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Shanghai (shăngˈhīˈ, shängˈhīˈ), city and municipality (2010 pop. 23,019,148), in, but independent of, Jiangsu prov., E China, on the Huangpu (Whangpoo) River where it flows into the Chang (Yangtze) estuary. It is an independent unit (2,400 sq mi/6,218 sq km) administered directly by the central government. One of the world's great seaports, Shanghai is China's largest city.


The only large port of central China not cut off from the interior by mountains, it is the natural seaward outlet of, and the gateway to, the Chang basin, one of China's richest regions. It handles much of the country's foreign shipping and a large coastal trade. Great sums are expended to keep open its continually silting harbor. A submarine base is in the harbor. A new deepwater port, Yangshan, located on islands 17 mi (27.5 km) SE of Shanghai in the South China Sea, opened in 2005; the port is connected to the mainland by the 20.2-mi (32.5-km) Donghai Bridge. Although water transport is of prime importance, highways radiate outward, and there are rail connections with Nanjing and Hangzhou, with links through those cities to the N and S China networks. A new international airport opened in Pudong (East Shanghai) in 1999.

Despite a lack of fuel and raw materials, 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 also is a major financial and publishing center and a regional headquarters for many multinational companies, and contains a free-trade zone (est. 2013). 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.

In the 1970s and 80s, Shanghai's industrial base was shifted to include more light industries in order to reduce pollution. There was much rebuilding and expansion; new factories emerged around the outskirts of the city, and the northwest section was developed as an industrial district. Development in the 1990s concentrated on Pudong, an area formerly dominated by farms and marshland that was designated a special economic development zone. A project to divert much-needed water for the city from the Chang River into the Huangpu was completed in 1996. The 1990s also brought new bridges and tunnels and a subway system, now the world's longest.

Landmarks and Institutions

The city's commercial section, the former International Settlement, is modern and Western in appearance, with broad streets and boulevards lined with imposing buildings. The Bund (which runs along the waterfront), Nanjing Road, and Bubbling Well Road are the most noted thoroughfares. Typical Asian buildings are found only in the original Chinese town (no longer walled), known as Nanshi. The Oriental Pearl Television Tower (1,535 ft/468 m high), three neighboring, soaring skyscrapers—the Shanghai Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Jin Mao Tower—that are among the tallest buildings in the world, and the butterfly-orchid-shaped Oriental Arts Center with its four performance halls are in Pudong.

Next to Beijing, Shanghai is the country's foremost educational center and is home to Fudan Univ., Jiaotong Univ., Shanghai Univ. of Science and Technology, Tongji Univ., three medical colleges, and numerous technological and scientific institutes. Shanghai has an astronomical observatory and many research institutes and learned societies. People's Square, refurbished in the late 1990s, is the site of an opera house and a museum containing the country's finest collection of Chinese art. The Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, in a converted 19th-century power plant, was the first government-supported museum of its kind in China. The China Art Museum houses a large collection of Chinese modern art, and the West Bund Museum features art from Paris's Pompidou Centre. Several private museums, notably the Minsheng and the Rockbund Art Museums, also show new art.


The name Shanghai dates from the Sung dynasty (11th cent.), but the town, which became a walled city in the 16th cent., was unimportant until it was opened to foreign trade by the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. The ensuing Western influence launched the city on its phenomenal growth. The greater part of the city was incorporated into the British concession (1843), just north of the old walled city, and into the U.S. concession of Hongkew (1862). In 1863 the United States and Great Britain consolidated into the International Settlement the areas that had been conceded to them. The French, who had obtained a concession in 1849, continued it as a separate entity. The foreign zones, which were under extraterritorial administration, maintained their own courts, police system, and armed forces. Thus Shanghai until World War II was a divided city.

In 1927, Chiang Kai-shek, at the head of the Nationalist army and with the support of the Chinese Communists, captured Shanghai. The Chinese section was immediately placed under the Kuomintang government. Japan invaded and attacked the Chinese city in 1932 to force the government to break an unofficial boycott of Japanese goods. In Aug., 1937, as part of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese again attacked the Chinese city, and resistance was overcome in November. The foreign zones were occupied by the Japanese after Dec. 7, 1941.

In 1943 the United States and Great Britain renounced their claims in Shanghai, as did France in 1946. The city was restored to China at the end of World War II, and the Chinese central government for the first time gained control of the entire city. In May, 1949, it fell to the Communist forces. Since Pudong was declared (1990) a special development zone, government and foreign investment has revived Shanghai as an international trade and financial center. An international exposition was held in the city in 2010.


See studies by F. L. H. Pott (1928, repr. 1973) and S. Dong (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in China. Situated near the mouth of the Yangtze River, on its right tributary the Huangp’u Chiang, 50 km from the East China Sea. Most populous city in China and one of the largest cities in the world. Shanghai and its adjacent territory constitute an autonomous municipality administered directly by the central government. Area, 5,800 sq km. Population, approximately 11 million (1974).

