Zhu Yayun 朱亞雲

This Chronology of Nanking is based on Chinese- and English-language sources, which are listed in the Bibliography below. Links will be added so that the Chronology can be used to navigate the contents of China Heritage Annual.

472 BCE, King Goujian 勾踐 of Yue 越 orders the construction of the fort of Yuecheng 越城 outside present-day Zhonghua Gate 中華門, marking out the first city walls. Overseen by Fan Li it is also known as the Fort of Fanli 范蠡城

333 BCE, the State of Chu 楚, after defeating the State of Yue, builds Jinling Yi 金陵邑 in what is now the Bracing or Cool Hills 清涼山. This is the first appearance of the name Jinling 金陵, literally ‘gold mound’. According to legend, the First Emperor of the Qin was advised that the ‘regal air’ of the place could threaten his rule, so he renamed it 秣陵 ‘straw heap’

The Kingdom of Wu (, 222-280)

229 CE, Sun Quan 孫權 of the Kingdom of Wu 吳 relocates the capital to Jianye 建業, that is Jinling/Nanking. On a mission to Wu the strategist and prime minister of the Kingdom of Shu 蜀 Zhu Geliang (諸葛亮, 181-234) famously comments on the topography of the city, which is protected by mountains and located in a bend in the Yangtze River, that: ‘Zhongshan nestles like a dragon curling and the Stone City crouches like a tiger, truly a place of imperial majesty’ 鍾山龍蟠, 石城虎踞, 真帝王之宅. Henceforth, the place is also referred to as ‘Stone City’ 石頭城

320, emperor Yuandi inaugurates a tradition of training his imperial navy on the Back Lake (後湖, now 玄武湖), which is now also known as the Martial Drilling Lake 練湖

Southern dynasties (南朝, 420-589)

489, Qixia Temple 栖霞寺 is built during the Qi dynasty

549, the general Hou Jing (侯景, d.552) leads a rebellion and lays siege to Jiankang 建康, that is Jianye/ Jinling/ Nanking. The emperor Wu of Liang starves to death in the Terrace Citadel 臺城. The city is pillaged, palaces are razed and up to half of the population is put to the sword

Sui dynasty (, 581-618)

589, Sui forces seize the last ruler of the state of Chen, Chen Shubao (陳叔寶, 553-604) and occupy the capital. The Sui ruler orders that Jiankang ‘be flattened and turned into agricultural land’ 平蕩耕墾, obliterating all traces of the city’s celebrated glory and bringing to ending its 269-year history as a ‘place of imperial majesty’ 帝王之宅

Tang dynasty (, 618-907)

726, the poet Li Bo (李白, 701-762) visits the place for the first time. He returns in 747, 754 and 761. Li writes what is perhaps his most famous poem about the city:

On the Terrace of the Phoenix once the Phoenix roamed;
the Phoenix is gone, the terrace is empty, the River keeps flowing on.
In the palace of Wu flowers and grasses bury the unseen paths;
caps and gowns of the days of Tsin have become now ancient mounds.
Triple Mountain sinks half way, out beyond blue sky,
as one stream of water divides midcourse around White Egret Isle.
All because the drifting clouds block the bright sun,
not seeing Ch’ang-an, makes a person sad.

李白 《登金陵鳳凰台》


893, following rebellion and local conflict, the prefect of the city, Feng Hongduo 馮弘鐸, submits to the warlord Yang Xingmi (楊行密, 852-905), founder of Wu (905-937)

902, Amidst the ongoing disorder, Feng Hongduo rebels against Yang Xingmi but is defeated and replaced; the city is absorbed into Yang’s territories

Five Dynasties and

Ten Kingdoms (五代十國, 907-960)

909, Xu Zhigao (徐知誥, 889-943), the future Li Bian 李昪 and first ruler of the Southern Tang (r.937-943), is posted to the city as defence commissioner under the state of Wu. He is later promoted to prefect and uses the position to consolidate his own power. He rebuilds the city walls and the city flourishes under his administration

917, Xu Wen (徐溫, 862-927), Xu Zhigao’s foster father and de facto ruler of Wu, moves his headquarters to the city after a tour reveals the achievements of Xu Zhigao, who is transferred to Runzhou 潤州

920, the city is renamed Jinling superior prefecture and Xu Wen is appointed governor

931, Xu Zhigao, now in control of Wu after eliminating rivals among his foster brothers and the death of his foster father Xu Wen, returns to the city. Over the next two years he extends the city walls and builds a palace. This is ostensibly in preparation for the transfer of the court of Wu to the city. The move is halted because of opposition from court officials

937, Xu Zhigao takes the throne from the house of Wu and the city, renamed Jiangning 江寧, becomes his capital. The new state is first called Qi 齊, but Xu Zhigao soon changes his name to Li Bian, claiming descent from the Tang imperial house, and the state is declared to be a restoration of the Tang. It is known to history as the Southern Tang 南唐 (937-976) 

Song dynasty (, 960-1279)

Northern Song (北宋, 960-1127)

961, the second ruler of the southern Tang, Li Jing (李璟/景, r.943-961), moves the court from the city to Hongzhou 洪州 (modern Nanchang 南昌) following the loss of Huainan and the movement of Song armies north of the Yangtze River. After his death this year, his son Li Yu (李煜, r.961-976), last ruler of the Southern Tang known as Li Houzhu 李後主, brings the court back to the city

975-976, Song armies invade Jiangning 江寧 and, after a year-long siege, Li Houzhu surrenders and the Southern Tang falls

1074, the reformer Wang Anshi (王安石, 1021-1086) is posted to Jiangning as Prefect. During his time in office, he has the Lake for Martial Display 玄武湖 drained and converted into paddy fields

1084, Wang donates his home for the building of Half-hill Temple 半山寺

1086, Wang Anshi dies and is buried in the city 

Southern Song (南宋, 1127-1279)

1130, the general Yue Fei (岳飛, 1103-1142) defeats the Jurchen-led Jin armies at Ox Head Mountain 牛首山 and recaptures the city of Jiankang

1170, the scholar-bureaucrat and poet Lu You (陸游, 1125-1210) visits the city for five days before his famous trip up the Yangtze River

1261, Zhou Yinghe (周應合, 1213-1280) compiles the Gazetteer of Jiankang Prefecture in the Jingding Reign 景定建康志

1275, Marco Polo claims to have visited the city

Yuan dynasty (, 1260-1368)

1332, the renowned Mongolian poet Sa Dula (薩都剌, 1272-1355) settles in the city and writes several ci-lyric poems 詞 on its history

1343, the Lake for Martial Display is sluiced and becomes a lake once more

1344, Zhang Xuan 張鉉 compiles the New Gazetteer of Jinling 至正金陵新志

Ming dynasty (, 1368-1644)

1368, Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋, Hongwu, r.1368-1398) founds the Ming dynasty and becomes its first emperor. He chooses Yingtian 應天 as the name of the dynastic capital at modern-day Nanjing

