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Home Shanghai Travel Shanghai Districts Changning District

Shanghai Changning District Introduction


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Changning District (长宁区) located in the west side of downtown Shanghai has a great advantage in location and convenient transportation. It is connected with eastwardly Jingan District, northwardly links to Putuo District. They take the Suzhou River or Wusong River as the border. On the southeast side, it connects with Xuhui District. The southwest side is Minhang District. The total area is 38.3 square kilometers, and it administrates 9 communities and 1 town. In the district, there are four flyovers – Neihuan Flyover, Yanan Flyover, Zhonghuan Flyover and Waihuan Flyover. Changning district has a comprehensive environment. Gubei community is the well known international community built as the first generation in Shanghai. The traditional senior residential zone of Shanghai is famous for the buildings on Xinhua Road and Villa zone of Hongqiao Garden. Hongqiao development zone is one of most developed and earliest modernized commercial zones in Shanghai. The foreign consulates and many global 500 enterprises are situated over here.

Changning District has, with its convenient transportation facilities, accomplished infrastructure, fine ecological environment, profound cultural heritages and personalized community services, attracted more and more investors and professionals overseas to settle down here, ever since the reform and opening drive in China, and, in particular, the formation of the national-level Hongqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone in 1986.

Currently, the District hosts 19 consulates, over 3,000 foreign-invested establishments and representative offices, and about 6,000 households of more than 20,000 permanent residents from 114 countries and regions. Changning has turned itself into one of the most international urban districts in Shanghai.

These friends from all over the world have brought with them not only investment funds, advanced technologies and management experiences necessary for the district development, but also diverse features of various cultures and perspectives. They have now merged themselves among the local residents and got along in perfect harmony with them, helping to write out a new page for the internationalized district. Changning District has formulated a new strategy for its further development of a modernized international district during the ‘11th Five-Year-Plan’ period, which is characterized by the objective of ‘advanced Hongqiao, upgraded function, digitalized Changning and globalized urban district’.

With digitalization of Changing as a guiding principle, globalization of Changning as an advancement goal, and internationalization of commerce as a major driving force, the District aims at being a most important link in the Yangtze Delta area, where Hongqiao is expected to grow into an international commercial zone, and Changning an information-popularized district and a nation-wide service provider, contributing to a solid foundation for the building of Changning into a modernized international urban district. Changning District Government attaches its utmost importance to a clean, transparent, just and law-governing administration image; striving as always for high-efficient, convenient and considerate services for the expatriates and helping them feel an integral part in the formation of a harmonious community.

This website is designed to offer you information that covers various aspects related to the economic development, cultural heritages, urban development and community life of Changning District. We wish to help you know more about the past, present and future of the District and to let, through you, more of your relatives and friends share the achievements in the construction of a better Changning.

The History of Changning District

When was the earliest time that foreigners came to Shanghai? It is difficult to trace back due to lack of information. However, according to existing historical materials, some Muslims from the Arabic area came to the port Qinglong town (south coast of Wusong River) for missions or trading as early as during Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). In 1608, Xu Guangqi invited Italian missionary P. Lazaus Cattaneo to visit Shanghai. These missionaries who visited Shanghai for commercial or religious reasons all stayed for very short period of time. No foreigner resided in the area at that time. Generally speaking, foreigners’ visits, staying time period and range before the founding of Shanghai are all coincidental, temporary and limited, which reflects the status of China’s foreign affairs at that time.

On November 17th 1843, Shanghai became a new city and an open port for trading. British trading ships entered the port for business and foreigners started moving to Shanghai. By the end of 1843, 25 British had registered for residence in Shanghai, among whom most are businessmen and missionaries. From the time Shanghai was first founded and open to the end of 1851, the British Consulate calculated 265 registered people times for British visiting Shanghai and that did not include sailors, gypsies, and those who did not register. Seven ships visited Shanghai within one and half months after the founding and opening of the new city. If we calculate the number of visitors according to 40 people per ship, the result is 280. In 1844, there were 44 ships and about 1,700 visitors. In 1852, there were 182 ships and more than 7,000 visitors.

Most of the early immigrants were from Britain, then from America, British colonies and other European countries. There were diplomats, sailors, businessmen, office workers, bankers, clerk, doctors, custom staff, port staff, architects, engineers, carpenters, intellectuals, cops, servicemen, military personnel, and lots of people with no jobs. Among all people with jobs, most were businessmen and clerk.

Concessions were not divided at the beginning of the founding of Shanghai. Housing and facilities were not set up yet; so most foreigners rented houses in Shanghai. Along with more frequent trading and arrival of their relatives, foreigners started searching for their own places. Missionary Medhurst came to Shanghai with George Balfour and recounted in his memoir, “The residence for businessmen is a significant issue for the British consul. Before the army was sent back to Britain, the Bureau of British Civil Administration and Navy had already found a great spot. The consul considered confirming the land one of his responsibilities when the new city was founded. He carefully defined the boarder of the prospective residential area, surrounded by villages and rivers so that it is easy to defend when necessary.”

