Tonghua ( _zh. 通化; pinyin: Tōnghuà) is a prefecture-level city in the People's Republic of China province Jilin.

Tonghua is an industrial city in the south of Jilin Province in the People's Republic of China. Jilin Province is one of three (the others being Heilongjiang to the northeast and Liaoning to the southwest) that comprise the region known as Dongbei (the Northeast) - commonly referred to in English as Manchuria.

Confusingly, Tonghua appears twice on most maps of Jilin. The larger symbol marks the space of the city. The smaller marks the place of Tonghua county. The following notes refer to the former.

Traditionally, Tonghua occupied a railhub position in a region of China noted for trade in only three agricultural commodities. These were ginseng, marten furs and deer antler products. In the 1980s Tonghua had some initial success with a wine distillery producing sweet, sticky red wines that proved popular with local consumers. From 1987 onwards a bienniel wine festival was inaugurated, but this and the industry it promoted ultimately failed commercially owing to competition with joint venture wine companies such as Dragon, who were able to produce a product that was marketable overseas. Following this failure, Tonghua industry was thrown back on its traditional agricultural products - and a few small but viable factories, including one specialising in artificial furs.

A fledgling tourist trade sought to highlight Tonghua attractions such as some impressive ski slopes, the tomb of the local hero General Yang (a resister to the Japanese occupation of Manchukuo in the 1930s) and the beautiful Changbai Shan Nature Reserve for which Tonghua serves as a connecting railway station from the major population centres to the north and west.

Tonghua's population hovers around the 300,000 mark, but census information is difficult to assess as it includes demographic information from other towns nearby (for example, Erdaojinag - a suburb of Tonghua, and even Hunjiang a city to the east). The inclusion of these suburbs and surrounding towns greatly swells Tonghua's official population beyond the 300,000-mark.

Poor, backward and, at local level, conservatively led, Tonghua was late in benefiting from the economic reforms (gai ge) of national leaders such as Zhao Ziyang. Although the railway provided useful direct links to major cities such as Shenyang, Tianjin and Changchun, few signs of progress could be seen on Tonghua's dirty streets until the mid-nineties, when plans were approved for a plethora of building projects which transformed the city. These have helped fuel a resurgence in Tonghua's commercial strength.

Tonghua is also the site of Tonghua Teachers' College. The British Development agency and NGO, VSO, have been sending foreign teachers here since 1987.


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