1376, construction of the Xiaoling 孝陵 Tomb (for Zhu Yuanzhang) starts

1381, the Houhu Archive 後湖庫, personally supervised by the Hongwu emperor, is constructed on the islands of the Lake for Martial Display. It becomes the largest central archive during the Ming dynasty and houses copious land survey records 魚鱗冊 and household registration records 黃冊

1381, the Imperial College 國子監 is established. By 1422, it has become the largest place of study in the world, with several hundred foreign students from Japan, Korea and Thailand

1386, the Ming City Wall is constructed. At 33.4 kilometers in length, it is the longest city wall in the world

1387, Cock Crow Temple 雞鳴寺 is built, supposedly to appease the ghosts who are said to inhabit the hill

1395, the Ministry of Rites compiles the Illustrated Atlas of the Capital in the Hongwu Reign 洪武京城圖志, representing the capital city of Nanking by means of an imperial and political vision of the Ming government

1398, Zhu Yuanzhang dies and is interred at Xiaoling

1405, the court eunuch Zheng He (鄭和, 1371-1433) makes his first voyage to the ‘Western Oceans’ 西洋

1407, after returning from his maiden voyage, Zheng He builds the Tianfei Palace 天妃宮 in honour of the sea goddess Mazu 媽祖

1408, the Yongle Encyclopedia 永樂大典, the world’s largest known general encyclopedia at the time, is completed by the Imperial College

In October, the King of Borneo, Manarijiana, with his family and retinue of over 150, arrives in Nanking and stays in a special guesthouse called Huitong Guan 會同館. The party is fêted by the Ming court. Manarijiana flatters the Yongle Emperor by telling him that conditions in Borneo had improved significantly after a special seal of recognition (which Yongle had sent to him 1405) was received. In December, the King of Borneo dies in the Ming capital and is buried outside Andemen Gate 安德門

1421, the Yongle Emperor Zhu Di (永樂, r.1402-1424) orders the removal of the capital to Yanjing 燕京, now renamed the ‘Northern Capital’, Beijing 北京. The area dominated by Nanking, comprising much of the modern provinces of Anhui and Jiangsu, is now called the Southern Metropolitan Area 南直隸. Nanking becomes the Secondary Capital 留都 of the dynasty

1431, the Porcelain Tower of Requiting Benevolence Temple 大報恩寺琉璃塔 is built. It becomes well known in the Western world because of a detailed description and illustrations of the Tower by the Dutch traveller Johannes Nieuhoff. It is often listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and features in a number of literary and artistic works. In The Garden of Paradise Hans Christian Andersen writing in a Chinoiserie style says: ‘I have just come from China, where I danced round the porcelain tower till all the bells jingled again.’

1482, a tiger on the outskirts of the city kills a number of people

1485, a raging fire razes several halls and temples of the Ming Palace

1516, the Nanking-based scholar Chen Yi (陳沂, 1469-1538) compiles the Historical Atlas of Nanking 金陵古今圖考

1569, Hai Rui (海瑞, 1515-1587) is appointed Grand Coordinator of Yingtian prefecture

1596, Li Shizhen’s (李時珍, 1518-1593) Compendium of Materia Medica 本草纲目 is published in Nanking, three years after his death

1599, the renowned Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci (利瑪竇, 1552-1610), is granted entry to the city of Nanking where he establishes a Jesuit church, later known as the Shigu Road Catholic Church 石鼓路天主教堂

1600, the scholar and Catholic Xu Guangqi (later christened Paul, 徐光啟, 1562-1633) visits his teacher Jiao Hong (焦竑, 1540-1620) in Nanking and meets Matteo Ricci for the first time

1616, the Vice-Minister of Rites, Shen Que 沈榷, conspires to accuse the Jesuit missionaries of their associations with the rebellious White Lotus Society. Xu Guangqi defends the missionaries without success. Members of the Jesuit mission are put on trial in Peking and in Nanking. In August, the priests Alfonso Vagnoni, Alvarus de Semedo and later two other Jesuits are banished to Macao. This ‘Nanking Church Incident’ marks the first major setback for the Christian missionaries in China following the initial successes of Matteo Ricci

1617, Gu Qiyuan (顧起元, 1565-1628) completes his ten-volume biji-note book Superfluous Words from Guests’ Seats 客座贅語 which covers the geographical, historical and anecdotic features of Ming Nanking lLink

1627, Hu Zhengyan (胡正言, 1584-1674) publishes The Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting 十竹齋書畫譜

1638, the writer Zhang Dai (張岱, 1597-?1684) sojourns in Nanking for some months

1642, Zhang Dai revisits Nanking link

1644, the last emperor of the Ming dynasty, Chongzhen (崇禎, r.1627-1644) commits suicide after Li Zicheng’s rebel soldiers enter the capital Beijing. Thereafter, the Prince of Fu, Zhu Yousong 朱由崧, is enthroned as emperor in Nanking, with the support of Ma Shiying 馬士英 and Shi Kefa 史可法

Qing dynasty (, 1644-1911)

1645, Manchu troops enter Nanking and the Prince of Fu is captured. In May, Nanking is renamed Jiangnan province 江南省 and Yingtian prefecture is changed to Jiangning prefecture 江寧府

1645, the Jiangning Imperial Textile Workshop 江寧織造府 is established to supply silk and brocade 雲錦 to the imperial capital

1647, a military garrison of Manchu Bannerman 旗人 is built on the former site of the Ming Palace. Jiangning serves as the seat of government for the Viceroy of Liangjiang 兩江總督

1647, Zhang Dai completes the book of vignettes about his past, Dream Memories of Tao’an 陶庵夢憶

1649, the construction of the Manchu Bannermen Encampment of Jiangning is underway. Initially, the site is limited to the old Ming Palace area and gradually it expands outwards. Han civilians are not allowed to enter the encampment

7 August 1661, the writer and literary critic Jin Shengtan (金聖嘆, 1608?-1661) is beheaded in Sanshan Street 三山街, as the punishment for his involvement in the ‘lamenting at the Temple of Confucius’ 哭廟案 case

1668, the first gazetteer of Nanking in the Qing, the Gazetteer of Jiangning Prefecture 江宁府志, under the supervision of Jiangning prefect, Chen Kaiyu 陳開虞, is published. The gazetteer has thirty-three volumes and includes the Nanking-based painter Gao Cen’s 高岑 the Illustrated Forty Scenes of Nanking 金陵四十景圖, for which Zhou Lianggong 周亮工 writes the preface

1672, the arts patron and writer Zhou Lianggong (周亮工, 1612-1672) dies in Nanking

1679, the first edition of the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting 芥子園畫譜, complied by the Nanking-based painter Wang Gai (王槩, c.1650-c.1710), is published

