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A city in the Shandong province of China, north of Shanghai. China, in the late 1800's, realized the strategic location of the fishing village due to its natural harbor, and established its first North Sea Fleet there. From the Open Door Policy, Germany initiated a war with China for the purpose of taking Qingdao as a concession from China, forcing China to lend Qingdao out on a 99-year lease and pay an indemnity as well. Japan, who was also planning a military takeover of Qingdao, was incensed. Japan declared war on Germany in World War I for the purpose of removing the German presence from Northern China. From this position they began their "Eastern Coprosperity Sphere", the event that launched the Pacific Theatre of World War II.

Germany built several industries that marked Qingdao from then on as a Chinese / Japanese industrial center, for Japan lacks natural resources. This city was a major military port for the Japanese in World War II, Shanghai and Qingdao were the two main landing points for the Japanese invasion and the following annexation of Manchuria. Afterwards, it was a rubber manufacturing center. The city was fianlly returned to the Chinese in 1945.

The German influence is still strong Qingdao, for it brews some of the best beer in Asia, using methods left by the German breweries. Qingdao beer uses mineral water from the nearby mountains. Their beer has a very distinct taste, strong, but not bitter. It is also a fine summer holiday destination, having some great beaches and a good harbor for yachting, water skiing, and other fun stuff. The food is a mix of Southern and Northern Chinese cuisine, and is highly recommended. Tourism is a major industry here, along with textiles (good, cheap clothing).

Rumor has it that Qingdao has more high-quality hookers than Amsterdam, due to the tourists, and from my last visit it is probably true. If you're sick of the hectic urban lifestyle that is Shanghai and Beijing, drop by Qingdao.

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