Nearly 100 years since the middle of 19th century, the word”Shanghai Concession” appeared very often on the historical materials during this segment. The earliest Britain Concession was established in 1845 and all the Concessions were abolished in 1943. Being concession for such a long time really had a great effect on the development of Shanghai, which was we could not deny. Until today, when people are traveling in Shanghai, they could easily notice that the witnessed remains are still telling their memories of Old Shanghai, and faintly, realize Shanghai people’s occidental way of thinking and living.
The Formation of Shanghai Concession
After the Opium Wars, according to the Nanjing Treaty between Britain and Qing Dynasty, Shanghai was forced to open as a port and Qing’s trade ban against foreign countries was also released.In 1945, the Rules of Shanghai Land Lease announced the region of Britain Concession which was the first Concession in Shanghai. In 1848, America set its concession in Hongkou area while France declared establishment of its concession in June 1849. Three years later, Britain Concession and American Concession combined together and extended twice then changed into international settlement of Shanghai in 1899.But Japanese army occupied this concession in1941.
Shanghai International Settlement VS Shanghai French Concession
The predecessors of Shanghai International Settlement are American Concession and Britain Concession. But since Britain was the major power in ruling, this concession was also called Britain Concession. The core of Britain Concession is the bund while Huaihai Road is the core of French Concession. I always wondered why Shanghai went by the name of Paris in the Orient but not London in the Far East.
The character of Concession is extraterritoriality that generated Shanghai into the testing ground of Western style in the Far East by countries such Britain and France. All the architectures’ style and administration system in Shanghai Concession were copied from their motherland but still kept a little distinct from each other.
Once Britain Concession was set up, many Chinese citizens were forced to leave. Formidable police was built and lots of them were emigrants from the Great Britain or Hindu trained; on the contrary, Chinese citizens could still live in French Concession due to less French emigrants and members of Shanghai Green Gang were asked to enforce the rule strategy.
In 1854, municipal council was founded in Britain Concession which was a regional autonomy institution which abandoned the supervision of the superior. French Concession was directly dominated by France Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Consul had the real power in administration. These two models, one emphasized freedom of market and autonomy of communities and the other stressed everyone has the equal right to enjoy the comfortable life. Reflecting on the communal facilities, Britain water Service Company only signed water providing treaty with customers who could afford; while, in French Concession, after bought water from Britain Concession, through public taps, they provided water to all the citizens in that area including Chinese. Take parks for example, Chinese were not allowed into Parks in the Britain Concession until the end of 1920s. However, in French Concession, titled Avenue des Champs Elysees, the wide Xiafei Road with paulownia standing at two sides was a romantic street for everyone’s appreciation.
Britain Concession focused on the construction of economic facilities which left Shanghai a framework of the biggest trade and financial center. Obviously, based on the Bund, the main street Nanjing Road was planned to extend to the west. And Frech Concession left the fashionable lifestyle to the Old Shanghai.