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Shanghai, Pearl of Orient and financial center of China

Map of the provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and SAR of China. Source: chokkicx / Getty Images

The municipality of Shanghai is the financial center of China and a tier 1 city. Its name literally means “On the sea”, although it actually has no direct connection to the sea.
It grew as a city only relatively recently. The nearby cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou, respectively capitals of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, have been more important for a very long time. Shanghai’s importance changed in the XVIII century. The decision of Qianlong Emperor to move the Customs Office from Suzhou to Shanghai made it the center of trade with foreigners. Its positioning at the delta of the Chang Jiang (or Yangtze River) ensures that boats can go through the river into inner China with ease.
Shanghai was then defined as a treaty port after the First Opium war. At first, UK, France and US had their own concessions in Shanghai. With time, also other countries joined: Japan, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Germany and so on.
The city grew in its internationality also due to hosting many refugees in the first part of the XX century. The most important groups are the white Russians after the revolution, and a good portion of Jewish during Nazism.

Shanghai – a city on the sea or on a river delta?

Shanghai municipality was established in 1927 and has been growing in size for some time. At this moment, it includes also some islands on the delta of Changjiang. The biggest is Chongming, which is the third biggest island of the entire country. The climate is subtropical humid. Temperatures are cool in the winter and hot in summer. The rain season also takes place during summer.
Shanghai is one of the biggest cities of the world, with a population of 34 million people. The local language, Shanghainese, is a dialect of Wu languages, that can be normally found in the neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

A view of the Bund. At the center, the famous Oriental Pearl TV Tower, once the tallest building of the city.

Tourism and financial business

Shanghai’s tourism industry is particularly valuable in China. The city is also the financial core of China, and the third financial spot of the world after New York and London.
Many start ups are also present, for example in the district of Yangpu. There are also several manufacturing companies – notably automotive manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Tesla and General Motors.
Shanghai hosts the first free trade zone of China. Companies in the area pay no taxes or customs duties, making Shanghai an even more important city for logistic purposes in East Asia. Shanghai is the most important port of the world for container since 2010, overtaking Singapore.
The transportation system in Shanghai is one of the best in the world. The subway system is extensive and cheap with more than a dozen of lines available and more in construction. Shanghai also hosts the biggest maglev railway at the highest speed – 430km/h.

Shanghai’s NECC (National Exhibition and Convention Center) hosts many important trading shows, including CIIE and Automechanika Shanghai. Source: Canton Fair

The most international city of China

Shanghai is the most international city of China, but it retains its own traits. As a city that has been receiving foreign influence as well as immigrants from all over the country, almost any kind of cuisine can be found in Shanghai. The modern architecture of the city attracts many tourists from all over the world. Shanghai also hosts the Shanghai Fashion Week twice per year, an important event for the fashion industry.

Shanghai is one of the most representative cities of China. Not because of its past, but because of its projection towards the future. Indeed, the city’s importance in the global landscape grows more and more together with China.

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