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Thread: Guangxi

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    Guangxi is an autonomous region of southern China along its border with Vietnam. Formerly a province, Guangxi became an autonomous region in 1958.
    Guangxi's location, in mountainous terrain in the far south of China, has placed it on the frontier of Chinese civilization throughout much of China's history.


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    Originally inhabited by a mixture of tribal groups known to the Chinese as the Hundred Yue (Baiyue), the region first became part of China during the Qin Dynasty. In 214 BC, the Han general Zhao Tuo (Vietnamese: Triệu Đà) claimed most of southern China for Qin Shihuang before the emperor's death and the ensuing civil war permitted Zhao to establish a separate kingdom at Panyu known as Southern Yue (Nanyue). Alternatively submissive to and independent of Han control, Southern Yue expanded colonization and sinicization under its policy of "Harmonizing and Gathering the Hundred Yue" (和集百越) until its collapse in 111 BC during the southward expansion of the Han. The name "Guangxi" can be traced to the "Expansive" or "Wide" province (廣州) of the Eastern Wu, who controlled southeastern China during the Three Kingdoms period. Guilin formed one of its commanderies. Under the Tang, the Zhuang moved to support Piluoge's kingdom of Southern Zhao (Nanzhao) in Yunnan which successfully repulsed imperial armies in 751 and 754. Guangxi was then divided into an area of Zhuang ascendancy west of Nanning and an area of Han ascendancy east of Nanning. After the collapse of the Southern Zhao, Liu Yan established the Southern Han (Nanhan) in Xingwangfu (modern Guangdong). Although this state gained minimal control over Guangxi, it was plagued by instability and annexed by the Song Dynasty in 971. The name "Guangxi" itself can be traced to the Song, who administered the area as the Guangnanxi ("West Southern Expanse") Circuit. Harassed by both Song and the Jiaozhi in modern Vietnam, the Zhuang leader Nong Zhigao led a revolt in 1052 for which he is still remembered by the Zhuang people. His independent kingdom was short-lived, however, and the tattooed Song general Di Qing returned Guangxi to China. The Yuan Dynasty established control over Yunnan during its conquest of Dali in 1253 and eliminated the Southern Song following the Battle of Yamen in 1279. Rather than ruling Lingnan as a subject territory or military district, the Mongolians then established Guangxi ("Western Expanse") as a proper province. The area nonetheless continued to be unruly, leading the Ming Dynasty to employ the different local groups against one another. At the Battle of Big Rattan Gorge between the Zhuang and the Yao in 1465, 20,000 deaths were reported. The Qing Dynasty left the region alone until the imposition of direct rule in 1726, but the 19th century was one of constant unrest. A Yao revolt in 1831 was followed by the Taiping Rebellion in 1850 and the Jintian Uprising on 11 January 1851. The execution of St. Auguste Chapdelaine by local officials in Guangxi provoked the Second Opium War in 1858 and the legalization of foreign interference in the interior. Although Brière de l'Isle was unable to invade its depot at Longzhou, the Guangxi Army saw a great deal of action in the 1884 Franco-Chinese War. Largely ineffective within Vietnam, it was still able to repulse the French from China itself at the Battle of Zhennan Pass (modern Youyi Pass) on 23 March 1885. Following the Wuchang Uprising, Guangxi seceded from the Qing Empire on 6 November 1911. The Qing governor, Shen Bingdan, initially remained in place, but was subsequently removed by a mutiny commanded by General Lu Rongting. General Lu's Guangxi Clique overran Hunan and Guangdong as well and helped lead the resistance to Yuan Shikai's attempt to reestablish an imperial government. Zhuang loyalty made his Self-Government Army cohesive but reluctant to move far beyond its own provinces. Subsequent feuding with Sun Yat-sen led to defeat in the 1920 and 1921 Yue-Gui Wars. After a brief occupation by Chen Jiongming's Cantonese forces, Guangxi fell into disunity and profound banditry for several years until Li Zongren's Guangxi Pacification Army established the New Guangxi Clique dominated by Li, Huang Shaohong, and Bai Chongxi. Successful action in Hunan against Wu Peifu led to the Zhuang GPA becoming known as the "Flying Army" and the "Army of Steel." After the death of Sun Yat-sen, Li also repulsed Tang Jiyao's revolt and joined the Northern Expedition establishing Republican control over other warlords. His was one of the few Nationalist units free from serious Communist influence and was therefore employed by Chiang Kai-shek for the Shanghai Massacre of 1927. Within Communist China, Guangxi is also noted for the Baise Uprising, a failed Communist revolt led by Chen Zhaoli and Deng Xiaoping in 1929. After his own falling out with Chiang, Li joined Yan Xishan's revolt in the Central Plains War. His defeat did not remove him from control of Guangxi and the Mukden Incident and Japanese invasion kept Chiang and the Communists from removing his influence until 1949. The 1944 Operation Ichi-Go successfully expanded Japanese control along the rail lines through Guangxi into French Indochina, although the line remained harassed by American bombers and Zhuang guerrillas under Bai Chongxi. Being in the far south, Guangxi did not fall during the Chinese Civil War, but joined the People's Republic in December 1949, two months after its founding. In 1958, Guangxi was converted into an autonomous region for the Zhuang at the recommendation of Premier Zhou Enlai. This decision was made because the Zhuang were the biggest minority group in China and were mostly concentrated in the province. For most of its history, Guangxi was landlocked. In 1952, a small section of Guangdong's coastline was given to Guangxi, giving it access to the sea. This was reversed in 1955, then restored in 1965. While some development of heavy industry occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, the province remained largely a scenic tourist destination. Even the economic growth of the 1990s seemed to leave Guangxi behind. However, in recent years, there has been a growing amount of industrialization and increasing concentration on cash crops. Per capita GDP has begun rising more rapidly, as industries in Guangdong seek a way to locate production to lower-wage areas.

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