Diocese of Qiqihar
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In a land area of approximately 213,000 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the prefecture-level cities of Qiqihar, Daqing, Heihe and Suihua cities and Daxinganling Prefecture in the western part of Heilongjiang province.

Population

The total population of Qiqihar is 5.61 million, including the urban population of 1.44 million, covering 35 nationalities of Han, Mongolian, Man, Huis, Korean, Elunchun, Ewenke and Dawur, etc.

The populations of Daqing and Heihe, Suihua and Daxinganling are 2.77 million and 1.73 million, 5.80 million and 520,000 respectively.

Language

Mandarian Chinese and northeastern dialect are in use in the diocesan territory.

History

The Mission "sui iuris" (or independent mission) of Qiqihar was erected in 1928 and it became an Apostolic Prefecture in 1931. It was entrusted to Swiss missionaries.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, all foreign missioners were expelled from the mainland. Religious activities were disrupted for three decades due to political turmoil since 1950s.

Qiqihar diocese's "underground" community has existed since 1980s. It has no affiliation with the government-sanctioned open Church structure, which merged all dioceses in Heilongjiang province into one and ordained a bishop without papal mandate in 1959. The first Chinese bishop of Qiqihar was Paul Guo Wenzhi. The priest returned to the diocese in 1985 after more than two decades of imprisonment and reform-through-labor. He was secretly ordained bishop in 1989 at the age of 71. After attending the inaugural meeting of the underground bishops' conference in November 1989, Bishop Guo was detained by the government until January 1990.

He ordained the first priest in 1982, established a major seminary and restored the Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of Lisieux in his diocese in the next year. He clandestinely ordained Father Joseph Wei Jingyi as his coadjutor bishop in 1995 and retired in 2000 at the age of 82. He died on June 29, 2006 and was buried hurriedly after a simple funeral.

Transportation

Qiqihar has a domestic airport (Qiqihar Airport), a railway station, a bus network, and taxis. In the district of Ang'angxi, the Harbin-Manzhouli Railway intersects with the Qiqihar-Bei'an Railway.

Climate

Qiqihar has a cold, monsoon-influenced, humid continental climate, with four distinct seasons. It has long, bitterly cold, but dry winters, with a daily average in January of 18.6 degree Celsius. Spring and fall are mild, but short and quick transitions. Summers are very warm and humid, with a daily average in July of 23.2 degree Celsius. The average annual precipitation is 415 mm, with over two-third of it falling from June to August.

Economy

After 50 years of development, particularly since the country's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, Qiqihar has become a strong industrial base of machinery, metallurgy, petroleum chemical, textile, food, paper making, building materials, pharmaceutical and power industry.

With more than 3.5 million agricultural populations, Qiqihar is a large commercial grain production base and an animal husbandry base, targeting at becoming the "Capital of Green Foods." The hinterland of Songnen Plain is fertile with expanse field and plain, clear river and green water, four colorful seasons, high quality of air, water and soil, favorable ecological environment and abundant agricultural resources. It's an ideal place for green food production.

Topography

With a total area of 42,500 square kilometers, Qiqihar is the second largest city in Heilongjiang province and the 13th largest in China (based on total population). It is located in the northeastern Songnen Plain of China. It is adjacent to Daqing City and Suihua Area in the East, it joints with Baicheng Area of Jilin Province in the South, it connects with Hulunbeir League of Inner Mongolia in the West and it borders on Heihe and Greater Xing'an Mountains in the North.

Culture

Qiqihar is a civilized ancient city with more than 300 years of history, which was first built in the 38th year of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty (1699). Qiqihar is a Dawur word, which means "border or natural pasture." It had been the provincial capital of Heilongjiang for as long as 285 years.

It is also known as Crane City, as its Zhalong National Natural Reserve, located at the lower reaches of Wuyur River of Songnen Plain, is the habitat of the world rare bird red-crowned cranes. The other 12 natural reserves in the city are cradles of more than 20 wild animals and more than 300 wild plants.

Cultural relics and scenic spots in Qiqihar include Longsha Park, Mahayana Temple, Bukui Mosque, Temple of Guan Yu, Mount Shibei, Ang'angxi Ancient Cultural Relics and Tazi Ancient City.

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