Come and Experience the Excitement of Shanghai!
Shanghai, Hu for short, is a renowned international metropolis drawing more and more attention from all over the world. Situated on the estuary of Yangtze River, it serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. Also it is a popular destination for visitors to sense the pulsating development of the country.
In addition to its modernization, the city's multicultural flair endows it with a unique glamour. Here, one finds the perfect blend of cultures, the modern and the traditional , and the western and the oriental. New skyscrapers and old Shikumen together draw the skyline of the city. Western customs and Chinese traditions intertwined and formed the city's culture, making a visitor's stay truly memorable.
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A Short History of Shanghai
Shanghai, which literally means the "City on the Sea," lies on the Yangzi River delta at the point where China's main waterway completes its 5,500-km (3,400-mi) journey to the Pacific. Until 1842 Shanghai's location made it merely a small fishing village. After the first Opium War, however, the British named Shanghai a treaty port, opening the city to foreign involvement.
The village was soon turned into a city carved up into autonomous concessions administered concurrently by the British, French, and Americans, all independent of Chinese law. Each colonial presence brought with it its particular culture, architecture, and society.
Although Shanghai had its own walled Chinese city, many native residents still chose to live in the foreign settlements. Thus began a mixing of cultures that shaped Shanghai's openness to Western influence. Shanghai became an important industrial center and trading port that attracted not only foreign businesspeople (60,000 by the 1930s) but also Chinese migrants from other parts of the country.
In its heyday, Shanghai was the place to be -- it had the best art, the greatest architecture, and the strongest business in Asia. With dance halls, brothels, glitzy restaurants, international clubs, and even a foreign-run racetrack, Shanghai was a city that catered to every whim of the rich. But poverty ran alongside opulence, and many of the lower-class Chinese provided the cheap labor that kept the city running.
The Paris of the East became known as a place of vice and indulgence. Amid this glamour and degradation the Communist Party held its first meeting in 1921. In the 1930s and '40s, the city weathered raids, invasions, then outright occupation by the Japanese. The party was over. By 1943, at the height of World War II, most foreigners had fled and the concessions had been ceded to the Japanese, bringing Shanghai's 101 years as a treaty port to a close. Despite the war's end, fighting continued as Nationalists and Communists fought a three-year civil war for control of China. The Communists declared victory in 1949 and established the People's Republic of China, after which the few remaining foreigners left the country. Closed off from the outside world with which it had become so comfortable, Shanghai fell into a deep sleep. Fashion, music, and romance gave way to uniformity and the stark reality of Communism.
The decades from 1950 to 1980 passed by with one Five Year Plan after another, marked by periods of extreme famine and drought, reform and suppression. Shanghai's industries soldiered on during these years; the city remained the largest contributor of tax revenue to the central government. Its political contribution, however, had far greater ramifications: the city was the powder keg for the Cultural Revolution and the base of operations for the infamous Gang of Four, led by Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing. The so-called January Storm of 1967 purged many of Shanghai's leaders, and Red Guards in Shanghai fervently carried out their destruction of the "Four Olds": old ways of idea, living, traditions, and thought.
Yet, in 1972, with the Cultural Revolution still raging, Shanghai hosted the historic meeting that would help lay the groundwork for the China of today. Premier Zhou Enlai and U.S. president Richard Nixon signed the Shanghai Communiqué, which enabled the two countries to normalize relations and encouraged China to open talks with the rest of the world. Twenty years later, the 14th Party Congress endorsed the concept of a socialist market economy, opening the door ever wider to foreign investment.
Today Shanghai has once again become one of China's most open cities ideologically, socially, culturally, and economically, striving to return to the internationalism that defined it before the Revolution. Shanghai's path to this renewed prominence began in 1990 when China's leader, Deng Xiaoping, chose it as the engine of the country's commercial renaissance, aiming to rival Hong Kong by 2010. If China is a dragon, he said, Shanghai is its head. Indeed the city is once again all about business. Having embraced competition and a market-driven economy in just a few years, it now hosts the nation's stock market, accounts for approximately one-fifth of the country's gross national product, and serves as the most important industrial base in the nation.
Today, beauty and charm coexist with kitsch and commercialism. From the colonial architecture of the former French Concession to the forest of cranes and the neon-lighted high-rises jutting above the city, Shanghai is a city of paradox and change.