|Could we likely be seeing the echoes of German occupation of Shandong...|
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The Wikipedia article noticeably avoids including any Japanese occupation history.
In the early 20th century, BoShan was the administrative capital of the area. But BoShan is in the mountains while Zhang Dian is in a flat valley. Zhang Dian is on a main rail corridor, while BoShan was just a spur. So Zhang Dian replaced BoShan as a commercial and administrative center.
ShanDong was a German protectorate in the early 20th century, and in BoShan you can see traces of German influence. Some of the major non-Chinese companies in town are German. Siemens was one of the largest companies in town, but that German company sold their BoShan factory to GardnerDenverNash in 2005. The train station looks like a Bavarian building. And the town still has a few small restaurants who brew their own beer, German style.
Wikipedia on Japan occupation of Shandong:
China's refusal to sign the Treaty of Versailles necessitated a separate peace treaty with Germany in 1921. The Shandong dispute was mediated by the United States in 1922 during the Washington Naval Conference. In a victory for China, the Japanese leasehold on Shandong was returned to China in the Nine-Power Treaty. Japan, however, maintained its economic dominance of the railway and the province as a whole. When its dominance in the province was threatened by the ongoing Northern Expedition to unite China in 1927–1928, Japan launched a series of military interventions, culminating in the Jinan incident conflict with Chinese Nationalist soldiers.