Changchun 1957, building on Japanese and Russian foundations

The first automotive plant in the biggest country by population in the world. Now the biggest automotive market in the world. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

You don’t often see smokestacks on a stamp. Today a developing country would probably just show the factory gate. The complex shown with its large size and wide boulevard gives a real sense to its importance to China. A truck factory was a big deal. the first domestic truck factory is a really big deal. Imagine a poor country where all the motorized transportation has to be imported. Inevitably this means there will be to few of them and the trucks will cost far more than they should, both to acquire and maintain.

Todays stamp is issue A73, a 4 Juan stamp issued by the Peoples Republic of China on May Day 1957. It displays the first automotive works that opened the year before. It was a two stamp issue. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth $2.75 mint.

Changchun has been an important center for industry since the 19th century. Located in Manchuria, it was the recipient of Russian and Japanese ambition. In 1898 the train came to Changchun as a result of Russian construction building off their railroad network. It was for a while the end of the line as Japan fought a war with Russia in 1905 and for a short period their systems did not connect. The Japanese eventually set up a puppet state in Manchuria under old Emperor Puyi with it’s capital in Changchun. The Japanese put much effort into making Changchun a showcase city for the Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere. They lavished much money on architecture and infrastructure. The population skyrocketed and in 1944 contained over 140,000 Japanese workers and 5 times that many Chinese. Some of that carried over  when the Chinese regained control of the city in the late 40s. Even today most Chinese bullet trains come from Changchun.

The Russians accepted the Japanese surrender in Manchuria in 1945 and played a further role in the future of the Chinese city. When the plant on the stamp opened in 1956, the first product was a Russian truck, the Zis-150. The Chinese rechristened the truck the FAW Jia Fang C-10. It was the most common Soviet truck of the 50s and the Chinese made it until 1986. In 1958, the factory expanded its offerings to include the Hong Qi,(Red Flag), a long running series of limousines and large sedans for high officials.

The first factory is still around. The third largest domestic automaker FAW is still based in Changchun. FAW stands for First Auto Works. It is known today for its license production of Audi sedans and its own line of economy cars and commercial vehicles. As of yet, they have been unable to re-launch  the Red Flag series of limousines.

Well my drink is empty and so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.