Baoxing County (simplified Chinese: 宝兴县; traditional Chinese: 寶興縣; pinyin: Bǎoxīng Xiàn) is one of the seven counties under the administration of Ya'an City, in west-central Sichuan Province, China, located along the upper reaches of the Qingyi River (Chinese: 青衣江; pinyin: Qīngyī Jiāng). It is a vital geopolitical crossroad, transportation hub, and most importantly, a biodiversity hotspot and type locality for many endangered species, including giant panda, dove tree, Chinese thrush, golden snub-nosed monkey and Oreolalax popei. UNESCO named Baoxing as a part of the World Heritage Site, the "Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountain" in 2006.
The history of Baoxing spans over four thousand years, though under several different names. During the Spring and Autumn period of China, it was part of the territories of the Qiang State of Qingyi founded by the Qiang people, who were native of the area. In the Qin and Han dynasties, when Han people started to immigrate to this region, Baoxing was named "County of Qingyi" affiliated to the Prefecture of Shu. By the end of the Yuan dynasty, when it was called "Dongbu", Tibetan Buddhist influence emerged in this area; many Qiang people converted to the faith and since then were perceived as a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name changed again in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty, then went "Muping" as the name for the same region. The county of Baoxing was not established as a political division until 1930, and because of the rich natural resources it maintains, the name "Baoxing" was officially given. This name, meaning "treasure and prosperity", originates from one of the five Confucius classics Doctrine of the Mean. In 1939, Xikang Province was established, and Baoxing was a county under its administration.
Baoxing was in Xikang Province until 1955, when Xikang was merged with and became a part of Sichuan Province. Though Baoxing's significance as the biggest county of the provincial capital of Xikang Province, Ya'an City, was dimmed by this merger, its weight as the type locality and ideal resort for giant pandas has not been devalued. From 1957 to 1982, more than 15 giant pandas were chosen from Baoxing's Fengtongzhai National Natural Protected Area, and sent overseas to various nations such as the United States, Spain, France, Mexico and Japan, as gifts from China.
Baoxing is located in the north of Ya'an City and the west of Sichuan province, and has an area of 3,114 km2 (1,202 sq mi). Its area consists of primarily mountainous terrain that is part of the Qionglai Mountains, with many lesser hills, ravines, slopes, valleys and rivers. Elevations rising from southeast to northwest, and the highest point is Mount Shilama (石喇嘛山) at 5,328 m (17,480 ft), while the lowest is Lingguan Gap at 750 m (2,460 ft); the county seat Muping Town lies at 1,011 m (3,317 ft). The varied terrain in Baoxing gives rise to wide variations in climate, though the climate is generally temperate and displays strong monsoonal influences. The annual precipitation is 993.7 mm (39.12 in).
Baoxing River, which springs from the south ridge of the Jiajin Mountains (夹金山), is the major water source of the Qingyi River system. Baoxing River traverses the county, as well as many lesser rivers and streams. It has been estimated that these rivers has an electricity generating capacity of more than 140 million kilowatts.
Located at the western part of the historical region of Kham, which is often recognized as the Ethic and Religion Corridor of Southwest China, Baoxing merges a number of culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups and subgroups. To name a few, Han, Qiang, Tibetan, Nakhi, and Jiarong Tibetan. This well-mingled hybrid of population was proved to be of considerable influence on Baoxing's geopolitical and transportation significance throughout history.
Baoxing's geographical location determines its identity as a transportation hub between Kham and the Sichuan Basin. Bordering two big counties (namely, Dayi and Tianquan) to its east and south, where Han people is the majority ethnicity, Baoxing connects Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture at Xiaojin County and Danba County, whose populations are largely Tibetan and Qiang people. The active tradings among different ethnicity groups in this region could be traced back to more than 800 years ago, when the first Tea Horse Road started to take shape.
The complexity in Baoxing's demography and importance in its transportation value, plus its critical location, has made Baoxing a vital site for different military, commercial and political powers. The Tea and Horse road between Sichuan and Tibet, since its start in the Tang dynasty, put Baoxing and Kangding as two major stop-over sites and mid-way markets for commuting merchants, salt-carriers, Han tea sellers(most of them from Sichuan), Tibetan horse traders etc.
Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity (predominately Catholic) and ingenious religions including Nature Worship and Urreligion are the most commonly seen religions and practices in ethnic groups of Baoxing. Branches in Tibetan Buddhism are also well represented.
Baoxing is named by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage in 2006, during the World Heritage Convention in Lithuania. Jiajin Mountains, which is located in Baoxing County, is the core area of the World Heritage site "Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary", along with Wolong and Mount Siguniang. While Baoxing is only one part of the core areas in the World Heritage, it distinguishes itself from all other giant panda reserves, for Baoxing has a greater prestige in its own right: in Baoxing was giant panda first discovered and reported, by the French missionary Armand David in Dengchigou of Baoxing County in the Jiajin Mountains, in 1869.
Baoxing is renowned as the type locality to many species, to name a few of the most famous ones, are the giant panda, dove tree, and golden snub-nosed monkey.
The UNESCO named the World Heritage Site of Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary – Wolong, Mt. Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains in 2006 after it was nominated in 2002. After being officially recognized as an integral part of the World Heritage site, Baoxing needs to conform with the rules and standards set by UNESCO to maintain its status as a World Heritage.Giant panda
Golden snub-nosed monkey