An Excerpt From:
History of Ningbo
by Weisheng Liu
The city of Ningbo on the eastern coast of China has been a leader in and has produced leaders in commerce, entrepreneurship, civil service, and community building for more than a millennium. Still, in the minds of most people outside China, the rival port of Shanghai constantly overshadows Ningbo, which is less than a hundred miles to the south across Hangzhou Bay. Like Shanghai, Ningbo was not receptive to Western trade until it was forced to open its port in 1842. But for more than a thousand years before, Ningbo was arguably the dominant port along the coast of China. The city’s geographical strengths as a port city gave rise to a still-prevalent tradition of entrepreneurship. Merchants flowed from Ningbo to major cities throughout Asia while keeping a legendary loyalty to their home city. Part of the success of the Ningbo merchants comes from their hometown cultural trait of adaptability. Ningbo has undergone many major changes over the centuries, and its businessmen have similarly found ways to keep up with the times. The physical realization of this cultural trait is in the Ningbo guilds and native-place associations that were founded wherever Ningbo merchants went. These guilds and associations began as ways for businessmen to pool their resources and establish standards and rules, but by the late nineteenth century these organizations functioned as de facto governments with monetary regulations, judicial systems, charities, armies, temples, and above all, domination of banks and chambers of commerce.
Copyright®2005, Wildflowers Institute
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