The history of the City of Lanzhou spans more than 2200 years.  The first people to cross the river at this convenient spot arrived much earlier, but the earliest mention of the city can be found as preserved records that show a City on this location already existed during the Reign of the Ch'In (Qin)  Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC). At the time the city was part of the territory of Longxi from which it was administered.
Not much later however, Emperor Wu Di of Han sent out his diplomat Zhang Qian's on his travels (139 BC –125 BC) making him likely the first famous historic person to pass through Lanzhou. It was essentially Zhang Qian and several Han Armies who opened the initial trading road to the West that would later become the 'Silk Road'.
During the subsequent years of Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD) and the first drive for consolidations of the Western Regions, Lanzhou became an important military strongpoint and thus it was promoted first to county level seat in the year 81 BC and then to the Level of Prefecture City. Henceforth it would be known as Jincheng, or Gold(en) City. Presumably the name refers to the key function of the City in the consolidation of the western regions through military campaigns in the Hexi Corridor and beyond. History however would prove the city would become a golden one in several ways.
History of Lanzhou (兰州)
This page was last updated on: July 24, 2017
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Just before the Rise of The Mongol Empire and the conquests of Genghis Khan the city of Lanzhou fell out of central control during the strife between the 'Northern Jin' and 'Southern Song' Dynasty. While both dogs were fighting for the large bone of China, the central-western regions and Lanzhou became part of the Western Xia Kingdom (XiXia or Tangut Empire)(1038 AD - 1227 AD).
The strategic City was subsequently recovered by the Song Dynasty (960 AD – 1126 AD) in 1041 AD after the Mongols had launched several military campaigns against the Xixia, who had their hands full. The name Lanzhou was reestablished, and the county was renamed Lanzhuan.
Not even a century later, in 1127 AD the city was captured by the encroaching Jin Dynasty of the North.
The Xixia Empire was the first to succumb to the combined military might of the various Mongol Hordes under leadership of Genghis Khan, eliminating it as an independent power in 1226 AD with the capture of Khara-Koto, a battle in which Genghis was mortally wounded. The Mongols were then free to press on for the largest prize, Central China, taking the city of Lanzhuan (todays's Lanzhou) for the Mongol Empire in 1235 AD.

Behind the scenes the Mongols played all parties brilliantly. While bleeding his three opponents and focussing on the conquest of Xixia first, the Mongol Khan had already established connections with a 4th party, the Tibetans. Genghis Khan had hoped to unify the Tibetans under a flag of Buddhism-Lamaism which was popular among Mongol Tribes as well, thus mobilizing the ruling Yellow Hat sect of Tibet against the Han Chinese.  The Rulers of Tibet were inclined to respond positively however their emmissary, an important 'Lama', fell ill during the long and difficult journey, passing away at Lanzhou in 1228 AD.
Not long after their Victory over the City of Lanzhou the Mongol Rulers honored the dead Lama by erecting a Dagoba on the highest hill-top overlooking the City of Lanzhou and named it the White Dagoba Temple. Although the original Temple on the Hill, was destroyed in history, it was rebuilt between 1450 and 1456 AD during the Ming Dynasty, was expanded several times since and still stands today.
During the Sui Dynasty Era (581 AD - 618 AD) the name of the City was changed and it became known as Lanzhou for the first time. The city was the largest administrative center of the region at the time.

During the early years of the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907 AD) the name of the city was reversed back to Jincheng, Golden City.  It was during this time that another famous silk road traveler, the Buddhist Monk Xuanzang,  passed through Lanzhou on his way out of the Chinese Empire. Although this was expressely forbidden by Imperial Decree, his goal was to travel to India and search for bigger and better knowledge of the Buddhist Religion. On his way from the Court and Capital at Chang'An to the Jade Gate (Yumen) outside of Dunhuang -the border of China- Xuanzang first had to cross the tumultuous river on an inflated sheep skin before continuing his journey to the edge of the Empire. Much later, after lenghty travels and a heroes return he would go on to become the arch-father of Tang Dynasty Era Buddhism and head priest of the Da Cien Si - Great Goose Pagoda of the Capital Chang'An (Xi'An), a virtual buddhist University for the entire nation.
Overview Map of the travels of Xuanzang (629 AD - 645 AD) leading through the silk road to Samarkand and through current day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
After the Tribute Missions were over China somewhat mysteriously turned inward. Later Emperors banned sea-going trade and further maritime activities returning some of the importance of the land trading routes. In addition, Zhu Di had iniated a giant reconstruction effort on the Great Wall of China, which at the time reached as far West as Jiayuguan in West Gansu Province. As a pivotal point in the defenses, and 'cork' at the end of the Hexi Corridor Lanzhou became the largest garrison city in the region which was protected by several layers of the Great Wall of China. Some ruined remains of these can still be found in the wider vicinity of the City, especially along the Yellow River gorges near the Gansu- Ningxia Border.
Even during the Ming Dynasty Era the Great Wall of China saw several large scale campaigns against its defenses, specifically in the West.