1684, on his inaugural Tour of the South 南巡, the Qing emperor Kangxi visits Jiangning for the first time. He commemorates the Ming Palace and offers sacrificial wine at the Xiaoling Mausoleum. He also inscribes a stele for the tomb praising the founding Hongwu emperor of the Ming with the words ‘His rule exceeded the Tang and Song [dynasties]’ 治隆唐宋

1689, Kangxi’s second visit to Jiangning. The Jiangning Imperial Textile Workshop is used as his Detached Palace 行宮 for this and subsequent tours

1696, the playwright Kong Shanren (孔尚任, 1648-1718) visits and stays in Nanking to collect details for his play The Peach Blossom Fan 桃花扇. He visits historical sites such as the Qinhuai River, the Swallow Crag, the Ming Palace and Xiaoling. He also makes acquaintances with famous Ming loyalists and artists such as Mao Xiang 冒襄, Shi Tao 石濤 and Gong Xian 龔賢

1699, Kangxi’s third visit to Jiangning

June, Kong Shanren’s The Peach Blossom Fan 桃花扇 is completed and attracts a popular following. The play is largely based on the political and love life of remnant Ming loyalists in the Southern Ming Capital of Nanking. The play is also a particular favourite of Emperor Kangxi

1703, Kangxi’s fourth visit to Jiangning

1705, Kangxi’s fifth visit to Jiangning. In the same year, Yu Huai’s (余懷, 1616-1696) Miscellaneous Records of the Wooden Bridge 板橋雜記 is published posthumously

1707, on his last Tour of the South Kangxi visits Jiangning for a sixth time

1727, the commissioner of the Imperial Textile Workshop and father of the future novelist Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹, Cao Fu 曹頫, is imprisoned for mismanagement of funds and his family fortune is confiscated

1749, the poet, scholar and gourmet Yuan Mei (袁枚,1714-1797) buys a garden in the Little Granary Hill 小倉山 and turns it into the Garden of Accommodation 隨園 Link

1750, Wu Jingzi (吳敬梓, 1701-1754), residing in Qinhuai, completes his novel The Unofficial History of the Literati 儒林外史

1751, the Qing emperor Qianlong’s first Tour of the South during which he visits Jiangning and pays a visit to the Xiaoling Mausoleum of the founder of the Ming

1757, Qianlong visits Jiangning for a second time. He stays in the Garden of Reverence 瞻園 and inscribes the word ‘Zhan Yuan’ on a horizontal tablet above the gate 匾額

1762, Qianlong visits Jiangning for a third time

1765, Qianlong visits Jiangning for a fourth time

1780, Qianlong visits Jiangning for a fifth time

1784, Qianlong’s sixth and final Tour of the South

1796, Yuan Mei’s celebrated book of recipes, 隨園食單 is published Link

1832, the renowned scholar Gan Xi’s (甘熙, 1798-1852) father Gan Fu 甘福 builds the biggest private library in Nanking, the Pavilion of Guided Enlightenment 津逮樓, modelled on the Pavilion of Heaven’s Oneness 天一閣 in Ningbo

29 August 1842, on HMS Cornwallis anchored at Xiaguan 下關, the Treaty of Nanking 南京條約 is signed marking the end of the First Opium War (1839-1842) between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Qing dynasty. The treaty cedes Hong Kong to the British, imposes a huge indemnity on the Qing court and opens several port cities to foreign trade. It is considered to be the first ‘unequal treaty’ 不平等條約

1847, Gan Xi completes his record of the local history and life of Nanking Trivial Words of Baixia 白下瑣言 in eight volumes. The contents cover a variety of local subjects ranging from the environs and waterways of the city, old residences and tombs, to historic anecdotes and local customs

19 March 1853, anti-Manchu and Qing rebel troops detonate explosives in the tunnel under Yifengmen Gate 儀鳳門 and capture the city of Nanking

29 March, Hong Xiuqian (洪秀全, 1814-1864) establishes the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom 太平天國 and converts the Office of the Viceroy of Liangjiang 兩江總督署 into his Palace of the Heavenly King 天王府. Nanking is renamed the Heavenly Capital 天京

This year, the library, the Pavilion of Guided Enlightenment, is burnt to ground

1853, The Garden of Accommodation is destroyed and turned into arable land

1856, the Porcelain Tower is razed by Taiping troops during factional warfare

In mid 1864, under the leadership of Zeng Guofan (曾國藩, 1811-1872) and his brother Zeng Guoquan (曾國荃, 1824-1890) imperial Qing forces blast through a section of the city wall and reclaim Nanking. The imperial army kills some 100,000 people, loots and sets the city ablaze

1865, during the Self-Strengthening Movement 洋務運動, Li Hongzhang (李鴻章, 1823-1901) builds the first modern armament factory, the Jinling Arsenal 金陵機器製造局

1866, the scholar and Buddhist lay devotee Yang Renshan (楊仁山, 1837-1911) builds the Jinling Buddhist Press 金陵刻經處, which starts reprinting Buddhist writings from newly cut printing blocks link

Late 1870, Zeng Guofan restores the provincial imperial civil service examinations following an eleven-year interruption due to the Taiping War

1874, the Suzhou prefect Hu Enxie (胡恩燮, 1824-1892) resigns from his office and returns to Nanking, where he buys deserted land to build his Garden of Follies 愚園 LINK

1892, Zhang Jingqi 張景祁 publishes the Images of the Eight Beauties of Qinhuai 秦淮八艷圖, in which eight famous late-Ming courtesans are featured. They are: Ma Xianglan馬湘蘭, Bian yujing卞玉京, Li Xiangjun 李香君, Liu Rushi 柳如是, Dong Xiaowan 董小宛, Gu Hengbo 顧橫波, Kou Baimen 寇白門, and Chen Yuanyuan 陳圓圓. It coins the expression ‘Qinhuai Eight Beauties’ 秦淮八艷 which feature in later literary and artistic representations

1895, Zhang Zhidong (張之洞, 1837-1909), Viceroy of Liangjiang, builds the first modern asphalt road in Nanking. The road traverses the city from Xiaguan on the edge of the Yangtze River, entering the city at Yifengmen Gate and exiting east at Tongjimen Gate 通濟門

1897, the Jinling Buddhist Press is moved to Yang Renshan’s family residence in Yanling Lane 延齡巷. With its expansive gardens and spacious rooms, the entire property is named Deep Willows Study Hall 深柳讀書堂 and becomes the permanent home of the press link

7 May 1898, Lu Xun (魯迅 [周树人], 1881-1936) arrives in the city and attends first the Jiangnan Naval Academy 江南水師學堂 and later the School of Mines and Railways 礦路學堂 at the Jiangnan Military Academy 江南陸師學堂

1899, Xiaguan opens as a treaty port and international shipping companies such as Jardines, Swire and Osaka Shōsen construct wharves

