History of Shanghai

During the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) Shanghai was upgraded in status from a village to a market town in 1074, and in 1172 a second sea wall was built to stabilise the ocean coastline, supplementing an earlier dike.From the Yuan Dynasty in 1292 until Shanghai officially became a city for the first time in 1297, the area was designated merely as a county (xian) administered by the Songjiang prefecture.

Two important events helped promote Shanghai's development in the Ming Dynasty. A city wall was built for the first time during in 1554, in order to protect the town from raids by Japanese pirates. It measured 10 meters high and 5 kilometers in circumference.During the Wanli reign (1573-1620), Shanghai received an important psychological boost from the erection of a City God Temple in 1602. This honour was usually reserved for places with the status of a city, such as a prefectural capital, and was not normally given to a mere county town like Shanghai. The honour was probably a reflection of the town's economic importance, as opposed to its low political status.

During the Qing Dynasty, Shanghai became one of the most important sea ports in the Yangtze Delta region. This was a result of two important central government policy changes. First of all, Emperor Kangxi (1662-1723) in 1684 reversed the previous Ming Dynasty prohibition on ocean going vessels, a ban that had been in force since 1525. Secondly, in 1732 Emperor Yongzheng moved the customs office (hai guan) for Jiangsu province from the prefectural capital of Songjiang city to Shanghai, and gave Shanghai exclusive control over customs collections for Jiangsu Province's foreign trade. As a result of these two critical decisions, Professor Linda Cooke Johnson has concluded that by 1735 Shanghai had become the major trade port for all of the lower Yangtze River region, despite still being at the lowest administrative level in the political hierarchy.

Nanjing Road in the 1930s.International attention to Shanghai grew in the 19th century due to its economic and trade potential at the Yangtze River. During the First Opium War (1839-1842), British forces temporarily held the city. The war ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing, opened the treaty ports, Shanghai included, for international trade. The Treaty of the Bogue signed in 1843, and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsia signed in 1844 together allowed foreign nations to visit and trade on Chinese soil, the start of the foreign concessions.

In 1854 the Shanghai Municipal Council was created to manage the foreign settlements. In 1860-1862, during a civil war Shanghai had been invaded two times. In 1863, the British settlement, located to the south of Suzhou creek (Huangpu district), and the American settlement, to the north of Suzhou creek (Hongkou district), joined in order to form the International Settlement. The French opted out of the Shanghai Municipal Council, and maintained its own French Concession, located to the south of the International Settlement, which still exists today as a popular attraction. Citisens of many countries and all continents came to Shanghai to live and work during the ensuing decades; those who stayed for long periods-some for generations-called themselves "Shanghailanders".In the 1920s and 1930s, almost 20,000 so-called White Russians and Russian Jews fled the newly established Soviet Union and took up residence in Shanghai. These Shanghai Russians constituted the second-largest foreign community. By 1932, Shanghai had become the world's fifth largest city and home to 70,000 foreigners.In the 1930s, some 30,000 Jewish refugees from Europe arrived in the city.

Shanghai has seen massive development since the mid 1990's.The Sino-Japanese War concluded with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which elevated Japan to become another foreign power in Shanghai. Japan built the first factories in Shanghai, which were soon copied by other foreign powers. Shanghai was then the most important financial centre in the Far East.

Under the Republic of China (1911-1949), Shanghai's political status was finally raised to that of a municipality on July 14, 1927. Although the territory of the foreign concessions was excluded from their control, this new Chinese municipality still covered an area of 828.8 square kilometers, including the modern-day districts of Baoshan, Yangpu, Zhabei, Nanshi, and Pudong. Headed by a Chinese mayor and municipal council, the new city governments first task was to create a new city centre in Jiangwan town of Yangpu district, outside the boundaries of the foreign concessions. This new city centre was planned to include a public museum, library, sports stadium, and city hall.

On 1932 January 28, Japanese forces struck and the Chinese resisted, fighting to a standstill; a ceasefire was brokered in May. The Battle of Shanghai in 1937 resulted in the occupation of the Chinese administered parts of Shanghai outside of the International Settlement and the French Concession. The International Settlement was occupied by the Japanese on 8 December 1941 and remained occupied until Japan's surrender in 1945, not to mention the presence of war crimes during the occupation.

Shanghai in 2009.On 1949 May 27, the Communist People's Liberation Army took control of Shanghai, which was one of only three former Republic of China (ROC) municipalities not merged into neighbouring provinces over the next decade (the others being Beijing and Tianjin). Shanghai underwent a series of changes in the boundaries of its subdivisions, especially in the next decade. After 1949, most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong, as part of an exodus of foreign investment due to the Communist victory.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Shanghai became an industrial centre and centre for radical leftism; the leftist Jiang Qing and her three cohorts, together the Gang of Four, were based in the city. Yet, even during the most tumultuous times of the Cultural Revolution, Shanghai was able to maintain high economic productivity and relative social stability. In most of the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC), in order to funnel wealth to the rural areas, Shanghai has been a comparatively heavy contributor of tax revenue to the central government. This came at the cost of severely crippling Shanghai's infrastructural and capital development. Its importance to the fiscal well-being of the central government also denied it economic liberalisations begun in 1978. Shanghai was finally permitted to initiate economic reforms in 1991, starting the massive development still seen today and the birth of Lujiazui in Pudong.