The City lost its importance during the ongoing years much due to the improved international transport by sea to Asia, the middle east and Europe.

In the Ching Dynasty Era inner-mongolia was controlled by the court powers in Beijing, thus ending many of the functions of the Great Wall of China. Lanzhou however remained the most important regional logistical center and so remained crucial as a part of the later arisen 'Tea Road' from China into Central Asia, the Russian Empire and beyond.
The city re-acquired its current name as Lanzhou in 1656 AD, during the first reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) under the Kangxi Emperor. Ten years later, in 1666 AD, when Gansu was established as a separate province, Lanzhou became its capital.

Near the end of the Qing Dynasty Era (1644 AD - 1911 AD) the government was no longer able to look after many of the needs in the nation. Foreign indemnities and corruption had bankrupted the nation, plagues and natural disasters, especially large flooding's of the Yellow River only added to the misery.  As a result various revolts ravaged the nation.  During the 19th Century no less than five wars and campaigns were waged against the Muslim Minorities in the West.
A first uprising in and around Lanzhou in current day Gansu Province and in the Tarim River Basin  lasted no less than 8 years before it was quelled (1820 AD-1828 AD). Later there were multiple Muslim rebellions between 1855 AD and 1873 AD in Yunnan, Gansu and Shaanxi Province.
One of these revolts was a rising of the Islamic Hui in Gansu Province and neighboring Ningxia Region known as the Dungang Revolt (1864 AD – 1875 AD). Due to the fact that the rebels took Lanzhou the City as their main stronghold, the City was badly damaged in the uprising when Qing Armies descended on City and regions for what can today best be described as a campaign of Ethnic Clensing.  The Rebel armies were decimated and those that didn't die scrambled out of the city heading West with Manchu Armies in pursuit.
The 'consolidations' of the Time were owed as much to the Invention of the Waterwheel as to Military conquest. The ' waterwheel' which was used on a massive scale for irrigation and water-management purposes during the Han Dynasty allowed for the first time the successful settlement of the fertile Yellow River Plain of Ningxia to the North- west and was and is- still used widely throughout the regions. Hence the pride of the inhabitants of the City at their 'Waterwheel Park' on the South Yellow River Banks.

After the fall of the Han Dynasty in 221 AD, the central western regions of which Lanzhou is the center once more fell out of Han Chinese Control. As the most important crossroads city City then served as the capital for a succession of tribal states. Its population mixed with different cultural heritages; Tibetan, Mongolian, Han and others, the area of present-
View of Lanzhou's Water-wheel Park in the City Center along the Yellow River. For around 2 millenia this primitive 'pumping' device helped conquer arid lands for irrigation and helped tame some of the Yellow Rivers notorious temper. The new technology layed the foundation for consolidation of the West and 'founded' the City of Lanzhou. (Photo: November 2007.)
day Gansu Province, became a center for Buddhist study and Worship, its Temples giving rise to the first forms of Chinese Buddhist Art.

