Upbeat Cynicism

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Concessions

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Up till the end of 1941, Shanghai was divided into four distinct sections, administered by three different governments. The area from Yan An Road to roughly a mile south (it varied with the jogs of the streets), and from the Huang Pu River in the east to quite a distance west (I’m unclear on the western boundary thus far, but we’re talking miles, here) was the French Concession, administered by the French government according to French law (supposedly). And from 1941 to 1943, it was run by the Vichy government.

North of this was the International Settlement, governed, near as I can tell, as a mini-British colony. Actually, it’s a lot more complicated than that, being still sovereign territory of China, but run according to votes of foreign residents (effectively by the tai-pans of the richest British trading concerns). It ran from about three miles west of the Huang Pu, right up to the river, then squeezed north of a bend in the river to follow its north bank.

Surrounding these two areas — which constitute the area most people called Shanghai at the time (and today, too, actually) — were the Chinese districts, governed by the KMT (Guomindang) nationalist government.

In addition, the area encircled by what is new Ren Min Lu (“the People’s Road”) was the Chinese-adminstered Old City, the area of the original fishing village. Now, it’s mostly slum, with a street layout inside that’s at least twice as confusing as anywhere else in Shanghai. The one touristy thing in the Old City is Yu Garden.

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Written by [IMH]

20 April 2006 at 2:29 pm

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