In the next couple decades, a few nations settled their concessions in Shanghai. The first one is British concession, which is “to the left of Huangpu River”, “with Wusong River on the back, whose conjunction with Huangpu River are 150 yards wide and deep enough to allow large ships to go to Suzhou”, and “Yangjing Bang, 30 yards wide when Huangpu River rises, is to its south” while “the west to the concession is an unexplored land to villages”. The spot is around today’s Bund. Around May 1844, British businessmen gradually rented houses there and founded a few companies. In 1848, Hongkou district, to the north of Suzhou River, was settled as the American concession. In April 1849, the 968 acres of land outside the north gate of Shanghai was settled as the French concession.

When foreign concessions were first set up, there was no large-scale immigration due to residential segregation of Chinese and foreigners, small population in the concessions and lack of developing motivation of concessions. As concessions developed, the number of foreign immigrants also increased. The key reason behind the first wave of immigration is the modification to concessions' regulations after the Shanghai Small Knife Society Uprising in 1854. At that time, large groups of refugees rushed into concessions, which forced residential segregation of Chinese and foreigners to cease. Under the principle of "residential segregation between Chinese and foreigners," the concessions' administrative management rights still belonged to Chinese government although each concession has its own autonomous rights. But the uprisings of Small Knife Society and Heavenly Kingdom of Taiping resulted into large influx of refugees, which ceased the residential segregation between Chinese and foreigners and threatened security in concessions. Concessions expanded, set up independent police, administrative and law systems and became "independent nations". Meanwhile, large numbers of foreigners also rushed into Shanghai. In 1860, there were more than 500 foreigners in Shanghai. The number went up to more than 2,000 in 1865 and more than 5,000 in 1895. The foreigners' community developed along with the concessions and foreigners from Britain, France and America took a share, which reflected how the entire Chinese society was forced to open to the West at that time.

In the second half of 19th century, the number of foreigners in Shanghai increased stably. It increased rapidly especially after Shanghai British and American Concession was renamed International Settlement of Shanghai in 1899. The number increased by 10,000 almost every ten years. In 1905, there were more than 10,000 foreigners in Shanghai, more than 20,000 in 1915 and more than 30,000 in 1925. It increased even faster in the second half of 1920s and went beyond 60,000 in 1931, six times of that in 1905. Two groups of new immigrants during that period were significant for Shanghai foreigners' community. Firstly, as Japan invaded Korea, WWI broke out and the scheduled ships between Shanghai and Nagasaki were set up between 1910 and around 1920, large groups of Japanese and Japan-occupied Koreans came to Shanghai. Later, during 1920 to 1930, lots of Russians moved to Shanghai due to the October Revolution. The result was shocking – the number of foreigners in Shanghai reached 4, 8806 in 1930 and nationalities of the immigrants in Shanghai reached 56. At that time, the number of British immigrants topped the list from the founding of Shanghai to 1910 and reached peak in 1930 with 8,440, among which 6,221 in Shanghai International Settlement and 2,219 in the French concession. The number of Japanese immigrants increased rapidly. There were only 168 Japanese in 1880, 644 in 1890, 736 in 1900. The number increased rapidly to 4,331 in 1905. It went beyond that of British immigrants in 1990 and topped the list since then, with 25,827 and 47% of all foreign immigrants in Shanghai in 1927. At that time, foreign immigrants in Shanghai came from a lot of different countries and the number of Japanese increased gradually. On the one hand, it reflected how Shanghai had become an international city with all kinds of immigrants. On the other hand, it also reflected the danger under Japan’s invasion to China.

A British cop in Shanghai said that they fell in love with the city at the first glance, “Shanghai is the best city I’ve ever seen. Any British city is 100 years far behind it – I’m not exaggerating at all. Shanghai is a very unique metropolitan, the most beautiful city in the Far East. The city is all lighted up at night, just like during festivals. Symphonies perform at the coast. Springs and trees are everywhere. The city is equipped with very good public transportation system and everyone seems to have the latest America car.”

Comparing to the colonized Hong Kong, foreigners enjoyed even more advantages in Shanghai with more freedom. Foreigners in Shanghai enjoy extra-territory rights within the International Settlement. Taxpayers’ conference is in real charge. The administrative bureaus are not responsible for the British government, but for taxpayers, which all made foreigners like Shanghai. Many foreigners loved to live and work in Shanghai and they missed the city even after leaving.

