Zecheng of Ming Dynasty, is renowned abroad as one of the most outstanding works of Chinese drama along with Kun Opera of Yongjia which is recognized as the verbal and non-material human heritage. Dancing in public is also part of the Wenzhou culture. Wenzhou, the birthplace of China's private economy, likewise is the birthplace of China's export-oriented industrialization. From the Southern Song Dynasty, in contrasted to the Confucianism represented by Zhu Xi and Lu Jiuyuan in China urging people to study to be officials in the future, the theory of Wenzhou's Yongjia School represented by Ye Shi, emphasized the importance of business. The theory has an enduring impact on the mindset of Wenzhou natives and has become the "cultural gene" in the economic development of Wenzhou ever since.

Business culture

Due to both Wenzhou's cultural and geographical remoteness and its lack of natural resources (land, minerals, etc.), the Chinese central government has left the people of Wenzhou relatively autonomous. Away from the center of the political and economic stage, its people are more independent, self-reliant, and generally more business and family oriented. Numerous books have been published about the business sense of people from Wenzhou. Hence, when China switched from its planned economy to its so-called capitalist economy with Chinese (socialist) characteristics in the late 1980s, its people adjusted well to the new system and took advantage of it. A popular common saying calls Wenzhounese the "Jews of the Orient" (东方的犹太人).[citation needed] Wenzhounese have been stereotyped by other Chinese[which?] as real estate speculators. China Daily notes that investments from Wenzhounese buyers play a disproportionately large role in the increased property prices all over China.[101]

The people of Wenzhou are thought to be equipped with business sense and a commercial culture more dominant than anywhere else in China. Wenzhou has two economic characteristics: it was the first to launch a market economy, and it continues to have an active and developed private economy.[102]


Wenzhou has one of the largest education sector, constituting 1/6 of the total in Zhejiang Province. As of the end of 2016, Wenzhou has 2368 schools of various kinds (from pre-school to higher education), with number of students stands at 1.4814 million and faculty number of 127,200.

Higher education

With most of its universities and colleges established after 1949, before 1949, there was not one single university or college in Wenzhou. The highest educational institution in Wenzhou at the time was senior high school.[103][104][105][106]

There are three major universities in Wenzhou: Wenzhou University, Wenzhou Medical University and Wenzhou-Kean University. Wenzhou University resulted from the merger of the former University of Wenzhou, Wenzhou Normal College and other various normal colleges in the rural towns of Wenzhou. Its main campus is situated in the University Town, Cha Shan (茶山). The former campus of Wenzhou Normal College on Xueyuan Road (学院路) is still in use, while the former main campus of the University of Wenzhou now serves as the campus of the Wenzhou Foreign Language School and the Second Experimental Middle School of Wenzhou (No.13 Middle School).[citation needed]

Wenzhou Medical University is well-known globally in specializing in ophthalmology (national level key discipline), as well as provision of other medical courses. Several of Wenzhou's major hospitals are affiliated to this university, with Wenzhou No.1 Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University being the largest in floor space in Asia. The combined population of medical service covered by all the affiliated hospitals of Wenzhou Medical University is said to be over 20 million.[citation needed]

The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China approved the establishment of Wenzhou-Kean University on 16 November 2011. It is one of the first two Chinese-American cooperatively run universities with legal person status, the other one being NYU Shanghai inaugurated on 15 October 2012.[citation needed]

Official websites of universities and colleges in Wenzhou

Notable people


Go and chess players

University presidents






See also


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