1908, John Leighton Stuart (司徒雷登, 1876-1962) becomes a professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at the Nanking Theological Seminary 金陵協和神學院

1 April, the Shanghai-Nanking Railway 滬寧鐵路 is completed. It is about 307 kilometers long and there are thirty-seven stations along the route from Shanghai North Station to Xiaguan Station

1907, Duanfang 端方, Viceroy of Liangjiang, establishes China’s first modern public library—Jiangnan Library 江南圖書館—on the old site of Academy of Cherishing Time 惜陰書院

1908, the first modern Buddhist teaching institution, the Jetavana Monastry 祇洹精舍, is established at the site of the Jinling Buddhist Printery, where Su Manshu (蘇曼殊, 1884-1918) teaches English and Yang Renshan lectures on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayānā 大乘起信論. Two years later the school closes due to a lack of funds

5 June 1910, China’s first nation-wide exposition, the Nanyang Industrial Exposition 南洋勸業會, opens. The main show grounds are located in the Dingjiaqiao, Zizhulin and Sanpailou areas and cover approximately 700 mu. By its closing day on 29 November, the Exposition has attracted some 300,000 visitors. The writer Lu Xun, then a high-school teacher in Shaoxing 紹興, leads a group of 200 students to see the Expo

August, Jiangnan Library opens to the public. The historian, bibliographer and book collector Miao Quansun (繆荃孫, 1844-1919) acts as its founding director

Republic of China (中華民國, 1911-1949)

29 December 1911, Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙/中山, 1866-1925) is elected as the first Provisional President of the newly founded Republic of China by the Nanking assembly which represents seventeen provinces

1 January 1912, Sun Yat-sen is officially inaugurated as President of the Republic of China in Nanking

15 February, three days after the abdication of the last emperor Puyi 溥儀, President Sun Yat-sen takes part in a ceremony of sacrifice and prayer at the Xiaoling Tomb at which he announces to the founding ruler of the Ming the end of ‘barbarian’ Manchu rule and the ‘return of the light’ 光復 Link

1912, the Jinpu Railway 津浦鐵路 is completed. At a length of 1009 kilometres it runs from Tianjin 天津 to Pukou 浦口 outside Nanking

15 December, Nanking Charitable Technical Workshop 南京善後工藝廠 is founded to help post-Qing Manchu Bannermen to survive now that their imperial stipends have been cut off. More than two hundred workers and up to one hundred primary school students are accepted. Men learn to make leather and bamboo products and women learn to weave. There are around three thousand and five hundred Bannermen who live in abject poverty and have no means of livelihood

September 1915, Ginling College 金陵女子大學 is founded by American missionaries. It is located at the original site of Li Hongzhang’s residence

1916, John Leighton Stuart is appointed president of the University of Nanking. He becomes president of Yenching University in Beijing on 1 January 1919

1918, the Japanese writer Tanizaki Jun’ichirō (谷崎潤一郎, 1886-1965) visits China from mid-October to early December. He spends about two nights in Nanking and writes a novella based on his sightseeing there, A Night in Qinhuai 秦淮の夜 link

1919, Minnie Vautrin (魏特琳, 1886-1941) takes up the position of Chairwoman of the Education Department of Ginling College

1920-1923, the Nobel Literature laureate, Pearl S Buck (赛珍珠, 1892-1973) teaches at Nanking University

1922, Ouyang Jingwu (歐陽竟無, 1871-1943) and Lü Cheng (呂澂, 1896-1989) found the Buddhist Academy of China 支那內學院, where the Neo-Confucianist Xiong Shili (熊十力, 1885-1968) studies

August 1923, Zhu Ziqing (朱自清, 1898-1928) and Yu Pingbo (俞平伯, 1900-1990) visit Qinhuai. Subsquently both write two famous essays with the same title: Qinhuai River: the sound of oars and the shadow of lights 槳聲燈影里的秦淮河 Link

12 March 1925, Nanking mourns the passing of Sun Yat-sen

21 April, Sun’s wife, Soong Ching-ling (宋慶齡, 1893-1981), selects the site for Sun’s burial not far from the Xiaoling Mausoleum of the founding emperor of the Ming

20 September 1925, the proposed design by the America-trained architect Lü Yanzhi (吕彦直, 1894-1929) wins the competition for the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. The Selection Committee remarks that his entry ‘fused the spirits of both ancient Chinese and Western architecture, solemn, simple, and created a distinctive novelty’ link to Wagner

November, Zhu Ziqing’s sentimental essay The View from the Rear 背影 is published in Literature Weekly 文學週刊. The story recounts the scene of a father seeing off his son at the Pukou Station. It has been included in Chinese high school textbooks from soon after its initial publication to the present day

15 January 1926, construction on the Sun Mausoleum starts at Purple Mountain 紫金山

24 March 1927, a Nationalist-led army under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek captures Nanking from the warlord Sun Chuanfang (孫傳芳, 1885-1935). A number of foreign residents are raped and killed, their properties pillaged and burnt. The Vice-President of the Nanking University, John E. Williams, is executed. This is known as the Nanking Incident. Alice Tisdale Hobart offers a first-hand account of the incident in her 1928 book Within the Walls of Nanking link

18 April, Chiang Kai-shek establishes the Nationalist government with Nanking as its capital. In the same year, the Nationalists convert part of the Ming Palace site into an airport called the ‘Ming Palace Airport’

1928, the prominent meteorologist and geologist Zhu Kezhen (竺可楨, 1890-1974) establishes China’s first modern meteorological institute in the hills of the North Pole Tower 北極閣 link?

9 June, the Academia Sinica 中央研究院 is founded in Shanghai, its first president is Cai Yuanpei 蔡元培. Several institutes, including the Institute of History and Philology, are established near the Cock Crow Temple in Nanking

January 1929, the prolific architect Yang Tingbao (楊廷寶, 1901-1982) builds a complex of three buildings collectively known as the Lizhi Association of Huangpu Classmates Society 黃埔同學會勵志社

4 March, the Japanese businessman, and Sun Yat-sen’s friend and patron Umeya Shōkichi 梅屋莊吉 donates a bronze statue of Dr Sun to Nanking. Originally set up at the Nationalist Military Academy, in November 1942 it is moved during the Wang Jingwei puppet regmine to its present position at the centre of the Xinjiekou 新街口 roundabout

1 June, the official ceremony for Sun Yat-sen’s interment is held at the newly constructed Zhongshan Mausoleum 中山陵

31 December, the National Capital Reconstruction Commission 首都建設委員會 promulgates the Capital Plan 首都計畫 compiled by the Office of Technical Experts for Capital Design 國都設計技術專員辦事處. It covers a range of projects pertaining to zoning, infrastructure, transportation, and laws and regulations of the city. The plan is influenced by the urban plans of major international capitals as well as the three new capital cities of Ankara, New Delhi and Canberra