In the 4th century Lanzhou was briefly the capital of the independent state of Earlier Liang. Not much later the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 AD – 534 AD) arose. The mixed Ethnic Dynasty (Tuoba) which held Capital in Datong in North Shanxi Province (and later at Luoyang in Henan Province) adopted Buddhism as its state religion deeply influencing the culture of the Northern Regions. The Wei also controlled Lanzhou and recognizing its strategic position controlling access to far and wide regions, the Court re-established Jincheng as a Military commandery, renaming the county of which Lanzhou (Jincheng) was the administrative Capital Zicheng.
This strong interest in Buddhism in western and Northern China lasted roughly from the 5th to the 11th century (with interruptions) leaving a large variety of historical wonders, Buddhist caves, art and
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A miniature Waterwheel in use for the control of flow in irrigation canals at South Lake, near Sun Gate Pass (Yang Guan), south-west of Dunhuang in far West Gansu. (Photo: November 2007.)
Lanzhou's Yuan Dynasty Era founded White Dagoba atop Baita Shan, on the North Bank of the River. The dagoba honors the death of an important Tibetan emissary. (Photo: November 2007.)
In the end all three, the Xixia (Tangut), the Jin and finally the Song were overrun by the ruthless war machine of the Mongolians seeing Lanzhou absorbed into a continent wide Empire. Not before the death of Genghis Khan however, who is supposed to have succumbed not very far from Lanzhou in south Ningxia near Liupan Shan (six Bends Mountain). Its just one of the 'legends' of course. Another legend has it that Genghis died at Xinglong Mountain,  which is only around 60 kilometers from Lanzhou's City Center. As with the Liupan Shan story,  it is said that after Genghis succumbed from his war-wounds acquired at the Battle of Khara-Koto (Heicheng), in this case at the 2400 meter high Xinglong Holy Mountain, his coffin was not returned to Mongolia but hidden for safe-keeping inside the Grand Buddha Hall of one of The Temples on the Mountain. According to this version of the legend, The Great Khan then lay there fairly undisturbed for centuries. The situation supposedly remained unchanged and 'secret' until (the middle of) 1949 AD when his remains were removed and taken to Ta'Er Monastery (Kumbum Monastery) near Xining (Silung) in eastern Tibet (now Qinghai Province) for safe-keeping from the advancing and godless Chinese Communist Armies.
Regardless of later Chinese propaganda claims there had never been true trust and peace between the Tibetans and the Communists. During the Long March the Tibetan populace had fought the communist armies tooth and nail during their trek through Sichuan Province and across the eastern end of the Tibetan Plateaux. Hence this move.
In an even more interesting episode, only five years later when the Tibet was absorbed by The Peoples Republic of China in a short war, one of the first actions of the Chinese Forces was to reclaim the supposed body of Genghis Khan. According to the Chinese Government, the Coffin and Bier were then claimed by the Inner-Mongolian Authorities and taken to Ejin Horo Qi (Dongsheng), where they now rest inside what is known as 'The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan'.
Although the Xinglong Mountain story is fascinating, today even Chinese Historians agree that the corps at Ejin Horo Qi is likely not Genghis Khan. The question remains open where he died and where he found his final resting place. Other legends claim that the Great Khan had a lavish tomb built, to be among the greatest archeological treasures still to be found. The search is still on.

During the 13Th Century and the Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD - 1368 AD) nearly all of the Eurasian continent fell under control of the Mongol Court of the Great Khan operating out of Khanbalik (Beijing). For the first time the Silk Road and continent could be 'freely' traveled from West to East and vice-versa. Many did so, among which the now famous Marco Polo.  Others were Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan travel, and two Europeans, one named William of Rubruck (+/- 1220 - +/- 1293 AD), the other John (or Giovanni) Pian De Carpine (+/- 1180 AD - August 1, 1252 AD). None of these travelers reached Lanzhou however.
Marco Polo only traveled through  the river-crossing point at Lanzhou during his first travels when accompanying his father and brothers. On his second journey Marco Polo took a more northern route which led from Jiuquan in the Hexi Corridor through Inner-Mongolia directly to Beijing and the Khan's Court.  They were to be the last days of true importance of the land-bound silk road.
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In 1907 AD the first ever Iron Bridge was built across the Yellow River (Huang He) at Lanzhou.  The original bridge, which was financed by German Banker, still stands today and is known as the Zhongshan No.1 Huanghe Bridge, crossing the River at 'Gold City Gorge' (Jincheng Guan). On the other side lies the Western Pass (西关).
Two years later in 1909 AD Lanzhou University (兰州大学) was founded  in the last death-throws of the Ching Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) during the Reign of China's notorious Last Emperor 'Henry' Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi.  The establishment of the Institute was one of the very few positive achievements under the shortlived Regime.

