Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city in China, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Datong is a city in the northern Shanxi Province in China, and is located a few hundred kilometers west by rail from Beijing with an elevation of 1090 meters. It has a population of approximately 3.11 million.
History and culture
The town was founded in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty. Located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia it blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for Camel Caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond. It was sacked at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Pingcheng became the capital of Northern Wei from 398 AD until 494 AD. The famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed during the later part of this period (460 – 494 AD).
The city was renamed Datong in 1048 AD and sacked again at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1649 AD), but promptly rebuilt in 1652 AD.
Loess landscape near Hunyuan the Yungang Grottoes or Cloud Ridge Caves are a collection of shallow caves located 16 km west of Datong. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas within these grouters, ranging from 4 centimeters to 7 meters tall. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old.
Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine Dragon Screen, the Huayan Monastery. Further afield is the Hanging Temple built into a cliff face near Mount Heng. Most of the historical sites in this region date to the Tang and Ming dynasties, but the Hanging Temple dates to the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534).
The railway locomotive works (see below) began to attract increasing numbers of railway enthusiasts from the 1970s. When construction of steam locomotives was phased out, the authorities did not want to lose this valuable tourism market, and pondered the possibility of developing a steam railway operating centre as an attraction. A number of study visits were undertaken to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury, and a twinning arrangement was concluded with that town.
Datong railway station The GDP per capita was ¥17,852 (US$2,570) per annum in 2008, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities. Coal mining is the dominant industry of Datong.Its history and development are very much linked to this commodity.
Development zones Datong Economic and Technological Development Zone.
Due to its strategic position it is also an important distribution and warehousing center for Shanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia. China Briefing Business Guide.
Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city in China, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Consequently it has developed a reputation as one of China’s most polluted cities. The Datong Coal Mining Group is based here and is China’s third largest such enterprise. Datong is indeed however an emerging economy, as the city seeks to loosen its dependence on coal, introduce more environmentally friendly and efficient methods of extraction and move into other areas of business services. Local government has continued to upgrade its pillar coal sector (and related industries like coal chemicals, power and metallurgy), while also developing "substitute industries" such as machinery manufacturing, tourism and distribution, warehousing and logistics services. This has had some impact. Datong's GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2008 to RMB56.6 billion. 2008 Datong Economy Report.
While coal will continue to dominate, Datong has been identified as one of the key cities requiring redevelopment, with part of this being in environmental cleanup, rehabilitation and industrial refocusing. Datong is a pilot city for rehabilitation studies following years of pollution. To this end it has already struck up strong relationships with other cities worldwide with similar backgrounds, and has begun plans, for example, to develop a tourism base focused on steam engine technology with antique locomotives to be used along designated tracks. China Briefing Business Guide: Datong Economy.
Datong has a large railway locomotive works, where the 'Aiming Higher' class of steam locomotive was built as late as the 1970s, possibly the last place that still constructs steam engines.
Transportation and Communication
China National Highway 208
South of Datong, there is at 39°56'43"N 113°15'7"E a VLF-transmitter of the Chinese Navy. The station has as interesting feature that 4 of its masts look like an inverted "V"-letter.