1929, Sans Souci Lake 莫愁湖, once the private garden of the Ming official Xu Da, is converted into a public park

23 December 1931, members of the split Nationalist Central Committee join to stand in silence in front of Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum to show their unity and dedication to the principles proposed by Sun, which leads to Lu Xun’s satirical poem published two days later (see below)

25 December, Lu Xun publishes a poem named ‘A Nanking Ditty’ 南京民謠 in the magazine Crossroads 十字街頭. The poem reads, ‘On the Sun Mausoleum’s lofty stairs, robbers pay homage with solemn airs: in a ten-minute silence, side by side there, each plots his next move when the struggles flare’ 大家去謁靈,強盜裝正經。靜默十分鐘,各自想拳經。

21 January 1933, the National Central Library 國立中央圖書館 is established in Sage Making Street 成賢街

6 February to 15 May, following the fall of the Mountain and Sea Pass 山海關 of the Great Wall to the northwest of the former capital now named Beiping to the invading Japanese, 13,427 crates of art treasures and ancient relics from the Palace Museum are moved to Shanghai, and then delivered to the warehouses in Nanking lest they fall into the hands of Japanese invaders

16 February, Lu Xun, writing under the pen name Dongxuan 動軒, publishes a short satirical article in the fortnightly literary magazine The Analects 論語 entitled ‘Students and Jade Buddhas’ 學生和玉佛 criticising the government for giving priority to the preservation and safekeeping of cultural relics over more pressing problems such as the defence of the country and resistance against the Japanese. The verse at the end of the article reads:

Forlorn, the city remains empty,
In a flurry, her ancient relics removed.
For face saving, our big-talking ‘head’
Are to the ‘backbones of society’ behooved,
Alarm in times like these—wherefore deem it panic?
They flee, self-preservation bent.
Not born Jade Buddhas, they lament
Their lives are nary worth a cent.


1 September 1934, the Purple Mountain Observatory 紫金山天文台 opens

1935, Gazetteer of the Capital 首都志, edited by Ye Chucang 葉楚傖 and Liu Yezheng 柳詒徵 and compiled by Wang Huanbiao 王焕镳 is published

July, the painter Fu Baoshi (傅抱石, 1904-1965) takes up a teaching position at the Arts Department of Central University 國立中央大學 at the invitation of the artist Xu Beihong 徐悲鴻

1 September 1936, the National Central Library opens to the public

26 September, depositories are built at the Ming-era Chaotian Temple 朝天宮to hold the treasures from the Palace Museum

September, the writer Yao Ying’s 姚穎 Nanking Report 京話 is published. It is acclaimed as the ‘first literary work of political humour and satire in modern China’ Link

12 November, construction work begins on the National Central Museum

20 November 1937, due to the invasion of Japanese forces the National Government is removed to the wartime capital of Chongqing to lead the anti-Japanese resistance

13 December, the Imperial Japanese Army enters into the city of Nanking. During the following six-weeks hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers are raped and murdered by Japanese troops. The Nanking Massacre or the Rape of Nanking is reported around the world but the details remain contested among both Chinese and Japanese historians to this day

On the eve of the fall of Nanking, a Nanking Safety Zone 南京安全區 is established under the aegis of an international committee in the city led by the German businessman John Rabe (1882-1950). The zone is similar in size to Central Park in New York and is located around the US Embassy. The Nanking Safety Zone shelters approximately 250,000 Chinese people during the Nanking Massacre. Other well-known members of the International Committee include Dr Lewis SC Smythe and Minnie Vautrin. Rabe’s house is later made into a commemorative site

17 December, Japanese forces hold a formal ceremony at Zhongshanmen Gate 中山門, the main southern gate entrance to the city to commemorate the conquest

30 March 1940, a collaborationist puppet National Government is established with Wang Jingwei (汪精卫, 1883-1944) serving as Chairman and President of Executive Yuan.

March 1941, the Wang Jinwei regime official Chun Qun (陳群, 1890-1945) starts work on his library, the Depository of Extant Ancient Writings 澤存書庫 Link

1942, the Taiwanese writer and journalist Wu Chuo-liu (吳濁流, 1900-1976), publishes his serial travelogue Nanking Jottings 南京雜感, in which he recounts his experiences of the city during his stint as a journalist for the Mainland New Daily 大陸新報. It becomes the prototype of the later part of his best-known novel Orphan of Asia 亞西亞的孤兒

10 November 1944, Wang Jingwei dies in Nagoya, Japan. Two days later his body is returned to Nanking and is buried at Plum Blossom Mountain 梅花山

1944, Hedda Morrison (nee Hedda Hammer) travels to Nanking. In the summer of 1945, 198 black and white photographs of Nanking are published in a book entitled Nanking: 200 Aufnahmen von Hedda Hammer link

15 August 1945, a radio message from the Japanese Emperor Hirohito is broadcast marking the surrender of Japanese forces throughout the Japanese Empire and its conquered territories

9:00am, 9 September, the Commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次, 1884-1966) signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender formally conceding defeat to the Chinese National Government General He Yinqin (何應欽, 1890-1987). The ceremony takes place at the Nanjing Military Headquarters 南京陸軍總部 on Huangpu Road 黃埔路

23 March 1946, Douglas Berry Copland succeeds Frederic William Eggleston as Australian Minister to the Republic of China. Following a short stint in Chongqing he takes up residence in Nanking. Copland remains in this position until 1948, travelling widely, observing the decline of the Chiang Kai-shek government in Nanking

3 May, the formal delegation of the Chinese Communist Party under Zhou Enlai 周恩來 and Dong Biwu 董必武, which has its headquarters at the Plum Blossom New Village 梅園新村, embarks upon a series of peace negotiations with the Nationalist Government. On 7 March of the following year, the peace talks break down and the delegation returns to the Communist war-time base of Yan’an 延安 in Shaanxi province

1 May, the National Government issues an Order to Return to the Capital 還都, that is to move back to the pre-war capital of Nanking

5 May, a formal ceremony is held to mark the return of the national capital from Chongqing to Nanking. On the same day, the entire civil and military leadership of the KMT government holds a ceremonial procession at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum at Zhongshan

4 July 1946, John Leighton Stuart is appointed US Ambassador to China

25 December, a new Constitution is ratified by the National Assembly

26 March, 1948, Douglas Berry Copland leaves Nanking with his wife, Lady Copland, to boards a plane from Shanghai on 28 March. They travel to Canberra where Copland takes up the office of foundation Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University. Shortly thereafter he revives the George E Morrison Lectures and moves the series to the new university 

People’s Republic of China (中華人民共和國, 1949- )

The Maoist Years, 1949-1978

1 April 1949, Nationalist Party representatives travel to Beiping to hold peace talks with representatives of the Communist Party. Around 6,000 students and civilians demonstrate in support of the peace talks

20 April, the Nationalist Government rejects the eight peace terms dictated by the Communist Party leadership

20 April, Mao Zedong issues an order for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to advance on the whole country

