In 1937, the Japanese launched the full-scale invasion of China. The situation was critical, and many academic research institutions and universities were forced to relocate away from the frontline. On the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in Sichuan Province is an old town, called Lizhuang. During the war, Lizhuang became one of China's four major centres of culture ¨C the other three being the much larger cities of Chongqing, Kunming and Chengdu. Among the cultural and educational institutions that Lizhuang played host to, was Tongji University. Today, we start a series of programmes, in which we find out why Lizhuang became such an important centre of culture, and what happened there during the war.
Obtaining approval for the institutions to take up residence in Lizhuang was one thing; actually settling them there was quite another. In those days, Lizhuang was a small place of less than one square kilometre and a mere 3,000 residents. The arrival of the staff and students of Tongji University and other institutions would more than double the town's population. Serious doubts were expressed over whether so many people could actually be accommodated.
And so, all the 'people from the lower parts of the Yangtze' were settled, and life went on. But how would all the newcomers ¨C the university teachers and students and the researchers from the institutes ¨C fit in? Would they have problems with the locals, or might they in fact be good for the town? We'll find out in our next edition, when we bring you more stories from war-time Lizhuang.