The history of Changning’s foreign affairs could be traced back as early as to the Tang Dynasty. After the establishment of Shanghai, Changning has always been one of the gathering places and a major residential and entertainment zone for foreigners. Between the establishments of Shanghai in 1845 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, lots of rich foreigners resided in Changning and formed a unique cultural and residential circle there.

As Shanghai was revolutionized, the half-colonial and half-feudal foreign community in Shanghai also entered its last stage.

In June 1949, there were 32,049 foreigners of more than 50 nationalities in Shanghai. Many foreign countries had more than 1,000 citizens in Shanghai – 3,905 British, 2,547 Americans, 1,442 French, and 1,832 Portuguese. When Shanghai was just revolutionized, lots of British and Americans left the border. In November 1950, there were only 5,689 foreign households with 11,939 foreigners in Shanghai who followed the registration procedures in “Registration for Foreigners in Shanghai”, released by Shanghai Municipal Police Bureau.

These foreigners still belonged to 50 nations, among which the most were from former Soviet Union with 3,128 residents (mostly moved to Shanghai after the October Revolution in Russia and got nationality of former Soviet Union in 1946, including their partners and descendents). Then there were 1,315 British and 1,128 Portuguese. The numbers of foreign residents from France, Germany and Japan were all around five to six hundreds, totaling to 1,512. And there were 236 American residents. The number of foreign residents from Korea, Vietnam, Czech Slovak, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Hungary was 681, with 358 Koreans. And there were 1,379 foreign residents with no certain nationalities, among which 1,001 were Russians who had not obtained former Soviet Union nationality.

At that time, there were 129 employees and their family members from former foreign consulates in Shanghai, more than 600 capitalists, managers of companies, and store owners, more than 2,000 people with various kinds of jobs (including workers, clerk, technicians, freelancers, independent labors, and sailors, etc.), and more than 700 religious personnel. About two to three thousands of foreigners had no job or illegal jobs. There were more than 3,700 women and kids, 904 students (36 in universities, more than 400 in middle schools and more than 400 in primary schools).

Among the 31 districts in Shanghai, 27 had foreign residents. Changshu district had 2,767 foreigners, the largest number among all districts; Jiangwan district had only 2, the smallest number among all. Some richer foreigners had houses at Xinjing district. Foreigners in Huangpu district were mostly in industrial or commercial fields. Foreigners in Xujiahui district were mostly religious personnel. Poorer foreigners lived in Lujiawan district, where many cafes, clubs and prostitution houses for foreigners could be found. Foreigners with no jobs gathered in Tilanqiao district and international refugee organizations from the United Nation once set up a “Shelter for International Refugees”.

After Shanghai was revolutionized, most British and Americans left Shanghai. America and some other nations forbade trading and transportation from China, which made it impossible for foreign companies to continue in Shanghai. As Shanghai was transformed, the special conditions for foreigners gradually disappeared. Meanwhile, in June 1949, Shanghai Municipal Police Bureau started accepting foreigners’ applications to leave the border. Foreigners applying to leave were all approved unless they had ongoing civil or criminal cases. Between the second half of 1949 and 1953, 15,338 foreigners left Shanghai.

The Origin of Western Education

The Changning district before 1949 was not only a casual entertainment area for celebrities, but also the origin of Western education. It was an important place for Western culture in Shanghai. At that time, the area was filled with many top religious universities, Western hospitals, schools, schools for women and schools for the blind, a pioneering place in Shanghai.

Episcopal Church in the United States of America bought land at today’s East China University of Political Science and Law (around Zhongshan Park) and founded St. John’s College as early as July 15th, 1879. The college was registered in America in 1906.

In 1880, the doctor from Episcopal Church in the United States of America to China Henry William Boone founded Tongren hospital, on the basis of the St. Luke Hospital. It is one of the earliest hospitals in Shanghai. In 1923, St. Mary Girl’s School was founded in Bailinan Road (today’s Changning Road). It is the second girl’s school founded by foreign missionaries in early Shanghai and is intended to accept Christian girls. In 1922, American missionary Miller and some others founded the American Seventh Day Adventist Shanghai Health Care Center at today’s 1713, Hami Road.

Foreigners also developed the social and welfare service in Changning district. For example, British missionary John Fryer and his son founded Shanghai School for the Blind in 1928. They bought 26 acres of land at today’s 1850 Hongqiao Road and the school was officially open in December 1931. The Fryer’s also contributed to the education for the blind in China on the basis of founding the school.

The Services Offered in Changning District

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Shanghai Jin Mao Tower Ticket Booking Service   Shanghai World Financial Center Ticket Booking Service   Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower Ticket Booking Service
Huangpu River Cruise Ticket Booking   Shanghai Airport Transfer Service   Shanghai Transfer Service

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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