Shanghai is one of China’s major centers of industry, transportation, and commerce. As a seaport and river port it handles approximately 50 million tons of cargo annually, including nearly half the country’s overseas cargo. It is also an important railroad and highway junction. Shanghai has more than 1 million industrial workers and accounts for more than one-seventh of the value of China’s industrial production (1973–74).

Heavy industry produces more than 50 percent of the city’s gross industrial output; in 1949 the figure was only 14 percent. The machine-building industry produces more than one-fourth of the country’s output and manufactures equipment for the power-engineering, petroleum, mining, printing, paper, textile, and food-processing industries. Other products include electrical instruments, radio and electronic equipment, motor vehicles, ships, machine tools, motion-picture and still cameras, and watches. The city has iron and steel enterprises, which produce more than 2 million tons of steel annually; nonferrous metallurgy is represented as well. The diversified chemical industry, which is based on imported raw materials, accounts for about one-third of the nation’s output; products include mineral fertilizers, toxic chemicals, acids, plastics, synthetic resins, chemical fibers, rubber goods, and pharmaceuticals. The city also has an oil refinery.

Shanghai remains one of the most important centers of the textile industry in the world. Its textile mills employ more than one-third of its industrial workers and produce about one-fifth of China’s total output of fabrics, including more than half the country’s wool and silk. The tobacco industry, which accounts for more than half of China’s output, and the food-processing industry are also of considerable size.

Several large publishing houses are located in Shanghai. Among the city’s educational institutions are Futan and T’ungchi universities, medical and pedagogical institutes, and an institute of foreign languages. Other institutions include a branch of the Academy of Sciences of the People’s Republic of China, research institutions, several scholarly societies, and the Zikaiwei Observatory. Cultural institutions include the Shanghai Library (more than 3.5 million volumes in 1977), the Shanghai Municipal People’s Library (more than 900,000 volumes), and museums.

The central part of the city and its principal industrial sections lie along the left bank of the Huangp’u and along its tributary the canalized river Wusung Chiang (also Suchou Ho). There are industrial enterprises and artisans’ workshops south of the city’s center in Nantao (Southern City), Shanghai’s historical nucleus, where the principal architectural monuments are concentrated.

The old industrial districts, dominated by the textile industry, include Ch’ap’ei, P’ut’o, and Yangp’u. The new districts of Tengp’u, Minhang, and Kaoch’iao contain, for the most part, machine-building and chemical enterprises. There are wharves and cargo-handling facilities on the right bank of the Huangp’u in the Tungch’ang (P’utung) district.


Shanghai grew from the fishing settlement of Hu Tu, which had been established in antiquity, and by the 16th century was a busy center of trade and handicrafts. Under the Treaty of Nanking (1842), the city was opened to foreign trade. A British settlement was established in Shanghai in 1843, and an American settlement in 1848; the French obtained a concession in 1849 (seeEXTRATERRITORIAL CONCESSIONS). In 1854, Great Britain, France, and the USA seized the city’s customs administration, which they controlled until 1937. In 1860 and 1862 the Taiping rebels and Anglo-French interventionists clashed outside Shanghai.

In the second half of the 19th century Shanghai rapidly developed into the country’s leading industrial and commercial center and served as the principal base for the capitalist nations’ aggression in China. Beginning with the patriotic May Fourth Movement in 1919, the city was an important center of the national liberation and revolutionary movement. The First Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Shanghai in 1921, and the national Revolution of 1925–27 began in the city, which was the site of three workers’ uprisings in 1926 and 1927 (seeSHANGHAI UPRISINGS OF 1926–27). Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese from November 1937 to August 1945. The city was liberated from Kuomintang rule by the People’s Liberation Army of China on May 27,1949.


The central part of Shanghai comprises business and commercial areas with broad, tree-lined streets and multistory (up to 35 floors) buildings, whose architecture is either European or a stylized version of traditional Chinese design. On the outskirts of the city narrow, winding streets are lined with one-story houses, claywalled cottages, and bamboo huts. Architectural monuments of the 16th–19th centuries include the Former Temple of Confucius, the five-story octagonal Lung Hua Pagoda, and the Yu Fu Monastery, which contains a nephrite statue of Buddha that was brought from Burma. Shanghai’s craftsmen produce basketry, wood carvings, embroidery, woven goods, and articles of bone, stone, and metal.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in E China, in SE Jiangsu near the estuary of the Yangtze: the largest city in China and one of the largest ports in the world; a major cultural and industrial centre, with two universities. Pop.: 12 665 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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(36) It should be noted that Kwee was similarly disdainful of Chinese nationalism in the Indies, as evident in his searing criticism of young men who enlisted to go to China after the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 in his novel Pendekar dari Chapei (The champ of Chapei) (1932); see also his play Korbannya Yi Yung Thoan (Victim of the Brigade of Courage) (1928), compiled in Damono and Budianta 2009.
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