The economic development of Shanghai, 1842-1910
Tsai, Gerald, Jr.
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During the 19th century, foreign colonization had gradually extended to China. Due to the nearness to the other European colonies in Asia, the southern coast of China including Canton and Fukien naturally became the first ones to establish trading relations with the foreign fleets. However, the restriction of trade at Canton made the foreign merchants find a new out let in the China market. The outbreak of the Opium War in 1842 virtually showed the eagerness of the British to establish permanent trading foothold and to set a new influence over China trade. Under the Treaty of Nangking signed in 1842, Shanghai was declared as an open port, and opened freely to foreign trade. After the port was opened, the British Settlement was immediately founded for the exclusive use of the British merchants. Such exclusive priviledges was envied by other foreign powers, and the open-door policy based on equal treatment was thus demanded. Soon afterwards, other foreign countries followed suit, in which the Americans and the French were both establishing Settlements for their own. Due to the advantageous location of the foreign Settlements and the security given by the foreign powers, the development in the Settlements was greatly enhanced after the opening of the port. Hand in hand, with the economic development or Shanghai, the British and other foreign powers had their base interests in developing Shanghai in various aspects as to increase their trade and commerce to a further extent. The various Land Regulations with their several revisions safeguarded the foreign interests in Shanghai and also rounded the administrating policies. The Municipal Council was officially inaugurated in 1854 which administered most of the Municipal affairs as well as commercial and financial interests. The Shanghai Municipal Council had contributed a great deal in the domestic developments of the Settlements such as the building of bridges, construction or roads, sanitation and tax system. In addition to public works the Consul had also helped a great deal in establishing various public utilities. Although some of the utilities were founded by individual companies, but without the aid or the Municipal Council these works could not be carried out favorably. There were a number or utilities formed within this seventy years of opening or port such as the "Shanghai Water Works", the "Shanghai Gas Company", the "Shanghai Electric Company", and the "Brush Electric Tramway Company." These companies were established successively in accordance with the needs of the growing population in Shanghai. In order to comply with the need of growing trade and industries, many wharves and warehouses were built for lading and storing merchandise. The Woosung Railroad was first constructed in 1876 to facilitate the transportation between Woosung wharves and Shanghai. Similarly, the Shanghai Nangking Railroad was built in 1905. In regard to trade and commerce, we may say that Shanghai surpassed Canton shortly after the opening of port, due to a better location and better trade method in Shanghai. One significant feature of the early trade is that most of the commerce was carried under a monopoly-like system. Several large commercial houses were organized to control the Shanghai trade, under the management of foreign merchants, mostly British. The several most well known and prominent commercial houses established within this seventy years were the "Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation", the "Shanghai Stearn Navigation Company," the "Oriental Banking Corporation," and the "China Merchants Steam Navigation Company." The trade volume of Shanghai increased enormously during the period from 1840 to 1910. The figures run roughly 3.5 million taels in 1843 to 37 million taels in 1865, to 167 million taels in 1892, to 118 million taels in 1901, and to 169 million taels in 191O, respectively. Among the various items of foreign trade, opium and cotton were the major items of imports which amounted to roughly 75% of total imports annually. Tea and silk represented the major items of exports which constituted over 80% of the total exports annually. However, it must be noted that most of the foreign trade within this period from 1840 to 191O was largely handled by the British merchants. In 1895 the industrial developments were greatly stimulated in Shanghai. It was caused by the Treaty of Shinomosheki signed between Japan and China, which gave special priviledges to foreign countries to start manufacturing industries in Shanghai. Many foreign merchants took this opnortunity and a number of foreign owned factories made their appearance. Various developments of industries were established. Among them most important ones were the Textile industries, Metal and Machineries industries, Flour Mill industreis, Chemical works, and Ship building industries. However, the industrial developments did effect the life of the Settlement greatly. The result was two-fold. On one hand it increased the production in the Settlements and tend to raise the standard of living of people, but on the other hand, it gave birth to many evils which were harmful to workers such as the use of contract labor, child labor, and the use of poor physical plant. All these defects were due to the lack of industrial regulations which both the International Settlement and the French Concession had limited authority to regulate upon. As a whole, the significance of Shanghai to foreign powers had been based largely on these various economic factors. It had been the policy of the foreign powers to protect their capital investment, their trade, and their citizens, and at the same time to use the means of protection, armed forced, to gain further privileges from China. This was true since the beginning of the opening of port and has been true at various times since that date.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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