- Zhengzhou (Henan)
- Wuhan (Hubei)
- Changsha (Hunan)
- Nanchang (Jiangxi)
- Henan Population: 94 million
- Hubei Population: 57.58 million
- Hunan Population: 65.96 million
- Jiangxi Population: 45 million
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566 Jian she Road, Wuhan
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In ancient times, the central provinces were China’s political, economic and cultural centre for many years. Jinan was the largest city in the southern half of China and the capital city for over twenty kings. Additionally, Henan Province holds the remains of many ancient Chinese cultures dating back to the Neolithic Age.
The region also has a strong presence in the country’s communist history. Hunan is the home of many famous communist leaders including Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Yaobang. Furthermore, The Jinggang Mountains in Jiangxi were the first revolutionary base area set up by Chairman Mao in 1927. The capital city of Nanchang was where the ‘August 1st Uprising’ took place, the day regarded as the founding date of the People’s Liberation Army.
Today the region continues to develop and will seek to build on this through the approval of the Central Plains Economic Zone (CPEZ), approved in early 2013. Centred on Henan province, the CPEZ represents the largest economic zone in the country with an area of 289 000 square kilometres and a population of roughly 179 million.
Traditionally referred to as China’s ‘great granary’, the central China region has long been a leading area for agricultural production – currently contributing to 18 per cent of the nation’s total grain output and 50 per cent of its total wheat output. However, problems faced by the region on the way to modernisation such as reduced farmland, decreases in grain output and environmental degradation, make the region in need of such government attention. Therefore, the planning that has been approved by the State Council offers a coordinated way for the CPEZ to undergo urbanisation, industrialisation and agricultural modernisation without compromising its agricultural development, food security and environment.
Henan is one of the country’s main commercial crop production areas. Major agricultural products include cotton, peanuts, mushrooms, tobacco and fruits. Henan has developed into an important food processing base in China, producing meat, frozen food, instant noodles, biscuits and seasonings etc. Henan’s industry is dominated by heavy industry, which accounted for 67% of the total value-added industrial output in 2013. In the last ten years, the industrial sector has been developing rapidly in Henan with its share in GDP increasing markedly. Major industries of Henan comprise foods, chemical, automobile and parts, machinery production and textiles. Electronics and communication equipment is another area of fast growth.
The province has developed into an important industrial production base. Major industries include metallurgy, automobiles, chemicals and construction materials, foodstuff, machine-building, textiles, electronics and ship-building. Hubei’s abundant supply of hydroelectricity is conducive to heavy industry, which accounted for about 66% of the gross value of industrial output in 2013.
The primary sector still accounted for 12.2% of Hunan’s GDP in 2013. Among the agricultural sector, animal husbandry accounted for 29% of the gross output in 2013. In recent years, Hunan is also developing into a production base of dairy products. Hunan has evolved a complete industrial system, and formed a considerable capacity in the production. A large share of Hunan’s industrial output is related to its rich mineral deposits. For example, smelting and pressing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals accounted for 13.2% of the total industrial sales.
In recent years, Hunan has become a base for relocation of manufacturing industries from such provinces as Guangdong, Zhejiang, Beijing, Fujian and Shanghai etc. In 2013, investment from other provinces grew by 19.8% to RMB126.9 billion.
For the tertiary industry of Hunan, the sector of culture, sports and entertainment appears to be “the pearl on the crown”. Hunan TV is very popular among domestic TV watchers. In 2012, the value-added of cultural and creative industries of Hunan amounted to RMB117.5 billion, accounting for 5.2% of the GDP, up from 2.4% in 2000.
In recent years, Jiangxi has been pushing forward the strategy of industrialization. The proportion of industry in GDP increased to 44.9% in 2013 from 27.7% in 2001. The structure of Jiangxi’s industrial output reflects the rich mineral deposits of the province. In 2013, smelting and pressing of ferrous and non-ferrous metal accounted for 22.4% of the gross industrial output. Jiangxi has benefited greatly from the relocation of military industry from the coastal regions to inland provinces in the 1960s-70s. In 2013, its heavy industry’s output accounted for 68% of the gross industrial output value.
Guantangbao or soup-filled buns have many different variations in different parts of China. The traditional tang bao in Kaifeng, Hunan is a large bun, similar to other baozi, which is bitten open to release the soup filling, which is then drunk with a spoon. However, the traditional form has all but disappeared, with most eateries choosing to serve a Jiangsu-style tangbao where the soup is drunk with a straw.
Re gan mian in English means hot dry noodles and is a traditional dish of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Re gan mian has a history in Chinese food culture for 80 years. It is a typical breakfast food in Wuhan, and is often sold in street carts in residential areas. Breakfasts such as Re gan mian are available from as early as 5am and are served until midnight (breakfast turns into snacks at night) in Wuhan. The noodle is inexpensive thus remaining as a popular breakfast choice in Wuhan.
Mapo dofu or tofu is a popular Chinese dish. It is a combination of tofu set in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, and often cooked with douchi (fermented black beans) and minced meat, usually pork or beef. Variations exist with other ingredients such as water chestnuts, onions, other vegetables, or wood ear mushrooms.