Shanghai International Settlement (SIS): City Divisions

Shanghai city divisions
Figure 1.-- Shanghai was know as the 'Paris of the East'. It had all of thexcesses of a major city, Perhaps more necause of its unique circumstances. Even so, the Europeans in the Shanghai Interntional Settlement (SIS) led pefectly normal, actually privlidged family lives with all the amenities of life at home. These British children are headed for Jessfield Park. Notice the toy sailboats which they will launch un the park. They atteeded schools like their schools at home. The children here are wearing their school uniforms, although we are not sure about the pith helment. While the residents of the International settlment were leading quiet normal lives, beginning with the Japsnese seizure of Manchuria (1931), powerful events began to swirl around Shanghai including Japanese bombing and firce fighting. When the Japanese invased China proper (1937), they left the SIS in tact until Pearl Harbor and the launch of the Pacific war (1941). By this time, many Europeans had left, but thousands remained in the city.

Shanghai expanded as it grew economically. What had been a village grew into a bustling city. The Europeans eventually joined by the Japanese carved up the city into autonomous concessions administered primarily by the British, but with the French, Americans, and others participating. This was all completly beyond Chinese law and administration. Each foreign presence impacted the culture, architecture, and society within the International Settlement (SIS). A major change occurred as the Japanese presence grew. The Japanese set up a largely separate enclave in Hongkew. This was theoretically within the SIS, but after the seizure of Manchuria and the rise of anti-Japanese feeling, responsibility for security in Hiongkew was assumed by Japanese naval troops. There was also the separate French area. In addition there was also the "Outside Roads" (越界筑路). This was Chinese territories were controlled and administrated by SIS authorities. The initial plans for the SIS was to exclude the Chinese. This did not prove practical because the foreigners wanted to hire Chinese as both family servants and workers. Thus large numbers of Chinese were granted residency in the SIS. And the SIS attracted the Chinese both because it was a refuge from the civil strife which was sweeping China and because there were not only well paying jobs, but business opportunities. Shanghai became known as 'The Paris of the East'. It was not only an economic powerhouse , but a cultural center as well, a city of both vice and indulgence. Admist all this the Communist Party of China held its first meeting (1921). Among boh Chinese and foreigners interested in China, Shanghai was seen as the place to be. It had wonderful art, impressive architecture, city parks, respected schools, and was becoming the most important commercial center in Asia. And along with that there were glitzy night club, numerous brothels, wonderful restaurants, international clubs, a popular racetrack, and much more. The more notorious spots were located outside the SIS. Shanghai in short had everything that money could buy, both positive and negative. Many Europeans and Chinese lived perfectly normal lives in accordnce with their on cultural values. There was also poverty with the Chinese providing cheap labor that that was part of Shanghai's economic success. Although the poor in Shanghai were normally much better off than the poor outside the city. More than 1 million Chinese lived in the SIS (1932). The Chinese thus were the great bulk of the SIS population. Shanghai actually had its own walled Chinese city. Even so, for both business and security reasons, many Chinese residents decided to live in the foreign settlements. The result was was a fascinating mixing of Eastern and Western cultures. The result was an openess to Western influence beyond that any where in China, even other forign enclaves. Shanghai became the most important industrial and commercial center in China. It attracted foreign businessmen from all over the world--some 60,000 by the 1930s. It also attracted Chinese migrants from the hinterland seeking economic advancement. Another 0.4 million Chinese fled into the SIS when the Japanese lauched their invasion of China proper (1937).


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Created: 6:07 PM 5/25/2016
Last updated: 6:07 PM 5/25/2016