23 April, the PLA crosses the Yangtze River at Pukou and occupies the Presidential Palace 總統府 in central Nanjing. The city falls to the Chinese Communist Party. That same day, Mao, in temporary residence in a villa in the Western Hills outside Beiping (a famous photograph shows him reading the news of the ‘liberation’ of Nanjing at the Shuangqing Villa 雙清別墅), having just learnt of the fall of the Nationalist capital writes a poem titled ‘The Capture of Nanking by the People’s Liberation Army’ 人民解放軍佔領南京. In it he uses Zhuge Liang’s famous third-century epithet for the city (like ‘a tiger crouching, a dragon curling’ 虎踞龍盤):

Over Mount Zhong swept a storm, headlong,
Our mighty army, a million strong, has crossed the Great River.
The City, a tiger crouching, a dragon curling, outshines its ancient glories;
In heroic triumph heaven and earth have been overturned.
With power and to spare we must pursue the tottering foe
And not ape Hsiang Yu the conqueror seeking idle fame.
Were Nature sentient, she too would pass from youth to age,
But Man’s world is mutable, seas become mulberry fields.


30 April, the first issue of Xinhua Daily 新華日報 is published in Nanjing

2 July, the noted artist Wu Zuoren (吳作人, 1908-1997) paints Good Tidings 捷報, a visual representation of civilians in Beiping celebrating the liberation of Nanjing

2 August, John Leighton Stuart quits the US embassy in the former Nationalist capital. The embassy compound on 33 Xikang Road will soon be converted into the Provincial Guest House used by visiting Party leaders and dignitaries, including Mao Zedong

8 August, Mao Zedong publishes a biting article titled ‘Farewell, Leighton Stuart!’ 別了,司徒雷登, in which he describes the US ambassador as being ‘standing all alone, body and shadow comforting each other’, remarking that there is no place for him in the new regime

9 September 1952, the city of Nanjing along with the Sunan and Subei Administrative Zones are combined into Jiangsu province with Nanjing as the provincial capital

22 February 1953, Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, visits Nanjing for the first time. He goes to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, writes the calligraphy for the masthead of Xinhua Daily. He stays the night and in the following day visits the Xiaguan Docks to inspect some naval vessels, during which time he emphasises the need for China to build a strong navy

13 September 1954, the Municipal Committee decides to demolish the Ming City Wall. The policy stipulates that apart from sections of important historical and scenic values and sections that guard the city against air raids and floods, all the rest be destroyed

8-9 October 1955, the French writer Jean-Paul Sartre visits Nanjing

11 January 1956, Mao Zedong visits Nanjing for a second time. Over the following two decades, Mao would visit the city on over twenty occasions (his ‘secondary residence’ was on the shore of West Lake in Hangzhou link). Initially staying in the former US Ambassador’s residence as noted above, he would later be lodged in hill villas at Mount Zhongshan and close to a rail siding that could accommodate his private train at Yicun 伊村 (now part of the Yicun Hotel 伊村飯店). These various residences are now commonly referred to as his ‘travelling palaces’ 行宫

23 September, Zhu Xie (朱偰, 1907-1968), publishes an essay in Xinhua Daily titled ‘Nanjing municipal construction authorities should not randomly knock down the Wall’. By the end of the year only 12,400 metres of the Ming City Wall is left standing, Zhonghuamen Gate 中華門, Xuanwumen Gate 玄武門, Jiefangmen Gate 解放門, Yijiangmen Gate 挹江門 and Zhongshanmen Gate 中山門 are the only gates that survive the demolition

16 May 1960, archaeologists from the Nanjing Museum discover a molded-brick relief called ‘The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi’ 竹林七賢與榮啟期 in an Eastern Jin dynasty tomb excavated at Xishanqiao 西善橋, a southwestern neighborhood of Nanjing

21 December, Cambodian Prince Norodom Sihanouk, accompanied by Premier Zhou Enlai and Vice-Premier Chen Yi 陳毅, visits Nanjing

15 December 1962, Mao Zedong meets party cadres at Nanjing’s Great Hall of the People 南京人民大會堂

16 June 1966, an editorial in People’s Daily 人民日報 denounces the President of Nanjing University, Kuang Yaming 匡亞明, as a counter-revolutionary and a leading bourgeois academic authority, heralding the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in Nanjing

15 July 1968, the economist, heritage conservationist and writer Zhu Xie commits suicide after enduring years of unjust treatment

30 September, the railway section on the lower deck of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge 南京長江大橋 is completed

29 December, the roadway of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge is completed and officially opened to traffic

December, Zhang Ning 張寧, a dancer at the Battlefront Song and Dance Troupe of the Nanjing Military Area of the People’s Liberation Army 南京軍區前線歌舞團, is selected in a beauty contest style as the future wife of Lin Liguo 林立果, Vice-Premier Lin Biao’s 林彪 son. Lin dies in 1971 before the marriage can take place. Under suspicion of collusion with the ‘Lin Biao Anti-Party Clique’, Zhang Ning is only released from detention in Beijing in September 1975

1969, the Taiwanese writer Chen Jo-hsi (陳若曦, b.1938) takes up a teaching position at Hohai University 河海大學 in Nanjing. She later writes a number of short stories set in the Nanjing of the Cultural Revolution era. Simon Leys calls Chen ‘the only Chinese creative writer of major stature to provide us with literary testimony on the Cultural Revolution era at the grass-roots level.’

1:40am, 21 September, Mao Zedong inspects the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, a symbolically important moment for the leader since for a time the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek had proposed that the Communists rule China north of the Yangtze and the Nationalists occupy the south

May 1973, the Harvard-based linguist Chao Yuen Ren (趙元任, 1892-1982) and his wife (and Yang Renshan’s granddaughter) Yang Buwei (楊步偉, 1889-1981) visit the People’s Republic of China for the first time. Premier Zhou Enlai grants them an audience and issues instructions for the protection and renovation of the Jinling Buddhist Press

25 July, a fire caused by a careless worker razes the Cock Crows Temple to the ground

30 January 1974, People’s Daily attacks the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni for showing unfavourable images of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in his 1972 documentary Chung Kuo, Cina

19-21 April 1974, the French writer Roland Barthes and a delegation of the Tel Quel Group including Julia Kristeva, Philippe Sollers and Marcelin Pleynet visit Nanjing as a part of their China trip. Barthes’s travel notes are published in 2012 under the title Travels in China

28-31 March 1976, hundreds of teachers and students of Nanjing University, in reaction to an Wenhui Bao 文匯報 article criticizing Deng Xiaoping and the late Zhou Enlai, take to the streets and put up big-character posters to denounce the ‘Gang of Four’. It is known as Anti-Cultural Revolution Force Movement 南京反文革勢力運動 and leads to the 5 April Tiananmen Incident 天安門四五事件

