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Historical Timeline

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

 

Shanghai Timeline

 

 

A slightly random overview of Shanghai's history (and related Chinese history) from the 19th century to the end of the 1920s.

 

 

 


 

After The First Opium War

 

After China’s defeat at the hands of the British in the First Opium War (1839-42), the Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29th August 1842, formed the basis for the country’s relations with the West for almost a century. Under the treaty, China agreed to cede Hong Kong Island (together with some small nearby islands) to the British Empire in perpetuity, and open the treaty ports of Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo and Shanghai for foreign trade. Also, Great Britain received 21 million ounces of silver in compensation, fixed tariffs, extraterritoriality for British citizens on Chinese soil and Most Favoured Nation status.

 

China also allowed British missionaries into the interior of China for the first time, and allowed British merchants to establish "spheres of influence" in and around British ports. The treaty left several unsettled issues, particularly that of the status of the opium trade with China. The US and other powers soon took advantage of the war, receiving Most Favoured Nation status. The Chinese government hoped to improve their situation by playing one Western nation off against the other. The ease with which the British forces had defeated the Chinese armies had seriously affected the Qing Dynasty's prestige.

 

Issues such as opium, the coolie trade and the general humiliation over China’s defeat continued to cause unrest in China. In the American and French treaties, a provision had been made for the treaties to be revised in twelve years’ time. As the date approached, Great Britain demanded a review – they wanted to add more concessions – one of the most important was the right to navigate the Yangtze River. The Chinese refused to negotiate. Tensions rose.

 


The Canton System (in effect from 1760 to 1842) was China's policy to control trade within the country. Despite Chinese efforts to keep European traders and citizens within the area of Macao, European trade spread throughout China. The Canton System limited the ports to which foreign merchants could bring in goods to China. It also forbade any direct trading between foreign merchants and Chinese civilians; instead, the foreign merchants had to trade with authorised Chinese merchants, who then would sell those goods to the Chinese people. The selling of opium mollified British resentment for the Canton System, and it remained intact until the Opium Wars, which established "treaty ports" in accordance with the Treaty of Nanking, which were ruled not by Chinese laws but rather the laws of the specific country that controlled each port.


The Second Opium War

 

In 1856, a Chinese ship under British registration, the Arrow, was boarded by the Chinese, who claimed the vessel was harbouring pirates. Twelve crewmen were taken prisoner and the British flag taken down. Britain demanded an apology and the release of the sailors. The men were returned, but Viceroy Yeh Ming Chien refused to apologise. The Royal Navy bombarded the Canton forts and Yeh called upon China to crush the British and their American allies, who had bombarded Canton city. It didn’t happen. In the Second Opium War (or Arrow War, 1856-58), Britain had the support of the French, who were angered by the torture and killing of a French missionary in Kuangsi province. The crushing Western victory brought demands for settlement in Peking. Britain and France were joined in their demands by an opportunistic US and Russia. The emperor told the Chinese negotiators to deal with them in Canton. The Western powers refused this arrangement and an expedition started towards the capital.

 

The Anglo-French force took Shanghai and then moved to the port of Tientsin, very close to Peking. Once the port was captured, negotiations took place, with all four nations signing a treaty in June 1858. However, this did not end the hostilities. Problems arose when the treaty was to be ratified in Peking – for example, the American minister John E. Ward left the capital rather than perform the kowtow to the emperor. In 1860, in retaliation for the kidnapping, torture and murder of almost twenty Western prisoners, including two British envoys and a journalist for the Times, an Anglo-French force burned the Imperial Summer Palace to the ground.

 

Britain, France, Russia and the US won the right to establish embassies in Peking (then a closed city), and citizens of the four nations could now travel anywhere in the interior of China, under the protection of extraterritoriality. Ten more ports were opened for foreign trade, along the coast and up the Yangtze River to Hankow. Foreign ships were permitted to navigate the Yangtze. Opium was legalized, and freedom of religion was established in China, allowing foreign missionaries to preach and own land in China. While foreigners could travel in the interior, only missionaries could live there.

 


 

The Taiping Rebellion

 

At the same time as the Arrow War, China was wracked by a domestic uprising called the Taiping Rebellion, a major event in modern Chinese history that cost millions of lives. An uprising of peasants who had converted to their own peculiar brand of Christianity, the rebellion was a mixture of anti-Manchu revolution and religious crusade. At times, the rebels received help from the West, but in the main, Western interests were best served by having a strong central government with whom to make treaties. By the end of the rebellion, Western powers were giving arms, naval support and advice to the Manchus. The aid came with strings attached, in the form of greater influence in China.