In the 1920s and 1930s it became a center of Soviet influence in north-
View of the Zhongshan Huanghe Bridge, The Yellow River and Baita Shan - White Dagoba Hill from the South Bank (Photo: November 2007).
western China. At the time friendship point, for one  the Russians had behaved 'better' than the other Imperialist Nations that had invaded the Chinese Nation and had -among things- recently returned indemnity payments,  furthermore the recent Soviet Revolution (1917 AD) in which feudalism had een replaced by a Government representative of farmers and factory workers, received great admiration from Chinese scholars, writers and politicians. While friendship flourished Lanzhou became the end-point of the 3.200 kilometers (2,000 mile) long Chinese-Soviet highway which led soviet Kazakhstan through Xinjiang (New Territories) to the Hexi Corridor and beyond to Lanzhou. The lengthy route was used to deliver  Soviet supplies to Lanzhou, and from there on to the regions around Xi'an. Xi'An itself had been linked to Lanzhou by road in 1935 AD.
Xi'an was still 'free' however it was the target of several Japanese armies attempting to push westward and inland. Inside the City were Communists as well as Nationalist living in uneasy alliance while trying to fend off the invading Japanese. The place was also said to be ridden with spies.
The city of Xi'an never fell, among things due to the continuous guerilla activities of the 'Red Army' that had just arrived in the region. Not many soviet supplies ever made it to these Communist Armies though. The Nationalist and warlord armies kept those for themselves.

The so established Sino-Soviet Highway link remained the primary and only viable traffic route of northwestern China until the completion of the railway from Lanzhou to Urumqi in Xinjiang-Uyghur AR in 1963 AD. After the 1949 'Liberation' the road was repaved by PLA engineering units and only recently the road was turned into a modern highway, the Xinjiang Expressway.

As Lanzhou was the Capital of the region and the Home turf of the so-called 'Ma Clique' of Warlords, Red Armies that entered the Province of Gansu from Sichuan in the South steered well clear of Lanzhou on the final stretches of their Long March to North Shaanxi Province in late 1935 and early 1936 AD. The Red Armies passed through villages and towns to the East, traversing through Hui dominant territory. Only later would part of the Red Army return, battling it out with the Islamic Warlords in the disastrous 'Ningxia Campaign'.

Throughout 1935 AD and 1936 AD Japanese armies were operating in Mongolia, Inner-Mongolia, Shanxi and north Shaanxi Province but their mechanized units had trouble reaching Lanzhou. However, the Japanese air force had less trouble. In an effort at interdiction as well as intend to create terror, the City of Lanzhou was heavily bombed by the Japanese during the war (officially 1937 AD - 1945 AD).

Cambridge Professor Joseph Needham passed through Lanzhou in 1943 AD on his way westward to the Budhist caves of Mogao (near Dunhuang).  At the Time the City and region were still the target of Japanese Air-raids and much of the once glorious old city had been reduced to rubble by repeated bombings.  The bridge was damaged and 'half broken' but the 2 trucks made it across.
Needham's good friend, the New Zealander Rewi Alley travelled along with the trucks of the Needham Mission in the hope of finding a new location for the Indusco sponsored Bailie School of which he was a teacher. The entire expedition stayed over in Lanzhou for a full two weeks, during which Needham could have his tooth fixed and trucks repaired.
The two week stay over turned into an important learning period for Joseph Needham and his writings relate of visits to various places and persons.  There is mention of a German mission library, visits to a hospital, a Bishop named Buddenbrook, a local american consul,  machinery works and a dry battery factory, abundant Russian sigarettes,  a power station and a traditional crossing-the-river by Needham on an inflated sheepskin.
At the end of an exciting period the expedition took to the Sino-Soviet highway and headed West. Many miles further Needham dropped Alley off at Shandan where the refuge and new location for the School was found. Not much later headmaster and journalist George Hogg would take to the road with his 'Children of Huangshi(pu)', traveling on foot from Huixian (Shuangshipu) in south Gansu to Shandan (County of Zhangye Prefecture) and passing through Lanzhou and across the River.
On the return trip the Needham expedition once more passed through Lanzhou only to find the (Zhongshan) Yellow  River bridge downed by Japanese Bombing leading to many more sheep skin crossings until the river froze solid. Since the remaining truck of the expedition could not cross the river Needham eventually returned to Chongqing and his diplomatic post by Air.

