Zhejiang Province, 470km (294 miles) S of Hangzhou, 436km (272 miles) N of Fuzhou
Hemmed in by mountains and looking to the sea, Wenzhou, with its own peculiar local dialect, is a modern trading hub based on an early treaty port. It sits on a small seaside plain laced with canals, but it is no Hangzhou. Opened by an Anglo-Chinese convention of 1876, it never amounted to much.
Apart from being a useful starting point to visit Yandangshan , Wenzhou is also a fascinating place to see what deplorable damage the modern economy can do to an ancient agrarian culture. From the designer boutiques and European car dealers downtown, through the poverty of the surrounding shanty towns to the utter hopelessness of those left behind in the surrounding villages, visitors can see very clearly how dual economies are tearing the nation apart. Nowhere else is the wealth gap more pronounced than here, in a city that the propagandists have made famous for its concentration of millionaires. The official media constantly lauds "the Wenzhou model," which, like "socialism with Chinese characteristics," is a way of talking about raw capitalism without having to admit to the Communist Party's U-turn. In reality, the city is simply home to innumerable sweatshops which churn out cheap plastic goods ranging from disposable lighters to adult novelties. Visitors to Wenzhou may be alarmed by the high concentration of beggars, or the frequency with which local men tend to urinate in public.
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