2018 has witnessed China’s 40th year of reform and opening up, allowing for a significant moment to review Wuhan’s great strides and achievements. The exhibition, the “Striking Waves of the Yangtze River,” is on display at the Wuhan 1911 Revolution Museum on Dec. 16. Over 300 pictures and 200 objects are on display, demonstrating the city’s enormous changes and progress in the fields of politics, economics, culture, public affairs and ecological improvement. Let’s see what strides Wuhan has made during the past 40 years.

The past 40 years have witnessed the remarkable growth of Wuhan’s economy. The city’s total output value has jumped from RMB 4 billion in 1978 to RMN1,341 trillion in 2017. It has developed into a modern city with 11 mainstay industries: steel and deep processing, automobiles and parts, petrochemicals, electronic information, equipment manufacturing, energy environmental protection, food and tobacco, biomedicine, textiles, daily light industry and building materials.

The past 40 years have seen major development in Wuhan’s urban transportation system. Formerly, Wuhan citizens used to commute among Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang via the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge and the Jianghan Bridge. However, this traffic patter has been completely upgraded with the construction of 15 tunnels under the Yangtze River and 11 under the Han River. Theses changes have made Sun Yat-sen’s prophecy regarding Wuhan’s development a reality, something that he referred to in the “Constructive Scheme for Our Country” when he said, “there will be more points in Wuhan to build bridges or tunnels in the future.” Much work has also been done to ensure the protection of the environment. Riverside parks festoon the Yangtze and Han rivers. East Lake has become the green heart of Wuhan. Lakeside parks contribute both to the beauty and eco-friendliness of the city.

These 40 years have contributed to Wuhan’s ever-increasing successful modern city. In the past five years, Wuhan has undertaken 80 national-level reform pilot projects. It was recently directed by the State Council to lead the development of cities in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Wuhan is making every effort to make itself China’s fifth major city. According to the 2018 China’s Comprehensive Strength Rankings, jointly produced by the Economic Daily and the Wharton Economic Research Institute, Wuhan ranks fifth nationwide following Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Wuhan boasts many “firsts” in China

November 1979 — China’s first small-commodity market

In November 1979, a small-commodity market was restored at Hanzhen Street, becoming the first restored one of its kind in China to encourage and promote private business. Up to 103 people were licensed to run small businesses legally at that time. In the 1980s it become a nationally-known logistics center for small commodities. In an Aug.28 editorial in People’s Daily in 1982 lauded Hanzheng Street as the “Pioneering Street in China”.


Nov. 1, 1984 - The first foreign expert as a state-run factory chief director

The first foreign chef director for a state-run factory in China was Werner Gerich from Germany. He was appointed on Nov.1, 1984 to lead Wuhan Diesel Motor factory. In his two years of administration, through drastic reforms, the factory’s annual production of diesel engine increased from 18,300 to 60,000, and the products were exported to seven countries in Southeast Asia. He was the first foreign resident to receive Permanent Residence Permit in China.


November 1984 - The first technology market

As China’s first technology market, the Wuhan Technology Market was established in November 1984, and was composed of over 60 colleges, universities, research institutes and large-scale enterprises. It held various technological trade fairs from 1981 through 1985, attracting over 600,000 people nationwide. At that time Wuhan made itself an area with the largest amount of information about technological commodities in China.


June 8, 1987 - The first science & technology incubator

The Wuhan East Lake Hi-Tech Entrepreneurship Center, the first entrepreneurship incubator in China, was established on June 8, 1987. Its first risk investment benefited over 20 start-ups, 75 percent of which became well developed, including famous companies such as Wuhan Fingu Electric Technology, Sante Cableway, and Chutian Laser.


Nov. 20, 1992 The first mercantile company

Hubei Wuhan Mall Group went public in Shenzhen on Nov. 20, 1992. It was the first cross-listing and first large-scale listed mercantile company in China. Its marketing scale has increased from RMB 100 million in the 1980s to RMB 37.5 billion by the end of 2017.


2001 - China’s first specialized base for industrial cluster

Wuhan was given approval in 2001 to establish the first national optical-optical-electronics industrialization base - “Wuhan • China Optics Valley.” Currently Optics Valley is the leading research center of optical communication in China. It has also been built into China’s largest bas of fiber optic cable network manufacturing IC card network product manufacturing, and laser equipment manufacturing. As for laser equipment, Wuhan ranks first in terms of technical merits and market share in China.