18 September, the party-state authorities organise a public mourning ceremony of 400,000 at the Drum Tower Public Square for Mao Zedong who died on 9 September

The Reform Era, 1978-1999

11 May 1978, the Guangming Daily 光明日報, sanctioned by the senior party official Hu Yaobang 胡耀邦, publishes Hu Fuming’s (胡福明, b.1935) heavily edited article ‘Practice is the Sole Criteria for Testing Truth’ 實踐是檢驗真理的唯一標準. The article by Hu Fuming, a forty-three-year-old associate professor in the Philosophy Department at Nanjing University, initiates a nationwide debate. In it Hu challenges the ‘Two Whatevers’ 兩個凡是 doctrine in the Cultural Revolution: ‘we will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave’ 凡是毛主席作出的決策,我們都堅決維護; 凡是毛主席的指示,我們都始終不渝地遵循. It later becomes one of the milestones in Chinese intellectual history and post-Cultural Revolution de-Maoification

21 December, Nanjing and Nagoya are twinned as ‘friendship cities’

22 April 1979, the Crossing the Yangtze Monument 渡江勝利紀念碑 is erected on Jehol Road 熱河路, Xiaguan on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the liberation of Nanjing. Deng Xiaoping provides a calligraphic inscription

28-30 May 1981, British writer Stephen Spender and painter David Hockney visit Nanjing and later publish vignettes of their travels under the title China Dairy (1982)

4 October 1983, Jinling Hotel 金陵飯店, located in Nanjing’s premium commercial district, Xinjiekou 新街口, is opened. It is the city’s first modern hotel and, at the time, it was the tallest building in China

15 August 1985, The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall 侵華日軍南京大屠殺遇難同胞紀念館, commemorating the 300,000 Nanjing Massacre victims, is built in Jiangdongmen Gate 江東門, near a site where thousands of bodies were buried by the Japanese forces. It occupies a total area of some 28,000 square metres. Deng Xiaoping provides a calligraphic inscription

1985, the Nanjing-based poet and writer Han Dong (韓東, b.1961) establishes ‘The Others Literary Society’ 他們文學社 and edits the short-lived but influential poetry magazine ‘The Others’, and becomes one of the leading figures of Third Generation Poetry 第三代詩歌

December 1988 to January 1989, the Chinese students from Hohai University hold mass demonstrations and riots against African students in Nanjing

1992, the production team of the popular TV drama series The New Legend of the White-Snake Lady 新白娘子傳奇 borrows the site of the Cock Crows Temple to film the scenes that is related to the Leifeng Pagoda 雷峰塔 on West Lake in Hangzhou link

December 1996, Librairie Avant-Garde 先鋒書店 opens for business on Taiping Nanlu. After a number of relocations and expansions, the independent bookshop becomes a cultural landmark of Nanjing and now is a major drawcard for touring writers, visitors and the local reading public

June 1997, celebrations are held on the grounds of the Temple of Tranquil Sea 靜海寺 to celebrate the return of the former British colony of Hong Kong to China. A large bronze Awakening Bell is placed in a courtyard to remind visitors of the historical humiliation of the British occupation of Hong Kong and the New Territories

This year, the statute of a kneeling Wang Jingwei in the Plum Blossom Mountain 梅花山 is removed. The statute faces the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and has regularly been spat upon and urinated on by visitors, à la Qin Hui 秦檜 at the Yue Fei Temple 岳飛廟 at West Lake

24 May 1998, Murayama Tomiichi (村山富市, b.1924) becomes the first former Prime Minster of Japan to visit the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

The New Millennium, 2000-2013

February 2000, the Presidential Palace is opened to the public as a museum after over half a century of being off limits to visitors (it was previously the headquarters of the Jiangsu Provincial Communist Party). The palace contains Nationalist-era government offices as well as the remains of the Heavenly Palace of the Taiping Rebellion and the Viceroy’s Office of Liangjiang of the Qing dynasty

12 December, construction work starts on the Nanjing subway system

26 March 2001, work on the Number Two Yangtze Bridge 南京長江第二大橋 is completed. It is the largest bridge in China and the third largest in the world

September, the construction of the Tower for Viewing the Yangtze 閱江樓 on the summit of Lion Hill 獅子山 is completed. In 1374, both the founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, and the historian Song Lian (宋濂, 1310-1381) wrote texts titled A Record of the Tower for Viewing the Yangtze 閱江樓記 before any tower was actually built

December, the northern half of Xuanwu Lake is drained to construct an east-west underground traffic tunnel. By December, many old Qing residential alleyways, with Qing and Republican two-storey brick and wood houses, are levelled by developers during the city’s building boom, and only significant historic buildings are left standing, isolated from their former environs

2003, the Nanjing Urban Planning Bureau 南京市規劃局 inscribes 134 historic late-Qing and Republican buildings on its heritage list. In the same year, a renowned American architect, Steven Holl, designs the Nanjing Sifang Art Museum 南京四方当代美术馆 in the Laoshan National Forest Reserve 老山国家森林公園. In this building he employs old materials recycled from demolished houses. The private contemporary arts centre is scheduled to be opened to the public in June 2013

3 July 2003, Xiaoling Tomb is inscribed as an extension of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties on the UNESCO World Heritage List

30 April-5 May, Nanjing hosts UNESCO’s World Historical and Cultural Cities Expo. This event is attended by mayors and representatives of domestic and international heritage rich cities such as Luoyang, Xi’an, Florence, Malacca, Melbourne, St. Petersburg and Vienna

26 September, the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) 中國獨立影像年度展, curated by Zhang Yaxuan 張亞璇 and Cao Kai 曹恺, is inaugurated

12 April 2005, the New Forty-eight Scenes of Jinling 金陵新四十八景 are announced in the Jinling Evening Post 金陵晚報

27 April, the former Chinese Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan (連戰, b.1936) and other KMT officials visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. This marks the first post-1949 visit by Nationalist Party members to the iconic site. In his speech at the time Lien Chan declares that: ‘For the Kuomingtang, Nanjing is a place where our historical and emotional connections linger.’

