Yiwu (simplified Chinese: 义乌; traditional Chinese: 義烏; pinyin: Yìwū) is a city of about 1.2 million people in central Zhejiang Province near the central eastern coast of the People’s Republic of China. The city is famous for its small commodity trade and vibrant free markets and is a regional tourist destination. Although administratively Yiwu is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Jinhua, it is more well-known than Jinhua nationally and internationally.
Yiwu was founded in the Qin dynasty, at or about 222 BC. Yiwu’s long history flourished as early as the Neolithic Age. Yiwu first became a county in 222BC and was renamed Yiwu County in the year 624 AD. In May 1988, the former Yiwu County was upgraded to a county-level city. In 1995, Yiwu ranked the 47th among China’s 100 most powerful counties/cities regarding comprehensive economic strength and in the same year listed as Zhejiang’s sole city among the nation’s experimental counties/cities of comprehensive reform. In 2001, the Yiwu overall economy ranked 19th of all counties (cities) of China.
Yiwu’s early culture has given birth to many great figures in the fields of literature, art, military, education, and engineering. Among these were Chen Wangdao, China’s first translator of the Communist Manifesto; Wu Han, historian and former deputy mayor of Beijing; Zhu Zhixi, the meritorious engineer in harnessing theYellow River, Zhu Danxi, one of the four distinguished doctors of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties ,and Zongze, a well-known general from the Song Dynasty who resisted aggression by the State of Jin, and as well as Wang Lee Hom, a very famous singer.
Yiwu is located 100 km south of the city of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province. The nearest city to Yiwu is Dongyang. The area, as in most of the Province of Zhejiang, is in a mountainous region.
Yiwu is technically part of the greater Municipal region of Jinhua, although it has a distinct urban core. On China’s administrative strata it is a sub-prefecture level city. It has under its jurisdiction 15 towns and 8 villages, which covers 1102.8 square kilometers, 15 square kilometers of which are urban area of 650,000 people (2005 estimate). There has been talk of merging the Yiwu and Jinhua areas into a single municipal zone or economic entity, but this plan has yet to make its way into any formal discussion.
Yiwu is famous in China as a commodities center. The Yiwu market developed and managed by Zhejiang China Commodities City Group Co., Ltd. (Public, SHA:600415). Yiwu’s China Small-Commodity Market has for 6 consecutive years topped China’s 100 top open markets and was for successive years listed as “China’s civilized open market”. It has been named as the banner of China’s market economy and with a large variety of quality but cheaper commodities, the market has become a shopping paradise for tourists. It especially witnessed a rise in Arab traders who have been visiting the city since 9/11. Apparently, since many entrepreneurs from the Middle East found it more difficult to travel to America due to visa restrictions, they turned their attention to China. The Arab presence has fostered the rise mosques and Middle Eastern restaurants.
The GDP reached 52 billion yuan in 2009, an increase of 9% from 2008, and the per capita GDP reached 71,457 yuan (US$10,461). The per capita urban disposable income reached 30,841 yuan and rural pure income 12,899 yuan, increasing 7.4% and 8.5% respectively.
Its 4C-grade airport has opened over a dozen of air routes to such cities as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shantou, Weifang and Shenzhen. The Zhejiang–Jiangxi Railway and Hangzhou–Jinhua Expressway pass through the city, making Yiwu an important local transportation hub. Express trains from Shanghai South Railway Station take less than three hours.
“Yiwu, 300 kilometers away from Shanghai, is the largest market of petty commodity wholesales in the world where various foreign buyers go to place orders.” Such a depiction comes from Chinese Figures Astonishing the World, a special report co-delivered by the United Nations,the World Bank and Morgan Stanley. In that special report, Yiwu is the only enlisted county economy. And in the choice of “the 2004 Most Favorite Chinese Cities of Domestic and Foreign Public in 2004”, Yiwu ranked the first among all county-level cities.
|“||As documented by the author Tim Phillips[disambiguation needed ] … [t]he city of Yiwu … functions as a sort of ‘Wall Street’ for the counterfeiting industry, providing a vast marketplace where, Phillips states, 100,000 counterfeit products are openly traded and 2,000 metric tons of fakes change hands daily.||”|
|—Eamonn Fingleton, 2008|
Cultural and social
Yiwu contains an Olympic quality stadium. Many events associated with trade take place in Yiwu City. Yiwu also has a sizable Chinese Muslim and Korean population, mostly working in the import and export businesses, as well as a very small Jewish population also in those businesses. It also has a large Christian Church. Yiwu is also known as the “sock town” as it produces over three billion pairs of socks for Wal-Mart, Pringles and Disney annually. Yiwu is also known as China’s number one producer of fashion jewelry.
The Guyue Bridge, a stone arch bridge built in 1213, is one the few existing bridges of that era.