“Old Fisherman” Memory: Understanding China from the Great Changes of the Ancient Ferry
“The previous Wu Tong were very backward, the economy was not developed, the roads were bumpy, the water was salty, and no girl was willing to marry here.”Standing at the Xiamen Huli SDIC Tongshunda Tourist Wharf (hereinafter referred to as: Tongshunda Wharf), looking at the beautiful bay in front of him, the thoughts of 63-year-old “old fisherman” Zhang Shunzai drifted into the distance with little white sails.
If it wasn’t for his personal experience, it would be hard for him to imagine that the vast coast and broken seawalls in his childhood memories would turn into a modern port and become the most important and most convenient and efficient sea passage for cross-strait exchanges, surrounded by high-rise buildings. become a prosperous city.
Tongshunda Wharf is located in the northeast corner of Xiamen Island, adjacent to Wutong Ferry Terminal, belonging to Wutong Area, Huli District, Xiamen City. According to the local chronicles of Xiamen, as early as the Song Dynasty, there was an ancient ferry in Wutong, which was a key point for Xiamen to go from the island to the mainland.
Wutong village was built at the same time as Xiamen City during the Hongwu period of Ming Dynasty. At that time, smoke mounds and watchtowers were built, and troops were stationed for defense.Since the Qing Dynasty, this ferry has replaced the eastern ferry and has become the official ferry.At that time, the route of the ship was from Wutong to Liuwudian in Tongan, from Gaoqi to Jimei, and then to Zhangzhou and Quanzhou through the post road.
According to research, the name of Wutong comes from the Wutong god worshipped in the local small temple, and in Zhang Shun’s mouth among these old fishermen, “Wutong” has another meaning. “The reason why it is called Wutong is because this place connects five places, namely Liuwudian, Dadeng, Aotou, Lianhe and Kinmen.”
In the late 1950s, Zhang Shun was born in the family of a fisherman in the Wutong area. It is said that “relying on the sea to eat the sea”, but at that time, China was in short supply of materials. In Zhang Shun’s youth, starvation was the norm. When he grew up, in order to make a daily living, Zhang Shun began to follow his elders and sailed from the fishing port around the ferry to the sea, frequently going back and forth between land and sea.
“At that time, it was a week when I went out to fish. I ate and slept on the boat, and there were often bad weather.” Zhang Shunzai said that in those days, fishing at sea had to be done by hand, relying on manpower to reach the fishing area. In order to catch the yellow croaker, he often goes out to sea for half a month.
In the spring of 1979, ‘’an old man drew a circle on the South China Sea.’’ The spring breeze of reform began to blow across the land of China, and the construction of the Xiamen Special Economic Zone was officially opened in 1981.
Zhang Shunzai, who has been drifting at sea, has found a new way out in the development of the special zone. Relying on the accumulation of fishing, Zhang Shun bought a walk-behind tractor to transport stones and participated in the construction of Xiamen Gaoqi Airport. With a certain amount of capital accumulation, he bought three more concrete mixers and turned his head into the construction industry.
Opportunity always favors the prepared. In the early stage of the construction of the special zone, there was only one Xiamen seawall to enter and exit Xiamen Island, which could not meet the travel needs. After some research, Zhang Shun decided to start building a wharf in the Wutong area where he grew up since he was a child. Soon, with the support of the government, two high and low trough piers built of stones appeared in the Wutong area. The opening of this route has saved a lot of time for Tong’an and surrounding people entering and leaving Xiamen Island.
In 1991, with the completion and opening of the Xiamen Bridge, the flow of people on the route gradually decreased. At that time, the cross-strait exchanges were gradually thawed, and Zhang Shun was keen to seize business opportunities: the special geographical location of Wutong and Kinmen across the sea, the development of tourism is promising. So he invested in the marine passenger transportation industry and established Xiamen Tongshun Marine Transportation Co., Ltd. and other enterprises: the former fishing boats became sailboats, passenger ships became yachts, and the route of “seeing Kinmen at sea” came into being.
In fact, in the new century and new era, with the continuous investment and construction of Xiamen City and Huli District Government, the surrounding area of Wutong Area with Wutong Ferry Terminal as the core has been continuously improved, and tourists have come in droves. The Wutong Ferry Terminal, which is only 9.7 nautical miles away from the Kinmen Wharf, has also set up the most convenient passage for the “Xiamen and Gold Small Three Links” by virtue of the 30-minute voyage.
The transformation of the tourism industry and the in-depth integration of cultural tourism on both sides of the strait are in line with the development direction of Xiamen City, and Zhang Shunzai has gained substantial benefits. Watching the tourists returning happily on the pier, Zhang Shunzai often sighed with emotion: “We have encountered a good era.”
The Hokkien people often say: Three points are destined, seven points depend on hard work. With its superior geographical location and decades of uninterrupted development, Wutong District has also grown into a place favored by investors. Today, it is dotted with shopping malls, residences, and business centers, with high-rise buildings and flashing neon lights. In the future, a series of high-quality facilities such as a cross-strait regional financial center area and financial talent apartments will also be built here, and the surrounding people will also gain a full sense of gain and happiness in the continuous improvement of the city.
From fishermen to ferrymen who pick up and drop off residents, to today’s marine tourism experts, it all seems like a lifetime. In Zhang Shun’s view, the changes of himself and Wutong are just a microcosm of China’s development and changes. All the development achievements China has achieved come from the continuous efforts and unremitting efforts of every Chinese people; from the governments at all levels led by the Communist Party of China to better satisfy the Chinese people’s yearning for a better life.
Today, China is the second largest economy in the world. It has withstood the test of the global epidemic, achieved a comprehensive victory on the battlefield of poverty alleviation as scheduled, and drew a historic end to the problem of absolute poverty that has plagued the Chinese nation for thousands of years.
2022 is the year when the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held. Looking back on the past and looking forward to the future, Zhang Shun believes that in his lifetime, he will surely witness the “Chinese Dream” of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.