Huangpu River, Pudong, Shanghai
Widely regarded as the citadel of China's modern economy, the city also serves as one of the most important cultural, commercial, financial, industrial and communications centers of China. Shanghai is also one of the world's busiest ports, and became the largest cargo port in the world in 2005.
Shanghai is China's leading industrial city, with large steelworks; textile mills; shipbuilding yards; oil-refining, gas-extracting, and diamond-processing operations; and plants making light and heavy machinery, electrical, electronic, and computer equipment, machine tools, turbines, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aircraft, tractors, motor vehicles, plastics, and consumer goods. The city is a major publishing center. Shanghai includes much of the surrounding rural area (over 2,000 sq mi/5,000 sq km); there farms produce the food crops that support the city's population.
There are three main areas in Shanghai. One is the Old City the south is typically Chinese, with alleys, markets and temples. It is also the site of the Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan), Shanghai?s finest garden. One is the former concession areas comprise the French Concession to the Old City?s west and the British and American Concessions ? Collectively known as the International Settlement ? to its north. Here are the Bund, the riverside promenade lined with grand colonial buildings, including the Peace Hotel and the Shanghai Club, and the city?s two main shopping streets, Nangjing Lu and Huaihai Lu. One is Pudong, Shanghai?s newest district, on the Huangpu River?s east bank, is now and immense business zone, with some of the highest buildings in the world.
History of Shanghai
Before the formation of Shanghai city, Shanghai was part of Songjiang County, governed by Suzhou prefecture. From the time of the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), Shanghai gradually became a busy seaport, outgrowing its original political jurisdictions. Before the nineteenth century, Shanghai was not considered a major city of China. Therefore, compared to most other major Chinese cities today, there are few ancient Chinese landmarks to be found in the city. The few cultural landmarks to be found are very ancient and typically date to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. This is mostly due to the fact that present-day Shanghai is within the historic cultural center of the Wu Kingdom (AD 222-280).
During the Qianlong era of the Qing Dynasty, Shanghai became an important regional port for the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers. It also became a major seaport for the nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, although overseas commerce was still forbidden at that time. A historically important area of this era is Wujiaochang (now in the Yangpu District), the foundation of the city center. Around the end of the Qianlong era, Shiliupu (now in the Huangpu District) became the largest port in East Asea.
Nineteenth to early twentieth century
The importance of Shanghai grew radically in the nineteenth century, as the city's strategic position at the mouth of the Yangtze River made it an ideal location for trade with the West. In 1842, Shanghai opened for international trade. From 1844 foreign nations achieve extraterritoriality on Chinese soil, which officially lasted until 1943 but was essentially defunct by the late 1930s. During this period, the British settlement, American settlement, French settlement and other foreign settlement were built on the banks of Huangpu River in Shanghai, a large influx of migrants from Europe and North America. From the twenties to the late 30s, gangsters wielded a great deal of power and ran casinos and brothels. It was from 1895, factories were built by Chinese and foreigners, industry emerged in Shanghai. Shanghai was then the biggest financial city in the Far East.
Under the Republic of China, Shanghai was made a special city in 1927 and a municipality in May 1930. The Japanese Navy bombed Shanghai on January 28, 1932, nominally in an effort to crush down Chinese student protests of the Manchurian Incident and the subsequent Japanese occupation. The Chinese fought back in what was known as the January 28 Incident. Chinese Nationalist Defenders of the defense of Sihang Warehouse in the 1937 Battle of Shanghai against the invading Japanese army, start of full-scale war. and was occupied until Japan's surrender in 1945. The International Settlement was occupied on 8 December 1941 with opposition from only the one remaining British gunboat stationed in the port and some Chinese irregulars.
Shanghai had been a centre for refugees as early as 1919 when large numbers of White Russians fleeing revolution and civil war took up residence there. During World War II, Shanghai became again a centre for refugees from Europe. It was the only city in the world that was open unconditionally to the Jews at the time. As a result, approximately 32,000 Jews, who like the other foreign communities, termed themselves "Shanghailanders," settled in this fascinating Chinese city.
After The People?s Republic of China was founded in 1949, most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. During the 1950s and 1960s, Shanghai became an industrial center. Modern development began with economic reforms in 1992, a decade later than many of the Southern Chinese provinces, but today, Shanghai is regarded as the center of finance and trade in mainland China, and is increasingly a critical center of communication with the Western world.
Culture of Shanghai
The vernacular language is Shanghainese, a dialect of Wu Chinese; while the official language is Standard Mandarin. The local dialect is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, and is an inseparable part of the Shanghainese identity. The Shanghai dialect today is a mixture of standard Wu Chinese as spoken in Suzhou, with the dialects of Ningbo and other nearby regions whose peoples have migrated to Shanghai in large numbers since the 20th Century.
Songjiang School and Huating School
Songjiang School is a small painting school during the Ming Dynasty. It is commonly considered as a further development of the Wu School, or Wumen School, in the then cultural center of the region, Suzhou. Huating School was another important art school during the middle to late Ming Dynasty. Its main achievements were in traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and poetry, and especially famous for its Renwen painting. Dong Qichang is one of the masters from this school.
The Shanghai School (Haipai) is a very important Chinese school of traditional arts during the Qing Dynasty and the whole of the twentieth century. Under efforts of masters from this school, traditional Chinese art reached another climax and continued to the present in forms of the "Chinese painting" or guohua for short. The Shanghai School challenged and broke the literati tradition of Chinese art, while also paying technical homage to the ancient masters and improving on existing traditional techniques. Members of this school were themselves educated literati who had come to question their very status and the purpose of art, and had anticipated the impending modernization of Chinese society. In an era of rapid social change, works from the Shanghai School were widely innovative and diverse, and often contained thoughtful yet subtle social commentary.
Other Shanghainese cultural artifacts include the cheongsam, a modernization of the traditional Chinese/Manchurian qipao garment which first appeared in the 1910s in Shanghai. The cheongsam dress was slender with high cut sides, and tight fitting. This contrasts sharply with the traditional qipao which was designed to conceal the figure and be worn regardless of age. The cheongsam went along well with the western overcoat and the scarf, and portrayed a unique East Asian modernity, epitomizing the Shanghainese population in general. As Western fashions changed, the basic cheongsam design changed, too, introducing high-necked sleeveless dresses, bell-like sleeves and, the black lace frothing at the hem of a ball gown. By the 1940s, cheongsams came in transparent black, beaded bodices, matching capes and even velvet. And later, checked fabrics became also quite common. After 1980, the Shanghainese styles have seen a recent revival as stylish party dresses. The fashion industry has been rapidly revitalizing in the past decade, there is on average one fashion show per day in Shanghai today. Like Shanghai's architecture, local fashion designers strive to create a fusion of western and traditional designs, often with innovative if not controversial results.