Yangtze River

The 1615 Latin account of the Jesuit missions to China included descriptions of the "Iansu" and "Iansuchian". The posthumous account's translation of the name as "Son of the Ocean" shows that Ricci, who by the end of his life was fluent in literary Chinese, was introduced to it as the homophonic 洋子江 rather than the 'proper' 揚子江. Further, although railroads and the Shanghai concessions subsequently turned it into a backwater, Yangzhou was the lower river's principal port for much of the Qing Dynasty, directing Liangjiang's important salt monopoly and connecting the Yangtze with the Grand Canal to Beijing. (That connection also made it one of the Yellow River's principal ports between the floods of 1344 and the 1850s, during which time the Yellow River ran well south of Shandong and discharged into the ocean only a few hundred kilometres away from the mouth of the Yangtze. ) By 1800, English cartographers such as Aaron Arrowsmith had adopted the French style of the name as Yang-tse or Yang-tse Kiang. The British diplomat Thomas Wade emended this to Yang-tzu Chiang as part of his formerly popular romanization of Chinese, based on the Beijing dialect instead of Nanjing's and first published in 1867. The spellings Yangtze and Yangtze Kiang was a compromise between the two methods adopted at the 1906 Imperial Postal Conference in Shanghai, which established postal romanization. Hanyu Pinyin was adopted by the PRC's First Congress in 1958, but it was not widely employed in English outside mainland China prior to the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC in 1979; since that time, the spelling Yangzi has also been used.

Because the source of the Yangtze was not ascertained until modern times, the Chinese have given different names to lower and upstream sections of the river. [11] [12]

Since the fourth century, when the national capital was moved to Jiankang (present-day Nanjing ) at the start of the Eastern Jin dynasty (AD 317–420), the Yangtze River Delta has been a major cultural, economic, and political centre of China. Hangzhou served as the Chinese capital during the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), and Nanjing was the early capital of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) before the Yongle Emperor moved the capital to Beijing in 1421.

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