Port of Shanghai
Review and History

The Port of Shanghai is China's most populous city, the world's second busiest seaport, and one of the world's largest cities by area. Located on the mouth of the Yangtze River in east central China off the East China Sea, the Port of Shanghai is a municipality with province status in the People's Republic of China. The Port of Shanghai is about 421 kilometers southeast of the Port of Lianyungang and about 430 nautical miles north of the Port of Taipei in Taiwan. The Port of Shanghai is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In 2002, over 16.2 million people lived in the Port of Shanghai municipality.

Lujiazui Skyline

Lujiazui Skyline

Photo by Zhang Zhang

The Port of Shanghai is China's leading commercial and financial center, and it has been called the world's fastest-growing economy. The Port of Shanghai rivals Hong Kong as the economic heart of the Chinese mainland, but Shanghai has stronger ties to the mainland and to the central government. The Port of Shanghai also has a more solid base in the manufacturing and technology sectors. Experiencing a building boom, Shanghai's architectural style is unique and recognizable in its range of height, design, color, and unusual features.

Port History

From the 5th to 7th Centuries AD, the area of today's Port of Shanghai was known as Shen or Hudu. It had few residents and was not developed. In 1074 during the Song Dynasty, Shanghai was upgraded from village to market town status. However, its position on the Yangtze River delta slowed down its growth. A second sea wall was added in 1172 to stabilize the coastline. Under the Yuan Dynasty, the Port of Shanghai became an official city in 1297.

Tomb of Paul Xu Guangqi

Tomb of Paul Xu Guangqi

Paul Xu Guangqi was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty.
Photo by Clestur

The Port of Shanghai began to develop during the Ming Dynasty. A city wall was constructed in 1554 to protect the town from Japanese pirates, and the City God Temple was built in 1602. Recognizing the town's economic importance, these two events did much to promote development.

By 1735, the Port of Shanghai became the Yangtze region's most important seaport due to two significant factors. During the Qing Dynasty in 1684, the port was allowed to accept ocean-going vessels, and Shanghai gained exclusive control over customs collections for all foreign trade in Jiangsu Province.

In the 19th Century, the Port of Shanghai's importance grew tremendously. It occupied a valuable strategic position for trade with the West. The British held the Port of Shanghai briefly during the First Opium War. When the war ended with the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, the Port of Shanghai became one of the treaty ports open for international trade. Further agreements, the Treaty of the Bogue (1843) and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsai (1844), exempted foreign powers from local laws and began the era of foreign concessions.

Opening of the first railway in China<br>from Shanghai to Woosung Port, 1876

Opening of the first railway in China
from Shanghai to Woosung Port, 1876

Illustrated London News, 2 September 1876
Photo by Illustrated London News

The British and American settlements joined in 1863 to form the International Settlement in the Port of Shanghai, while the French maintained their own separate French Concession. The Port of Shanghai became a magnet for foreigners who stayed there for years, sometimes for generations, calling themselves Shanghailanders. The Port of Shanghai became an official municipality in 1927 under the Republic of China, but the foreign communities were still exempted from Chinese control.

White Russians and Russian Jews fleeing the new Soviet Union came to the Port of Shanghai by the thousands in the 1920s and 1930s. The "Shanghai Russians" grew to be the second-largest foreign group. By 1932, the Port of Shanghai was the world's fifth biggest city and had a foreign population of 70 thousand.

The Second Sino-Japanese War, lasting from 1937 until 1945, made the Japanese community an important group in the Port of Shanghai. They built the first factories in the Port of Shanghai which other foreigners soon copied, starting Shanghai's industrial sector.

In early 1932, the Japanese bombed the Port of Shanghai, ostensibly in response to student protects of the occupation of northeast China. In 1937, the Battle of Shanghai ended in Japan's occupation of the non-foreign areas of Shanghai, and the Japanese occupied the International Settlement in 1941, holding it until 1945. In 1949, the People's Liberation Army, controlled by China's Communist Party, took control of the Port of Shanghai, and most foreign interests moved to Hong Kong.

Pudong, Shanghai

Pudong, Shanghai

Photo by Brian Kell

During the middle 20th Century, the Port of Shanghai grew into a busy industrial center and a strong supporter of the people's revolution. Even through the difficult years of the Cultural Revolution, the Port of Shanghai continued to be economically productive and socially stable. Throughout most of the People's Republic (Chinese) history, the Port of Shanghai has been the most significant contributor of tax revenues in China.

The Port of Shanghai's contributions to the economy of the nation came at a high price for the city. The Port of Shanghai infrastructure deteriorated, and further development was severely limited. Because the Port of Shanghai was so important to China's economy, it was not afforded many of the economic liberalizations that other areas received in the middle 1980s. Finally, in 1991, the Port of Shanghai was given permission to implement economic reforms. This began today's era of economic and building booms.

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