Lanzhou became the focus in one of the last battles of the (2nd) Chinese Civil War in the second half of 1949 AD.  At the time the defenses of the City proper was concentrated at the Southern Mountain (南山), now Lanshan Park, which shields the City in the South. Although many armies were facing off in the region in the end control of the city fell to the Communist rather swiftly.
On August 20, 1949, the communist I Corps took Kangle (康乐), threatening Linxia (临夏) in the South. On the same day the communist II Corps and XIX Corps reached the outskirt of Lanzhou from the East. On August 21, 1949, a total of nine regiments from the communist II Corps and XIX Corps attacked the nationalist stronghold at Southern Mountain (南山) outside Lanzhou City proper, but were beaten back with heavy losses after two days of fierce fighting.
The Communist then withdrew to regroup the next day, but then the Nationalist Armies defending the North Bank of the City were withdrawn to defend the City Of Xining (in Qinghai Province) further West.

The rest of the Job was easy. Once the communist armies re-attacked and had succesfully taken the North Bank and the 'West Pass' leading down to the Yellow River, they were free to capture the Zhongshan Bridge and move into the 'Old City' (Chengguan District). The Nationalist Commander and troops on the Southern Mountain were then surrounded, and were left to face their rather miserable fate. Their 'kind' was the arch enemy of the hapless peasant children and orphans that had been recruted to become the soldiers of the Peoples and Workers Army of Mao Zedong. A lot of their young comrades, some 11 thousand,  were left Dead in the Battle.  The Nationalists didn't find much pitty. Mop up operations lasted only one day, after which the City was declared fallen on August 27 of 1949 AD.
One of the highest commanding officers,  Hu Zhongnan responsible for the entire North-West, faced with quite impossible odds,  subsequently chose to defect to the communist side, saving his own skin and even starting a communist career. The West was 'Red' and Mao could prepare to announce the founding of his Peoples' Nation.

Since the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China on October 1st of 1949 AD, the city of Lanzhou has entered an entirely new chapter in its long history. The promise of development lured and the plan for building an Oil Pipeline to connect from the Soviet Union through Lanzhou was even brought up by Stalin in a 1949 AD conversation (December 16, 1949) with Mao Zedong. Not all plans were realized due to the later political tension between the Soviet Union, hinted at already by Mao in that same conversation. Building the West would inevitably mean exposing China (P.R.C.) more to the Soviet Union, which would be a crucial mistake in case the 'friendship' between the two arch dictators and their aspiring nations went sour. Naturally, it did later on. Stalin's death in 1953 AD didn not help a bit in this regard.
To be exact, Mao likely recognized that in 1949 AD, the Soviet Union was a dangerous Militarist Nation, an Imperialist Nation in the recent past ,and with a ruthless Stalin at the helm, looking for expansion. At the Time Stalin was obviously playing for expansion and domination in the West in Europe. There was no reason to think Stalin had different ambitions for the East. Earlier it had become clear that Stalin wished the worldwide Communist movement (KomIntern) to be run from Moscow, making the Soviet Union (Russia) the leading and model Nation of the (socialist) world. If anything, Mao's personal pride and belief in the strength and essence of Chinese Culture could and would not allow for any such thing.

Nevertheless, from an underdeveloped trading town the relatively small city was turned into a major industrial center serving the North-West. In order to achieve this, new railways and roads were built to connect the city to the central population centers of the Nation.  The first such railroad to be built was the Tianshui to Lanzhou railroad, which was opened on August the 23rd of 1952 AD connecting Lanzhou to Baoji and Xi'an, and from there to the national railway network. To give an idea of the importance of this project to the National Leadership, the Railway received an opening plaque inscribed by 'Chairman' Mao himself. It reads; 'Congratulations on the Opening of the Tianshui-Lanzhou railway to traffic. Continue to work hard on the construction for the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Line'. Where the plaque and inscription are located is not known (yet!).
In 1954 AD Tibet was absorbed into the Peoples Republic by forces entering through Lanzhou and East-Tibet no doubt with use of the new railroad connections.

The Baotou-Lanzhou Railway (Baolan) became operational in 1958 AD creating a railway transport line for raw materials mined in Ningxia, mainly Coal, Oil and Ore, to both industrial centers of Lanzhou in Gansu and Baotou in Inner-Mongolia AR. Furthermore, grain, rice and other food stuffs could now be transported directly from the fertile Ningxia Plain of the Yellow River to be traded and distributed through Lanzhou. This brought great economic benifits for Lanzhou as well as for the entire Nation. In fact, the development and succes of this and other railway lines (and possibly the inclusion of Tibet) so inspired Mao Zedong and the Party Leadership that they dared launch the political campaign known today as 'The Great Leap Forward' which started in 1958 AD and lasted well into 1961 AD. Unfortunatly, the idea's that founded this next step of the development of the new Nation were fundamentally flawed, so by 1961 AD crops and production were failing to keep up with the population explosion in the peace time Nation, which was literally left starving. The railroad from the irrigated fields of Ningxia Autonomous Region through Lanzhou to the nation now became a crucial lifeline for the coastal cities. Many millions died in the 'Three Bitter Years' of 1959, 1960 and '61.
Historian Yang Xianhui has published two harrowing accounts from his home province of Gansu. One details how 3000 political prisoners – “Rightists” – starved to death in a labour camp. The other describes the many dying children in Gansu’s orphanages, who were left by farmers that worked themselves to death. (Both books are available in Chinese bookstores).

