I am in Tongchuan – I am flying back tomorrow morning.
Tongchuan is a typical city in west China: it is not a capital, and it is not very small – the second (at least from the order of vihecle code – Shaan B) largest city in Shaanxi – just like Luoyang in Henan.
It has too major issues.
A City When Resource is Used Up
Tongchuan developed several decade ago because of the coal storage. The coal fields are the major economic source of the city. A large portion of the city population still speaks Henan accent, because the huge labor needs from the miner factories.
Now, as quick as the raise of the city, the mine of the city is used up. Can you imagine what it means to this city? New coal storage was discovered in north Shaanxi – in Yanan, and Yulin area, and wealth quickly moved northwards, living Tongchuan on its dying-bed.
The Detour of G210
Tongchuan, as the character Chuan suggested, is the only valley to the north of the Shaanxi province. There are mountains after mountains everywhere, but Tongchuan provides a road to access north area. Everyday, hundreds of thousands of cars and bus, and trucks go through the city of Tongchuan, making it the busiest town along the road G210. When I returned to Tongchuan in 1990 for summer, I counted the number of cars on the road before where I lived: it is as busy as the rush hours of Nanpu bridge in Shanghai. The difference is, the road is busy 24 hours a day.
Today, the new expressway were completed, and the road runs on the top of the hills, not the valley. It is exactly the story of Cars. Just like the detour of route-66 made the small town abandoned, the city of Tongchuan faces the same fate. Yes. No one still needs to visit Tongchuan. People in Yan’an can drive 2-3 hours on the expressway to get to Xi’an, without being aware that they have passed Tongchuan.
The Fate of Many Cities in China
With the raise of many cities, like Shanghai or Yan’an in Shaanxi, or Shangqiu in Henan, many Chinese cities like Tongchuan and Luoyang lost their position. I have unique feeling to these two cities, and feel it is a pity that they have to go to the direction they are heading today.