Ports of China – Part 2: Dalian

They used to say that the state bird of California was the crane, because there was so much building going on, there were building cranes everywhere you looked. The amount of building and development going on in China has certainly been written about, but until you see the scale of it in person, you can’t possibly have a feel for the amazing scope of the development.. Everywhere you look in Dalian there are buildings going up, particularly apartments and condos. Some of the Chinese we spoke with told us they thought there was a property bubble in Dalian because the cost of many of the condos being built exceeds the income of most of the middle class Chinese population.

The Diamond Princess docked immediately opposite the Dalian International Conference Center and Opera House built in 2012 as part of the redevelopment of the waterfront (it’s the futuristic building below).

Downtown Dalian has many beautiful parks and squares. Dalian even has the largest public square in China, bigger than Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Dalian is on the Southeastern tip of Liaodong Peninsula. The Peninsula and port of Dalian are important militarily because whoever controls this peninsula can more easily control naval traffic to the port that serves Beijing.

Because of the strategic importance of the Peninsula, foreign powers, particularly the Russians and the Japanese fought over and at various times in history controlled this peninsula. A little further south on the peninsula is another port known at Lushan or Port Arthur. We took a tour to Lushan where we toured the Russian and Japanese prison. This prison was built initially by the Russian and later run and enlarged by the Japanese during their occupation of the peninsula which lasted until the end of World War II.

In the picture below notice that some of the bricks are black and some are red. The black bricks are that portion of the prison built by the Russians. The red bricks are the Japanese expansion. We took a tour of the prison and as you can imagine it was particularly brutal place. We saw the cells of course, but also the torture room and the handing room. Not the most pleasant destination of the trip so far, but interesting from a historical perspective.

In the prison, the Chinese have recreated the mass graves and the harsh conditions. Below is a recreation that, understandably, does not show the Japanese in best light. I’ll spare the readers of this blog the photos of the torture room and the hanging room.

The monument pictured below was built by the Japanese (note the bullet on top of the monument) on top of the hill overlooking Port Arthur as a display of their power.

There is also a monument to the Soviet Red Army (which occupied the peninsula from the end of WWII until 1955).

Today of course, Lushan (Port Arthur) is a Chinese Naval Base.

Sunset leaving Dalian on our way to Beijing.

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