The final step was the completion of the Lanzhou-Urumqi Railway (Lanxin for short) which was opened in 1963 AD.  This essentially established a first viable mass transport link with the far away regions of Xinjiang. Although the Soviets had helped build the friendship highway to reach there, this was only a a narrow two lane road, essentially unfit to help with any real development. The Xinjiang railroad for the first time truely included Xinjiang into the Peoples Republic, remaining the cheapest transport link available today. Travel times on the railroad were still impossible though.
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The Hongwu reign of the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) saw the construction of a pontoon-type bridge at Lanzhou, the first ever permanent bridge to span the River at this location. The bridge greatly facilitated the transportation of Ming Armies and supplies into the Hexi Corridor, where -on the other end at Jiayuguan- not much after a Garrison Town and later a giant defensive fortress were built. The construction of the bridge only served to advance the importance of the City for the region. It was however only in function during the ice-free months.
After the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) restored order throughout the Empire the Mongols managed to keep a stranglehold on the 'western regions' as they were called, essentially cutting off vital trade from the Empire. As a result the City of Lanzhou lost much of its importance as a trading city, logistical center and cultural crossover point but only gained in Military and strategic importance.

The beforehand prospering Chinese
trading Nation connected through land and sea to 'the world' nations now suddenly found itself cut off from trade and communications, instead being surrounded by hostile countries and clans.  In response third Emperor Zhu Di (Yongle Reign) of Ming sent out a massive fleet, the treasure fleets of admiral Zheng He, in order to make use of the only open road to the world, and re-establish a newly arising China as the center of world Civilization and the recipient of many tributary missions. These trading missions in turn would give further rise to the so-called sea-bound silk road which had been in development since the Roman Empire.
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The Lanzhou-Urumqi railroad helped the economy of Lanzhou a little, however it was of greater strategic importance. In the first place it greatly helped to extend the strength of the Lanzhou Military District (or command) which extends all the way through and across Xinjiang AR and also includes the uninhabited High Himalayan regions of West Tibet and Aksai Chin of Kashmir. The railway was vital for the projection of Military Power to the West and the railway was a great way to transport tanks, cannon and troops. Beyond Lanzhou and Gansu it also helped to solidify the Chinese Positions in Tibet. The Sino-Indian War (Hindi: भारत-चीन युद्ध Bhārat-Chīn Yuddh),  which broke out in 1962 AD over parts of Kashmir had proved such point already.
Earlier of course there had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 AD Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama, Tibets Highest religious leader, portrayed by the Chinese Communists as an immoral Feudal Despot. Since India and China (P.R.C.) had spiraled into a conflict not at all avoided by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1959.  After the United States had declared that the Nationalists holed up in Taiwan would not be allowed to invade the Chinese mainland the communist immediately set to work transporting their heavy artillery from the coast to the Tibetan-Indian Border.
The reason for War was simple: ALL of China had to be re-united under Mao's leadership making him an equal to Ch'In Shi Huangdi, who he had grown to admire. Further, Indian
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Nationalists had enraged Mao by throwing eggs at his portrait, after a petition at the Chinese Embassy in support of the Tibetan cause going along with a mass demonstration had been rudely ignored. Zhou Enlai had warned India that the Chinese people would 'never in a 100 years' forget about that insult. It seems that Mao and his aide Zhou felt strongly that the Indians needed to be taught a lesson for their audacities.
Shrewdly coinciding with the Cuban Missile Crisis that took away Soviet and American focus the Chinese launched simultaneous offensives into Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh on October the 20th 0f 1962.  A month later they declared a cease-fire and partially withdrew from captured territories. The entire war wouldn't have been possible without the Lanzhou-Urumqi (Lanxin) railroad.