The effects of the Taiping Rebellion were very great indeed. The political landscape was changed – the central government was weakened and there was a shift in control of military and political power to the local governments. The rebellion also had an influence on China’s modernization. Many Chinese could see the problems of Western intervention during the Taiping Rebellion and wanted to try to rely on themselves. One of their projects was the modernization of the army and navy.

 

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, many Chinese were frustrated by their lot, and this frustration often focused on foreigners. Anti-foreign sentiments were a mixture of anti-Christianity, anger over imperialism and resentment of foreign economic domination. China had also experienced a series of natural disasters and the despair over these events did not help matters. Such were the conditions at the time of the Boxer Uprising in 1900.

 

 


 

The Boxer Rebellion

 

Bloodshed in 1900 was brought about by a secret society called the I Ho Ch’uan, or the “Righteous and Harmonious Fists”. In the West, they were known as “the Boxers”.

 

The Boxers began as an anti-Qing secret society and helped in the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1804). By the late 1890s, the society was extremely xenophobic, vowing to kill foreigners and their “collaborators”. The Boxers also claimed to use magic, saying that after one hundred days of work and training with their society, one would be immune to bullets – and after four hundred days, able to fly. As an anti-foreign secret society, the Boxers abjured the use of firearms, preferring swords and lances.

 

The Boxers gained a great deal of favour in the imperial court. The Boxers soon grew powerful, and late in 1899 the movement began to assume menacing proportions. Violent attacks on foreigners and on Chinese Christians occurred, particularly in the provinces of Zhili, Shanxi, and Shandong, in Manchuria and in Inner Mongolia. In those regions, railway building, a visible symbol of the foreigner, was most active; and Chinese Christians, especially Roman Catholics, were most numerous. Also located there were the majority of territorial leaseholds acquired by European powers.

 

In 1900, the dowager empress Tzu Hsi had the leader of the Boxers demonstrate to her his invulnerability to bullets. Tzu Hsi was convinced that the demonstration proved the Boxers’ claims and ordered court attendants to study the I Ho Ch’uan techniques. At least half of the government’s troops joined the Boxers. Meanwhile, Westerners were beginning to feel uneasy as anti-foreign feelings, coupled with the “boxing craze”, spread throughout the areas where they lived. Western diplomats requested guards for their legations in Peking. The Boxers, feeling they had the support of the court, cut the railway line from Peking to Tsientsin. Foreign diplomats thought a massacre was in the offing and called for military assistance. The events of the Boxer Uprising were now set in motion. In June, 1900, the Boxers, some 140,000 strong, occupied Beijing and for eight weeks besieged the foreigners and the Chinese Christians there. They were quickly put down by a coalition of troops from Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States. The entire action took less than two months, but even today the shadow of the Boxers hangs over foreigners living in China, particularly any time large crowds of Chinese gather.

 

The Western powers and Japan agreed not to carry out further partition of China. Nevertheless, China was compelled to pay an indemnity of $333 million, to amend commercial treaties to the advantage of the foreign nations, and to permit the stationing of foreign troops in Peking. The United States used some of its share of the indemnity for scholarships for Chinese students. China emerged from the Boxer Uprising with a greatly increased debt and was, in effect, a subject nation.


 

 

Timeline

 

 

1919

 

Immediately after the end of the War, Shanghai breaks out in a round of festivity, marked by individual and collective extravagance. At the same time, the cost of living rises, as food prices and rents increase markedly. In industry, a worldwide cotton shortage creates a cotton boom, while docks and shipping are also prosperous.

 

 

Spring - The Chinese government purchases from the opium combine all the stocks in Shanghai, consisting of 1200 cases of prepared opium and valued at 25 million taels. They burn all of it in Pudong, in special furnaces. This expensive bonfire does not do much to get rid of opium in Shanghai, as poppy cultivation has restarted in the Chinese provinces. Furthermore, there is an increase of morphine trafficking in the city.

 

 

Around the same time, a Peace Conference is held in Shanghai in an attempt to bring about a reconciliation between the increasingly divided north and south of China. The conference proceedings are stormy and accomplish nothing. Another attempt is made later in the year, with a new northern delegate arriving in Shanghai on September 17th, but the southern representative refuses to meet him, thus bringing negotiations to an end.

 

 

March 6th –Over the course of the next four days, German and Austrian nationals are repatriated, a delayed effect of the Chinese dragging their feet over the Allied Powers’ demands during the War. They insisted on the deportation on the grounds that the Germans might still carry on malicious propaganda. In Shanghai at that time, there are 673 men, 404 women and 383 children of German and Austrian extraction. Doubt remains as to whether it really would have hurt to let the Germans stay.

