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Left Fort, Chiwan

This article was originally published on March 4, 2011, in the Shenzhen Daily.
The information was accurate at that time, and may be outdated now. Use with caution.

Entrance to the barracks area; the gun platform is up some stairs inside.
Once again, we find that the "brand-new" city of Shenzhen has much deeper roots than we suspected.

On the way to Chiwan on the 226 bus (which you can now catch at Shekou Sea World stop [海上世界] on the new Shekou Metro Line) there is a stop called Zuo Pao Tai (左炮台), or "Left Fort" (literally "Left Cannon Platform"). If you get off there and walk up the road winding around the nearby hill, you'll find the partially-restored remains of a gun emplacement from the days of the Anglo-Chinese Wars or "Opium Wars" of the 19th century.

What happened essentially was this: British and American merchants were importing opium into China illegally; for both economic and social reasons, the Emperor demanded immediate steps to halt this.

Hero Lin Zexu, restyled an "anti-drug campaigner" in modern times
Imperial commissioner Lin Zexu immediately (if temporarily) quashed the trade and, up the river at Humen, destroyed the opium stocks held by foreign merchants. The British government then sent troops and ultimately effected the first of what came to be known as the "Unequal Treaties." (The former British occupation of Hong Kong was one effect of these treaties.)

The one remaining gun of the original twelve
The Left Fort, then--along with the nearby Right Fort, on the other side of the bay--was a key point of defense when the British troops were sailing up the Pearl River to Guangzhou. Today you can see one of the formerly twelve guns, and a marvelous statue commemorating hero Lin Zexu's role in the affair.

Restored barracks on the left; unrestored barracks covered on the right
Also on site are the remains of some barracks, ancient trees, and a platform with a beautiful view of the surroundings.

This site is also mentioned in my article "A Walk in Chiwan."

GPS Info:
  • 22.46825, 113.89104


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