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History of Shanghai
10/8/2004 14:58

Historic Transformation


Shanghai has undergone a historic transformation since its liberation on May 27, 1949. In the past more than 50 years, fundamental changes have taken place in this once semi-feudal and semi-colonial city. Particularly, since the Chinese government adopted the reform and opening policy in 1978, Shanghai has witnessed marked progresses in its social and economic development, thanks to the distinctive strategies adopted by the city government applicable to the advancement of a megalopolis like Shanghai. Today, Shanghai is the largest economic and transportation center in China. It also enjoys a reputation as a famed historical city in the country. Now, the city is striving to turn itself into one of the economic, financial, trade and transportation centers in the world.

Modern Age


In the 16th century (or the middle period of the Ming Dynasty), Shanghai became the national center of textile & handicraft industry. In 1685, Shanghai set up its first customs office. After the Opium War in the mid-19th century, Shanghai served as a major trading port and gateway to inland China. With invasion of the big powers from across the world, Shanghai was then turned into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial city for about 100 year. On May 27, 1949, Shanghai was liberated by the People's Liberation Army of the Communist Party of China from the Kuomingtang rule and began to write its chapter in the history of the development of New China.

Founding of the City


Shanghai began as Huating County, an administrative district established in 751 AD. The county, located in an area known today as Songjiang District, had its boundary reaching today's Hongkou District in the north, Xiasha in the east and the coast in the south. In 991 AD, Shanghai Town was set up in the county. During the 1260-1274 period, the town evolved into an important trading port and in 1292, the then central government approved the establishment of Shanghai County in this area, which has been widely deemed as the official beginning of the city of Shanghai.


Origin of "Hu" and "Shen"


Shanghai is called in Chinese ``Hu'' for short and ``Shen'' as a nickname. About 6,000 years ago, the western part of today's Shanghai dried up into land and its eastern part became a piece of land about 2,000 years ago. During the Spring-Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221 BC), this area was once the feoff of Huang Xie, the Chun Shen Governor of the State of Chu. So, ``Shen'' comes from the title of the governor. During the Jin Dynasty (4th-5th centuries), fishermen living along the Songjiang River (today's Suzhou Creek) and the coast of the East China Sea created a fishing tool called ``Hu.'' By combining the name of the fishing tool and the then term for estuary of big rivers, they coined a Chinese character ``Hu'' to name the place as it sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the longest river in China.