 

 

April 30th – The Volunteer Fire Brigade is disbanded in favour of a paid Chinese force.

 

 

May 26th – All students at Government and Mission schools in Shanghai go on strike in protest at the reversion of Chinese territory to Japan as a result of the Versailles Conference.

 

 

 

1920

 

 

Another record year for Shanghai, eclipsing 1919, in volume of trade, Customs revenue and tonnage of shipping using the port. However, turmoil within the country means that demand for goods in the interior is low, leading to many importers having closed their doors by the end of the year.

 

 

A census is taken in the International Settlement, showing an increase since 1915. The foreign population is 23,307 and the Chinese 759,839. In the foreign community, the main increase is in the number of Japanese residents.

 

 

September – The Chinese-American Bank is founded with a capital of $10 million.

 

 

November 5th-7th – First joint conference of the British Chambers of Commerce of China and Hong Kong. Sir John Jordan, H.B.M.’s Minister to China, comes from Beijing to preside at the meeting.

 

 

 

1921

 

 

The Far Eastern Olympics are held for the second time, hosted in Shanghai. During the meet, an attempt is made to distribute Bolshevik literature. Some young men are arrested, one of whom was armed with a pistol.

 

 

April 15th – The Municipal Council attempts to pass a bye-law to control the press via licensing. The proposal is that printers and publishers shall register with their Consul if they have one, or the Council if not. Furthermore, no one may publish or distribute printed matter which does not bear the name and address of the printer. The object of the law was to suppress libellous, seditious and Bolshevistic literature. However, the proposal met strong opposition from Chinese residents and various booksellers’ and publishing-related unions, and was not passed.

 

 

May 11th – The Chinese Advisory Committee of the Settlement begins to function, having had its creation approved on October 24th, 1919. The committee has a membership of five, nominated annually by the Chinese population of the Settlement. This nomination is subject to veto by the Consular Body. The nominees must reside in the Settlement for five years immediately preceding nomination, have paid General Municipal rates during that whole period to a certain amount, and may not hold any other office under the Chinese government.

 

 

July 23rd-30th - First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Held in a house at 106 Wangzhi Road in a residential area of the French Concession. The house is the home of Li Hanjun, one of the founders of the CCP.

 

 

November – By invitation, China is represented at the Washington Conference for Armaments Limitation. The real power behind the Chinese delegates at Washington is not the government but Chinese public opinion, created by the student and intellectual class in the Treaty Ports, and especially in Shanghai. First articulated in Beijing in 1919, this is a new factor in international politics. Shanghai is becoming a centre of new political life in China, and of a new national movement.

 

 

 

1922

 

 

March – The distinguished Marshal Joffre visits the French Concession for several days and is entertained lavishly, attracting much attention from the Chinese residents.

 

 

March 28th – An attempt is made on the life of Baron Tanaka as he leaves for Japan. Two Koreans throw a bomb into the crowd on the Customs jetty, but it fails to explode. In their effort to escape, they fire indiscriminately into the crowd so as to prevent pursuit. One of the passengers (a Mrs W.J. Snyder), an Indian watchman and some coolies are struck. Mrs Snyder dies shortly afterwards in hospital.

 

 

October 23rd – Inaugural meeting of the Associated American Chambers of Commerce, comprised of the American Chambers of Commerce from Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing and Hankow.

 

 

November 16th – New Municipal Building opened adjoining the Drill Hall. The area covered by it is 8 mow and it contains 400 offices, capable of accommodating all the departments of the Council

 

 

December 18th (?) – A White Russian fleet of 27 ships under the joint command of Admirals Stark and Bezoire leaves Vladivostok, just ahead of the arriving Bolsheviks. There are some 8,000 people on board. They first take refuge at Gensan, but are asked to leave Japanese waters.

 

 

 

1923

 

 

Desperate for help, Sun Yat-sen finally turns to communist Russia for aid. Lenin sends practised revolutionary Mikhail Borodin, who has experience in Mexico, Chicago and Glasgow. In Beijing, President Li Yuanhong’s government is overthrown in a coup d’état, and he is forced to flee to Tianjin. After the coup, many of the members of parliament flee to Shanghai but are later persuaded to return to Beijing with the aid of extensive bribery.

 

 

During the year an anti-Japanese boycott has serious effects on trade. Students stir up agitation because Japan is unwilling to return Port Arthur and Dairen and still insists on the Twenty-One Demands. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce protest against the interruption of trade and appeal to their government for support.

