In the civil administration, Zhanjiang covers Leizhou, Wuchuan, Lianjiang cities, Suixi and Xuwen counties and Chikan, Mazhang, Potou and Xiashan districts and has 714 million population in an area of 13,000 square kilometers.
Zhanjiang is located on Leizhou peninsula, the headland facing Hainan Island. Leizhou was originally called Donghezhou, but its name was changed in the seventh century due to the high incidence of thunderstorms (lei) during the Tang dynasty (618-907). If officials of imperial China had to be demoted, Leizhou, in what was commonly called the "barbaric south," is where many were sent. According to the China Meteorological Administration, 30 people are killed on average every year by lightning in Leizhou, Leizhou peninsula's heartland. Most strikes come in June and July, but lightning can strike at any time.
Xuwen county is the southernmost county in the mainland and is the gateway to Hainan Island from mainland.
Though Mandarin is the official language in China, the local people in southern China prefer speaking the Cantonese dialect.
Zhanjiang is formerly part of Pakhoi (Beihai) diocese. In 1966, Beihai area was placed under Guangxi province, neighboring Guangdong. After the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the local Church gradually revived.
In 1995, Zhanjiang diocese was established by the government-sanctioned open Church authorities. In 1994, Maoming city under Jiangmen diocese was also placed under the administration of Zhanjiang. Zhanjiang cathedral was built in the same year.
Zhanjiang Diocese is one of five dioceses in Guangdong province. It is located mainly on Leizhou Peninsula, about 2,200 kilometers southwest of Beijing and 380 kilometers southwest of Guangzhou.
Zhanjiang Diocese was under Beihai diocese. Before the People's Republic of China was born in 1949, Beihai diocese was made up of Gaozhou, Leizhou, Linzhou and Qinzhou in Guangdong province. However, when the government revised the administrative division in 1965, Linzhou and Qinzhou were merged into Guangxi Zhuangzu Autonomous Region.
In line with the new arrangement, Beihai diocese was also divided. Linzhou and Qinzhou joined Nanning diocese in the neighboring Guangxi region, while Gaozhou and Leizhou became part of Guangzhou diocese. As for as the Vatican is concerned, Beihai was established as an apostolic vicariate in 1924 and became a diocese in 1946, remaining so to this day.
The Vatican Yearbook Annuario Pontificio has no listing of Zhanjiang diocese, but according to Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone's letter to mainland Chinese bishops dated April 22, 2008, Bishop Su has been addressed as papal-approved Bishop of Beihai/Zhanjiang.