3 September, Nanjing’s first subway, Metro Line 1 starts operation

2006, following extensive restoration the Residence of Gan Xi 甘熙宅第, a mid-Qing mansion in the centre of the city, opens as the Nanjing Folk Musuem 南京民俗博物馆

2008, the Jiangsu Longjiang Shipyard 江蘇龍江造船有限公司 starts building a replica of Admiral Zheng He’s treasure boat. Upon completion it is claimed it will be the largest wooden vessel in the world. The ship was scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2014, and thirty-six volunteers were to be selected in 2015 to man the ship and retrace the sea routes of the Ming eunuch navigator Zheng He. Various reasons have been given for delays in completing the project

27 May, another former Nationalist Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄, b.1939) pays homage at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

January 2009, the construction of the Grand Prospect Garden 大觀園, also known as the Jiangning Imperial Textiles Museum, designed by the Beijing-based architect Wu Liangyong 吳良鏞, is completed but the site is not opened to the public because of the ongoing tussle between the government and a private developer. The imaginative construction of a garden made famous by the Qing-dynasty novel Dream of the Red Chamber 紅樓夢 (also known as The Story of the Stone 石頭記) is criticised by the public as an example of a ‘counterfeit relic’ 假古董

22 April, the film-maker Lu Chuan’s (陸川, b.1971) feature-length film City of Life and Death, known in Chinese as Nanking! Nanking! 南京!南京! is released. The film is based on the Nanking Massacre during the Second Sino-Japanese War and garners positive critical reviews both in China and internationally link

July, Ge Liang’s 葛亮 novel Scarlet Finch 朱雀 is published. It chronicles the destinies of three generations through the tumultuous events in the history of modern Nanjing. The book is selected as one of the ten best works of fiction in Chinese by the Hong Kong-based magazine Asiaweek in 2010

10 February 2010, Nanjing wins the bid to host the Second Summer Youth Olympic Games from 16-28 August 2014 at the 122nd Session of the International Olympic Committee in Vancouver. Nanjing beats Poznan, Poland by forty-seven to forty-two votes

28 May, Metro Line 2 and the south extension of Metro Line 1 start operation. At the time of writing, another six metro lines are under construction

3 June-25 July, the Nanjing Museum holds a ‘Matteo Ricci: An Encounter of Civilizations in Ming China’ exhibition to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of Matteo Ricci’s death

28 September, Zifeng Tower 紫峰大厦 is completed. At a height of 450 meters, it is claimed to be the seventh tallest building in the world and the second tallest in mainland China

8 November, Wang Jianlin 王健林, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, donates one billion Renminbi to the Nanjing municipal government to reconstruct the Porcelain Tower. It is the largest individual donation ever recorded in China

19 March 2011, hundreds of Nanjing residents brave the rain to stage a protest against the government’s decision to uproot as many as one thousand sycamores—the famous Wutong trees 梧桐 of the city. The trees are to be felled to make way for the Metro Line 3. Eventually 318 trees are removed

March, a Melbourne-based architectural firm, CK Designworks, publicises its master plan for a project to build atwenty square-kilometer city in the Pukou District

August, CK Designworks is commissioned by the Nanjing Department of Tourism and Conservation to develop a new public transport system between Purple Mountain and Xuanwu Lake. The proposed master plan notably features a cable car ropeway facility

December, a film based on the Rape of Nanking, The Flowers of War 金陵十三釵, directed by the renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou 張藝謀 and starring Hollywood celebrity Christian Bale, is released in China just days after the seventy-fourth anniversary of the massacre. It is the top-earning Chinese film of the year

21 February 2012, Nagoya’s friendship city status is suspended after statements made by its Mayor Takashi Kawamura 河村隆之 in which he denies the Nanjing Massacre

20 April, the state-owned CSC Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing is commissioned by Clive Palmer, an Australian mining magnet from Queensland, to build Titanic II. It will have 840 cabins and measure 270 metres in length and be fifty-three metres high. Its maiden voyage is scheduled for 2016

May, a PR stunt by the Italian car manufacturer Ferrari to celebrate its twenty years in the Chinese market causes a public outcry. A Ferrari wheel-spins on the rampart of the City Wall of Ming and leaves almost indelible tyre marks on the ancient structure

17 May, on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of Nanjing University the Pearl S. Buck Memorial House is opened to the public

5 September, the prominent essayist, bibliophile and book collector Huang Shang (黃裳, b.1919) dies in Shanghai. During his lifetime he published over forty essays on the culture, history, sites and street life of Nanjing

2 October, the United States-based prize winning novelist Ha Jin 哈金 publishes Nanjing Requiem, a fictional account of Minnie Vautrin and the tragic events of December 1937

21 November, following a passionate process of popular involvement and expert consultation, the ‘New Forty-eight Scenes of Jinling’ 新金陵四十八景 are announced by Jinling Evening Post 金陵晚報. The list incorporates a number of new sites that had been constructed following the publication of the initial list in 2005. They are:


24 December, Nanjing Number Four Yangtze Bridge 南京長江第四大橋, touted as China’s ‘Golden Gate Bridge’, is opened. It is the world’s sixth longest suspension bridge

30 January 2013, as the air quality in Beijing deteriorates, the so-called ‘Number One Philanthropist in China’, Nanjing-based billionaire Chen Guangbiao 陳光標 gives away his ‘Cheng Guangbiao—the good man’ canned fresh air to Beijing residents

1 May 2013, a reconstructed Jiangning Imperial Silk Manufacturing Museum 江寧織造博物館, which is also a vast shopping mall, opens to the public

12 May, a cargo ship carrying 12,500 tons of limestone hits a pier of the Yangtze River Bridge. The ship sinks although the bridge remains intact

To update: 2013-2016

The writer and scholar Yao Yuan’s 姚遠 essays on heritage protection

Nanjing popular memory organisation

2015, the infamous ‘Bulldozer Mayor’ Ji Jianye, who was responsible for the destruction of many heritage buildings and aspects of the city, is sentenced to fifteen years gaol for using his position as a leader in Kunshan, Yangzhou and Nanjing for personal gain and profiting associates

2016-2017 plans to build mega green structures in the city

Note and Sources:

I would like to express my gratitude to Geremie Barmé for his extensive editing of this text and his detailed comments and suggestions, and to Nathan Woolley for his advice and for providing material compilation on the history of the city during the Five Dynasties period.

The chronology is based on the following books, chapters and articles, as well as on the contents of this inaugural issue of China Heritage Annual:

Barry Till, In Search of Old Nanking, Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Co., 1982.
Endymion Wilkinson, Chinese History: A New Manual, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asian Centre, 2012.
Eric Danielson, Nanjing and the Lower Yangzi, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International, 2004.
Fei Si-yen 費絲言, Negotiating Urban Space: Urbanization and Late Ming Nanjing, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.
Jon Eugene von Kowallis, The Lyrical Lu Xun: A Study of His Classical-Style Verse, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1996.
Lü Xiao 呂曉, Researches on Jinling Painters During the Late-Ming and Early Qing Dynasties 明末清初金陵畫壇研究, Nanning: Guangxi Meishu Chubanshe, 2012.
Stephen Owen, ‘Place: Meditation on the Past at Chin-ling’, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 50:2 (December 1990): 417-457.
Yang Guoqing 楊國慶 and Wang Zhigao 王志高, A Chronology of Nanking City Walls 南京城牆志, Nanjing: Fenghuang Chubanshe, 2008.
Ye Chucang 葉楚傖 and Liu Yezheng 柳詒徵, eds, Gazetteer of the Capital 首都志, Nanjing: Zhengzhong Shuju, 1935.