 

 

Serious charges are brought against two members of the Municipal police force by one Lo Zihua who claims he was subjected to extreme torture in one of the police stations. Although the jury, under Judge Skinner Turner, bring in a verdict of “not guilty”, they add the significant rider that they are sure that “Lo Zihua received his injuries while he was in the hands of the police.”

 

 

Albert Einstein visits Shanghai and gives an address on the theory of “Relativity”.

 

 

May 6th – Bandits derail the famous Blue Express train from Pukow to Tianjin near the southern border of Shandong. They loot the train and kidnap thirty-five foreigners, as well as some Chinese, many of whom are well-known residents of Shanghai. Most are set free in small groups, except for eight who are removed to the hills. It is generally supposed that this is not merely a bandit attack but that the kidnappers are in the employ of a high official anxious to get hold of one of the foreign travellers. Due to the difficulty of picking out the person, they just took all the foreigners prisoner. The eight men are not released until June, Chinese officials having been obliged to agree to a general pardon and enrolment of the bandits in the army.

 

 

June 23rd – After being under construction for two years, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank is formally opened on the Bund.

 

 

September 1st – Large earthquake in Yokohama. Many residents of Shanghai contribute to a relief fund.

 

 

November 11th – With signs of a rupture between the nearby provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu becoming more evident, General Huo Guoliang, chief of the Chinese Shanghai and Wusong constabulary, is assassinated in Yunnan Road, off Avenue Edward VII. General He Fengling, Defence Commissioner of Shanghai and Songjiang and lieutenant of the Zhejiang warlord, immediately appoints a successor. This is much to the chagrin of the Jiangnan warlord, who contends that as Shanghai is in his province, the appointment rests with him.

 

 

November 15th – An explosion takes place in one of the turbines at the Riverside Power Station of the Electricity Department. Three engineers running a test on the turbine are killed – the cause of the accident is never determined.

 

 

 

 

1924

 

 

The opening parts of the year are generally peaceful. However, the latter part of 1924 and the beginning of 1925 is a period of anxiety for residents of the Settlements, because Shanghai city and its environs are fought for as a prize in the war between rival political factions in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The most important event of the year, this war is not due to hostility between the people of the two provinces, but is part of the struggle between the great political parties, the Fengtian and Anfu on one side, the Qili on the other. The peace agreement between the two provinces is breached when two generals take refuge in Zhejiang. Marshall Wu Beifu of the Qili Party, who controlled the Yangzi provinces, demanded they be expelled. When this was not done, he commended the warlord of Jiangsu to take up arms against Zhejiang.

 

 

January 2nd – New buildings for the Shanghai American School opened on Avenue Petain. Eight days later, the corner stone of the new American Club is laid. These events are indicative of the growth of American interests in Shanghai.

 

 

January 7th – Cunard liner “Franconia” arrives just downriver of Shanghai, one of the first pioneers in round the world cruises. At this time, large steamers are still obliged to anchor at Wusong and send up their passengers on launches. Shortly afterwards, owing to harbour improvements and further deepening of the channel, it becomes possible for large ships to come up the Huangpu River and dock off Shanghai. The first large steamer to do so is the ‘Empress of Russia’ of the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company, which tied up on the Pudong side on Saturday, February 9th.

 

 

February 26th – The Japanese freighter Kamagata Maru arrives off the coast near Shanghai. On board is a multimillion-dollar cargo of high quality Turkish opium. Bought by a pool of dealers in January, this cargo came from Constantinople and was intended for Vladivostok, from where it would be shipped into China. However, the captain, having made his own deal with a rival group of smugglers, offloads fifty cases of opium into a waiting junk and takes the profits. The shipment is stored in an underground warehouse at 51 Canton Road. One of the original cartel, Alexander Ezra, hears of the existence of this shipment and informs the International police. The police find nothing at the address but, by tapping on the floor and using crowbars several hundred feet away, discover an elaborate storage depot for opium. The depot includes false walls, secret doors and a warren of tunnels. In the hearing that follows, revelations of the size of the Turkish-Persian opium syndicate shocks the world.

 

 

May 12th – The Union Jack Club is opened on Myburgh Road for the benefit of British Navy personnel in port. It is established and equipped by the Navy and the Shanghai Race Club.

 

 

May 31st – China recognises the Soviet government, which has agreed to give up its claim to extraterritoriality.

 

 

July 24th – The Russian consulate in Shanghai is handed over to the representatives of the Soviet government by the former Consul -General, M. Victor Grosse. There is a strong police presence at the ceremony in case of White Russian demonstrations. The Red flag flies from the top of the consulate.