The West was developed Militarily but not necessarily industrially, except perhaps for the secret nuclear bases inside the Hexi Corridor (Jiuquan + Lop Nur). Although connected the region still lacked the energy infra-structure to support any large scale Industries.
Therefor, not much later the Yellow River was dammed at several places near Lanzhou giving more control of the rivers seasonal torrents as well as providing electrical energy for the Capital and its ever growing population and industry. Thus Lanzhou, already the largest City in the North-West, grew even larger. Adopting the adage of the time “Pollute now, clean up later” - another not well thought through political slogan ascribed to Mao- , Lanzhou became northwest China’s primary hub for oil refineries and petrochemical plants.

Eventually the earlier foreseen tensions with the Soviet Union which saw several crisis and border-conflicts throughout the 1960's did hamper the further development of the West. Not only had all technical cooperation with the Soviet Union been halted delaying any possibilities, on a larger scale the 'Soviet Situation' played a a part in the Central Governments decision to first focus on Development of the Cities and Coastal Regions.  Furthermore in 1966 AD  Mao Zedong with help of his wife and General Linbiao launched the so-called 'Cultural Revolution' a bid to restore all power to his own person using unusual means. With this Chinese Internal Politics spiralled out of control and morallity hit rock-bottom. Soon the entire Nation was at each others throats paralizing the economy and staving off any chance of development anywhere.  China was turned into a totalitarian communist miltary dictatorship with Mao as the nominal head but with General Lin Biao, named as 'Mao's successor' as the true power behind and underneath the Throne. It was the army that held the Party in power, nothing much more.
Lin Biao, now Marshall, was elimated by Mao Zedong in 1972 AD after he had out-lived his usefulness to the 'Dear leader' and nearly crossed through Mao's plans for renewed ties with the United States (sources say he was brutally murdered on orders of Mao after a meeting, although officially he was killed while fleeing the nation en route to the Soviet Union after a coup attempt. The coup was Mao's not Lin's).
Only the death of Mao in 1976 AD and the elimination of his power-clique (the 'Gang of Four') could turn the tide for a by then bankrupt Nation. The damage was so great that it would take at least 10 years to restore any sense of normality.
Thus, a further economic rise of Lanzhou and for all practicalities all regions further beyond were delayed until well into the 1990's.
There used to be a Statue of Mao Zedong in the Center of Lanzhou. It was erected at some time during the 1950's, however today it is nowhere to be found. It is unknown when the statue was removed and for which reason. Try and use your imagination.

Only after the turn of the Millenium did the central regions and the West come truely into focus on a National Political Level. Among the main events in this respect is the launching of the Development of the West, which was made part of the National Five Year plan in 2005 AD. Eversince that year Lanzhou has started a steady methamorphosis into a modern city of highrises, luxury appartments and even a Rolex Outlet or two. It is however a fairly slow process compared to other parts of China (P.R.C.).

Most recently Lanzhou became part of a 'new silk road' in the shape a the trans-european railroad-expressway. The New Eurasian Land Bridge, also called the Second or New Eurasian Continental Bridge, is the term reserve to describe the branch of the Eurasian Land Bridge that runs through the People's Republic of China exclusively.  Beyond the Peoples Republic the Eurasian Land Bridge is a continuous overland rail link between East Asia and Europe. Chinese media often states that the New Eurasian Land/Continental Bridge extends from Lianyungang (on the Coast of the East China Sea in Jiangsu Province to Rotterdam, among the largest ports in Europe and the World, in The Kingdom of The Netherlands. This is a distance of 11,870 kilometers (7,380 miles).
The exact route used to connect the two cities is not always specified in Chinese media reports, but always includes the City of Lanzhou, the Lanxin Railway to Urumqi in Xinjiang-Uyghur AR and usually refers to the route which passes through Kazakhstan and then into Russia.
Lanzhou - 7Th Military Command
architecture scattered throughout the North and West. Gansu Province is especially rich in Monuments and Temples dating to these times. Among the most famous, first and foremost the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, second the Maji Shan Buddhist Cave Mountain near Tianshui and third the Bingling Si Caves and Rock Statues just south-west of Lanzhou at the Luijiaxia water reservoir of the Yellow River. Bingling Si is one of the major tourist attractions to travel to Lanzhou for.
Beijing - Ming Dynasty Era Capital of China
Hami (Kumul)
This page was last updated on: July 24, 2017
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