China’s Fangchenggang: natural beauty and port economy

Honors of the city:

Home of egrets in China (中国白鹭之乡)
A well-known city for having longevity clusters in China (中国长寿之乡)
A famous city with natural oxygen (中国氧都)

Located on the Gulf of Tonkin coast, Fangchenggang city(防城港市) of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is the only city of China that bordering with an ASEAN member country, Vietnam, by sea and land. The last part of its name "gang" means port, which implies it an important port for Guangxi.

With a total land area of 6,222 square kilometers, the city has a population of 915,600, according to the 2012 census. 21 ethnic groups including Han(汉族), Zhuang(壮族), Yao (瑶族), Jing (京族) etc in the coastal city. Mandarin Chinese is in common use in Fangchenggang. Other popular spoken languages are Cantonese, as the area originally belonged to Guangdong province, and those of Zhuang, Yao and Jing.

There is a folk song in Dongxing(东兴), a county level city under the administration of Fangchenggang, with the lyrics going like this:

“People in their 80s are not old, people in their 90s can be found everywhere and people in their 100s are still in good health.”

According to the local officials, many people choose to move to Dongxing after retirement for the beautiful countryside and the clean air rich in “negative oxygen ions” which is beneficial for the human body.

With over half of the land area covered by forest, there are 2182.4 hectares of mangrove forest on the coastline of Fangchenggang city, as large as over 4,000 American football fields, which is the largest distribution in China. Local people call it Hongshulin(红树林), or red woods, because according to the local officials the trunk is red if you peel the tree.

Living in tidal areas and producing offspring by vivipary - seeds drop into the water and survive to root after they grow mature on the parent tree - mangrove forest is a detector of the environment, because they will not grow in polluted environment.

Apart from their role in protecting the beach and purifying the air, the mangrove forest offer home for tens of thousands migrating birds. And among the birds, the egrets, that used to migrate to the south during the late summer and early autumn, choose to stay.

Photo of egret taken by Huang Songhe(黄嵩和). Huang born in Sichuan in 1974, deputy curator of Fangchenggang Museum, had been photographing the egret for years and won the prize of "National Geographic" Photo Contest (China region) in 2006 with his egret- themed photos taken in Hongshacun Village(红沙村), Fangchenggang. He held his ecological photo exhibition “The Egret and the Mangrove Forest” in the local museum in June, 2013.

The three islands of Wanwei(万尾), Wutou(巫头) and Shanxin(山心) of the Jing people in Dongxing are the only habitat of the Jing ethnic group in China. The Jing also called the Kinh nationality in Vietnam is the country’s the largest ethnic group. The Ha Festival(哈节), a commemorating the god of the sea, is their most important festival for the Jing people who live on marine fishing for generations and climax with singing all through the night. And “Ha” means singing in the Jing language.

Jing girls play the monochord, a musical instrument of the Jing people which is a unique tradition of art and also a national intangible culture heritage of China.

Fangchenggang has plenty of special products in which the “five reds and five goldens”(五红五金) are most well-known. The “five reds” are red sweet potatoes(红薯), red peanuts(红衣花生), red wax apples(红莲雾), red pitayas (红龙果) and red star anises(红八角). The “five goldens” refer to golden camellias(金花茶), golden tangerines(金蜜橘), golden sticky rice(金香糯), golden cinnamons(金肉桂) and golden pineapple(金菠萝).

Port related industries

Two boys in Fangchenggang look at the the city's layout on June 1, 2013. Photo: Carol WU/

As one of the twelve major hub ports of China, Fanchenggang has a coastline of 584 kilometers and currently 115 berths. In the year 2012, its cargo handling capacity reached 100 million tons, accounting for almost 60% of the total of Guangxi coastal ports.

The construction of a nuclear power station with a total investment of 25.6 billion yuan ($4.17 billion) has started on July 30, 2010. It is the first nuclear power station in western China and is expected to put into operation in 2015. Besides, the construction of an iron and steel base with a total investment of 63.99 billion yuan ($10.4 billion) and a nonferrous metal processing project with a total investment of over 30 billion yuan ($4.89 billion) is in progress, according to the local officials. The grain and cooking oil processing base of the city with an annual productive value of 30 billion yuan is the largest in China.

Streetscape of Fangchenggang city. Photo: Baidu Baike

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