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Diocese of Chengde
Diocese of Chengde

The diocese of Chengde was formed, conjoining parts of the diocesan territories of Jehol (Jinzhou) and Chifeng. It was the first Roman Catholic diocese since the year 1949, in China, and was the first diocese to be erected after September 22, 2018, the date on which the China-Vatican agreement took place. It was marked as the first-ever change to the Catholic hierarchy in China ever since 1951. The diocesan boundaries are the same as that of Chengde city in Hebei province.

History

The Mountain Resort in Chengde was chosen as the summer residence of the Kangxi Emperor, in the year 1703. The Resort, which was in use by the Yongzheng and Qianlong emperors, was built during the 18th century and is presently a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chengde later became the political centre of the Chinese empire.

The city, which is home to ethnic minorities like Mongol and Manchu, became a full-fledged city under the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796). Located near the Mountain Resort is the Putuo Zongcheng Temple, modelled after the then winter palace of the Dalai Lamas—the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The Temple which was completed in the year 1771, after four-year-long construction, combines Tibetan and Chinese architectural styles. Heavily adorned with gold, it was dedicated to the Qianlong Emperor, to mark his birthday. The Emperor was worshipped in the Golden Pavilion of the temple.

Chengde remained the capital of Rehe province up until 1955 when Rehe was abolished and the city came to be a part of the Hebei province. During 1933-1945, Chengde was part of Manchukuo, a puppet state of the Empire of Japan, until Kuomintang regained jurisdiction post World War II. The city was under the People's Liberation Army from the year 1948.

Climate

Chengde has varying climatic conditions, with moderately long winters, and hot, humid summers. Temperatures are much lower, in comparison to Beijing, as Chengde has an elevation of 325m. Monthly average temperature ranges from 9.1°C – 24.5°C, from January through June, with annual mean temperature recorded at 9.11°C. The three summer months witness two-thirds of the precipitation, which averages at 512mm. The average monthly sunshine ranges from 50%-69%, from July through October, with annual average sunshine hours recorded at 2,746.

Geography

Located towards the north-eastern part of the Hebei Province, Chengde borders Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Beijing, and Tianjin. It also has the prefecture-level provincial cities of Qinhuangdao, Tangshan, and Zhangjiakou, as its neighbours. Chengde has an area of 39,702.4 sq. kilometres, occupying almost 21.2% of the provincial area of Hebei. With mountainous terrains and lower population density, it is the largest prefecture in the Hebei Province. The former name of Chengde—Jehol or Rehe, meant “Hot River”, as Re River, (a small tributary of the Luan River) never freezes in winter.

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