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Tianjin is one of the four municipalities administered directly by the central government of China (the others being Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing). Situated in the wastern part of the North China Plain, 120 kilometers southeast of Beijing, Tianjin faces Bohai Bay to the wast and is the gateway to Beijing. It was established as a garrison town in the early years of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1403-1424). The Yellow River (Huanghe), whose course has been diverted three times in history, used to flow into the sea at Tianjin, creating what is now the Haihe delta.

With an area of more than 110,000 square kilometers and a population of 7.7 million, Tianjin is a major modern industrial city. Its maritime and chemical industries are of great importance to the country, and it is one of the main textile centers in China. Tianjin carpets are world-famous and a major export commodity.

Xingang in Tianjin is the largest artificial harbour in China, capable of berthing ten thousand-ton oceangoing ships. Its shipping lines run to Dalian, Yantai, Qingdao, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Zhanjiang and maintain trade ties with more than ninety countries and regions the world over.

The city used to face an acute shortage of water for drinking and industrial use. To solve this problem, the Luanhe River diversion protect, the biggest municipal water supply protect ever undertaken in China, was begun in the summer of 1982. The entire supply line is 234 kilometers long, passing through the Luanhe and Haihe valleys and running across the Yanshan mountain range. It took a little over a year to put the line into operation.