Memories of Shanghai

Shanghai is one of China’s four municipalities, along with Beijing, Tianjin, and Chongqing, that are directly administered by the central government. Being “cities”, but with “provincial” powers, they are both at once. Historically, 25 other municipalities had previously existed, either as part of the ROC (Republic of China) or the PRC (People’s Republic of China) between 1921 and 1954. This list includes many large current cities, such as Qingdao (1921–1927, 1929–1949), Hangzhou (1921–1927), Nanjing (1927–1952), and Wuhan (1927–1929, 1949), among many others.

Although originally a fishing village and market town, Shanghai grew in importance during the 19th century due to trade, both foreign and domestic, resulting from its favorable port location. Located on the southern estuary of the Yangtze River, with the Huangpu River  flowing through it, today the municipality is a global center for finance, research, technology,  manufacturing, and transportation, with the Port of Shanghai being the world’s busiest container port. It is also the most populous “city proper” in the world, with around 24.28 million people (as of 2019). Shanghai city was also 1 of 5 so-called “treaty ports”, which were forced open to European trade following the First Opium War.

Economic reforms, originally introduced by Deng Xiaoping during the 1980s, resulted in the intense redevelopment of Shanghai, especially in the Pudong  New Area, in large part due to the establishment of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone, the first such zone in mainland China. Today, the city has re-emerged as a hub for international trade and finance, with the  Shanghai Stock Exchange being one of the largest in the world by market capitalization. Classified in 2020 by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network as an Alpha+ (or Global First-Tier) City, Shanghai is currently ranked as having:

  • The world’s largest metro network
  • The 3rd-largest financial center (behind only New York City and London)
  • The 5th-largest scientific research output
  • The 6th-highest number of billionaires

Tourism is also a major industry of Shanghai. In 2017, for example, the number of domestic tourists was over 318 million, while overseas tourists numbered around 8.73 million. As of 2019, the city contained 71 five-star and 61 four-star hotels; 1,758 travel agencies; 113 “rated” tourist attractions (from 1A to 5A); and 34 “red” tourist attractions (having historical significance to Chinese Communism). Shanghai also hosts numerous national and international events annually, such as Shanghai Fashion Week, the Chinese Grand Prix, ChinaJoy, and the China International Import Expo (CIIE).

Must-see sites would have to include:

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