Binzhou is blessed with a long and interesting history as it has witnessed the rise and fall of several dynasties in ancient China. It is one of the origins where the Yellow River and the Qi culture were founded and flourished. The kingdom Pugu was founded in Binzhou during the Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1050 BCE), and since then, many administrative divisions including counties, shires and prefectures have been established. The city “Binzhou” was officially named and established during the Five Dynasties Period (907 to 960), and in Chinese, the meaning of the city’s name takes after the city’s close proximity to the Bohai Sea. With a rich history, Binzhou is the hometown of many influential figures in Chinese history, including Sun Tzu, Fan Zhongyan and Dong Yong. These three great historical figures, along with others, were born in Binzhou or have spent a good amount of their life in Binzhou.
Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War
Sun Tzu (544BC to 496BC) was a Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China. He is the author of The Art of War, an extremely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as the author of The Art of War and as a legendary historical figure. The Art of War has been praised and employed throughout China since its composition. In the twentieth century, The Art of War grew in popularity in Western society and was adapted for practical use by non-Chinese strategists as well. The book continues to grow its influence in many competitive endeavors across the world, including culture, politics, business, sports as well as modern warfare. As one of the greatest strategists the world has ever known, Sun Tzu’s former residence in Binzhou, the Old Graden of Sun Tzu, is a popular tourist attraction. Locals and visitors flock to the residence to have a better understanding of this historical figure and any trip to Shandong would be considered in vain without taking a stroll in the garden to enjoy its scenery and tranquility.
Fan Zhongyan (989 to 1052) was a prominent politician and literary figure in Song dynasty China. He was also a strategist and educator. After serving the central government of the state for many years he finally rose to the seat of Vice chancellor over the whole of the Chinese empire. Fan Zhongyan endured many hardships while grew up in poverty, and in spite of the harsh living conditions, Fan guarded his personal development with great vigilance. Fan was able to carry out and encouraged others to carry out the philosophy of “Be the first to care about the nation’s fate, the last to enjoy its comforts.” After retiring from serving his nation, Fan acquired a large tract of farmland with his own savings and run the land as a charitable farm, providing many jobs for local people. The farming profits were used to provide education for young students from poor families, and to provide care for the elderly. After Fan passed away, his descendants continued the charity deed and kept the charity farm running for generations.
Dong Yong was a figure in one of the most influential Chinese folk tales originated in the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). Dong was a young man from the Dong’s Village in the Guangyao County, which is the Chenhu town in Boxing County of the Shandong province today. The legend of Dong Yong and the seventh fairy is one of the best well-known folklores in China. In the legend, Dong was a dutiful young man who took care of his old father and a farm everyday. When his father passed away, Dong borrowed a lot of money to give his father a decent burial. Dong’s kindness and perseverance have deeply touched the heart of the seventh fairy in Heaven. The seventh fairy then descended from Heaven to earth to help Dong pay off his debt by weaving yards and yards of beautiful silk. This story is much beloved by many Chinese and it was enlisted on the List of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritages.