In 1890, the government of the Qing Dynasty ordered that all the costal areas in China needed to be strictly defended in order to guard against a possible invasion by French forces. Zhang Zhidong, the governor general of both Guangdong and Guangxi came to inspect Haikou in person and decided where the fortification should be built. Cannons were then brought from Germany and the fort established.
The defense's were built on a hill around 200 meters from the coast. The hill was chosen for its excellent vantage point as it overlooks the whole of the Qiongzhou Strait, the primary sea route at the time. There are five cannons all together. Gongbei, Zhengdong, and Dingxi are the three major ones; the Zhengwus are the two smaller ones. These five cannons stand in a line from the east to the west, all pointing to the north, facing the sea.
There was a commanding post to the southeast and a number of training sites and soldiers' camps behind the emplacements. The post covers 30,000 square meters in total and is considered one of the greatest military facilities ever constructed in Hainan and even China.