Shanghai

Shanghai is located at 31 degrees 10 ‘North by 121 degrees 28’ East

Around Shanghai there is evidence of neolithic discoveries being over 5,900 years old with the earliest Imperial records dating from the Warring States Period. Shanghai began to develop from a swampy bog in the seventh century known as Shen or Hu Tu, for local bamboo fishing traps, (with the Hu character still found on license plates today) being nothing more than an over-sized fishing village. In 1127 (Song Dynasty), refugees from the recently conquered city of Kaifeng began to swell it to over a quarter million. In the 1200’s the area around Shanghai began to prosper due to the raising of cotton and its conversion into textiles and the county seat was relocated from Qianlong, Jiangsu to Shanghai.

Wikipedia Information for Shanghai

During the Ming Dynasty the entire Chinese coastline was abandoned some twenty five kilometers inland from the threat of Japanese pirates known as Wokou with a city wall added in 1554 to repel any future attempted invasions. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty the wall was demolished in1912 and Shanghai became a prosperous city with little government authority. In the seventeenth century a series of canals were dug to drain its region as the Shanghai River silted up and the first Custom's House was erected in 1865. When the British arrived and first rebuffed, they were peeved to watch three million pounds of raw opium flushed out to sea and that purchases of Chinese commodities outweighed China's buying of English goods to bring with it China’s First Opium War. This foreign mud (yapian, opium) quickly became its primary import of thirty thousand chests annually into the country and drain of Chinese silver, dubbing it as the  "Whore of the Orient" and the "Paris of the East" at this time, and over half of the British troops stationed there to suffer from venereal disease.  As the Industrial Revolution progressed, Shanghai’s cotton production suffered due to the U.S.A.’s more efficient methods of fabrication though it is Shanghai's chief export in the 1860's. With more westerners arriving, this influence converted Shanghai from its agrarian roots to a bustling metropolis. As the Taiping Rebellion spread around the countryside in the 1850’s, Shanghai was flooded with more refugees and the foreign settlements were forced to grant them concession’s for these recent arrivals that were highly profitable. A council was formed to exert control over these settlements, but each nation’s area of occupation was essentially its own island.

Being located near the mouth of the Yangtze River’s juncture with the sea, Shanghai’s wealth from trade was distributed throughout the world with forty four foreign ships having regular scheduled ports of call by 1844 and swelled to four hundred and thirty seven by 1855. Large numbers of missionaries began to arrive in the 1880's with Chinese agitation and movements against foreign occupation began to rise with a group known first as Taipings in the 1851 and later the Boxers sanctioned by Dowager Cixi who also wanted to drive these foreigners out. The Jesuit's were the first in the 17th century with its Siccawei seminary known today as Xijiahui with all denominations being represented by the close of the nineteenth century. The sedan chair and wheelbarrow were replaced with the Japanese rickshaw around 1874.  Local networks known as “Guilds” began to exert control through its banking connections and then replaced by a Shanghai municipal government in 1905. Later, China was forced to grant more concessions to Japan after its humiliating defeat and it saw another foreign power added to its list of resident aliens, whose influence and investment developed Shanghai into the financial hub of modern China at the dawn of the twentieth century. 

In 1911 all men in China were ordered to remove their queues that symbolized subjection to Manchu authority. The Communist Party of China was founded and held one of its first meetings in 1921 in what is still known as Shanghai’s French Concession. It being created to challenge and ultimately prevail against the corrupt Kuomintang led by Chiang Kai shek. As China’s impoverished endured the 20-30’s, it looked to Russia’s revolution for inspiration, though it was “White Russian” refugees who were Shanghai’s second highest foreign population at the time. After fleeing their own lands and then Manchuria due to the Japanese occupation, the wealthy were forced to sell-off what they possessed as the middle class sought what work they were skilled at, from musicians to the more ruthless body guard.  The British thought these new arrivals beneath them but had no hesitation to con-scribe these ruffians of the men into their “Volunteer Corps, which provided much of the security the foreign concessions had compared to the rest of the city. The French Concession was turned into little Moscow as Russian culture was seen from the Cyrillic signage abounded on Ave Joffre where Russian” identity was most prevalent, along with Shanghai blini, black-bread and Borsht. By 1935 with over 25,000 newly arrived Russian’s, one could attend a cinema, read both Russian Tsarist as well as revolutionary newspapers and the local Bolshevik Embassy north of the Bund was constantly being harassed by these loyal “White’s”.

The lower ranks of these new arrivals to Shanghai were forced to do what little opportunity was available to them, and had no special right’s compared with other foreign nationals, being subject to Chinese law and its penal system. Prostitution was rife amongst its female core, drunkards slept off their binges on street corners and doorways, while beggars went around seeking alms from native and foreigner alike. What remains today of these former resident aliens is the abandoned Orthodox church, the former Russian Embassy building and isolated circus or cabaret show to entertain Shanghai’s masses. There is a rejuvenating influence of Russian business opportunity now established and growing with Shanghai’s firm grip as Asia’s new “Financial” capital city to rival Hong Kong and Singapore.

The 1930’s was Shanghai's time of "hedonistic freedoms, political ambiguities and capitalist free-for-all" which spawned some of its more notorious gangsters that much of the modern Chinese triads owe their present systems of operation to. A pock-faced Huang Jin rong was Shanghai's most powerful gangster at the same time holding the commissioner’s position of the French Concession Police Force. His (Da shijie Big Palace), opened in 1917 was more bizarre and burlesque to challenge its New World Building rival of acrobatics and nightclub entertainers. Cassia Ma created her empire on the collection of “night soil” to be barged upriver and sold as fertilizer for an exorbitant profit.

A “Big-Eared” Du Yuesheng who was born in Pudong and recruited into the Qingbang, Green Gang by Huang Jin ron, to later set up his own opium den and cartel through a rival (Hong, Red Gang) and by 1927 was in full control of the city’s racket and vice market. Du made his way around the city in a bullet-proof sedan with armed bodyguards perched on its running boards and played a major role in Chiang Kai shek’s anticommunist’s purges and funded Japanese resistance groups. In 1931 he sat on Shanghai's Municipal Council and was known as the “unofficial” mayor of the city. A convert of Christianity Du in 1937 he became head administrator of Shanghai’s Red Cross. During WWII he relocated to Chongqing and after the war to Hong Kong, where he died in 1951 a multimillionaire.

 

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