 

 

September 3rd – War breaks out between Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The conflict involves 120,000 men on each side. Fought mainly for control of Shanghai’s narcotics trade, many people refer to this as the “opium war”.

 

 

September 9th – Due to fighting between Chinese factions Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the Municipal Council declares a state of emergency in the International Settlement. The Volunteer Corps is mobilised and a defensive cordon set up around the Settlement, lest either province’s forces try to move on Shanghai. Naval parties are landed from warships in the harbour.

 

 

October 14th – Hubei troops, which have been reinforcing the Jiangsu army, reach Shanghai North Station and occupy Longhua and the Arsenal. The advance in the latter stages was largely unopposed, as the Zhejiang generals, realising the position their numerically inferior forces were in, secretly left for Japan, leaving their troops to fend for themselves. Discovering their generals’ flight, the soldiers raised the white flag and retired from Shanghai.

 

 

 

1925

 

 

The census taken this year shows marked growth over five years. There are now 29,947 foreigners dwelling within the International Settlement and 810,299 Chinese. The foreign population of the French Concession stands at 7,811 and the Chinese 297,072.

 

 

Work is begun on the new Sassoon Building on the corner of Nanking Road and the Bund. It is later to become the nigh-legendary Cathay Hotel.

 

 

January 11th – Civil war broke out again between Jiangsu and Zhejiang in December 1924. General Sun Quanfang, now warlord of Zhejiang, was forced to take up arms against General Chen Yaosan, who returned from Japan and attempted to take control of his former troops. When General Sun succeeded in taking Songjiang, General Chen was forced to fall back to Shanghai. Just then General Qi Xieyuan came to Shanghai, took control of the Jiangsu troops and joined with General Sun in eliminating General Chen. On January 11th, his troops occupy Longhua and the Jiangnan Arsenal. General Chen’s troops withdraw to the borders of the French Concession where they are disarmed by French volunteers, police and landing parties from the French ships.

 

 

January 13th – Two and a half thousand defeated troops attempt to enter the International Settlement. They are disarmed by a company of volunteers and interned in Jessfield Park, under guard of the Chinese Company of the Volunteer Corps. They are later sent to concentration camps in the Settlement before being deported to Shandong.

 

 

January 28th – Ten thousand Chinese government troops from the north occupy Shanghai and adjoining districts. Protective measures are taken in the Settlement – barricades are erected and a naval detachment is stationed in Jessfield Park to guard the approaches from the west. However, despite the nearby war, life in the Settlement is not affected as much as might be expected. The chief difference is that foreigners tend not to go far beyond the Settlement boundaries.

 

 

March 12th - Death of Sun Yat-sen in Beijing.

 

 

March 26th – Marshal Chiang Kai-shek suddenly appears in Shanghai. He forms a party in opposition to the communists in Hankou and tries to build support from right wing elements of the Guomindang.

 

 

May 30th – Parties of students taking part in anti-Japanese propaganda in the Settlement are incensed when some of them are arrested and taken to Louza police station. Other students follow to the police station and demand that either those detained be released, or that all should be arrested. A crowd soon gathers on Nanking Road, and a clash occurs when the police try to drive them back. Inspector Everson, believing the police may be overpowered, orders his men to fire. Four of the crowd are killed outright and four of the wounded die later of their injuries. In the days following, there are more clashes between police and protesters. The total Chinese casualties connected with the May 30th incident are 24 killed and 36 wounded. News of the incident spreads rapidly through China and strengthens the nationalist and anti-foreign movements. The Chinese residents of Shanghai, in particular, are incensed at the deaths.

 

 

May 31st – Chinese General Chamber of Commerce declares a general strike. Shops are closed and labourers in foreign employ walk out on strike. Strikers total 100,000 in the International Settlement and 15,000 in Pudong.

 

 

June 1st – The Council declares a state of emergency and mobilises the Volunteer Corps. Commandant of the Corps, Colonel W.F.L. Gordon, is appointed commander of all defence forces in Shanghai.

 

 

June 26th – Chinese hongs and shops reopen, but the industrial strike continues. Shipping is still almost at a standstill. The Municipal Council resorts to cutting off electrical power to Chinese-owned mills and factories. This does not ease the situation.

 

 

December 21st – Inspector Everson and Police Commissioner McEuen resign.

 

 

 

1926

 

 

April 15th – The Council declares that henceforth the Chinese will be represented on the Council by three members. This does not actually happen until April 1928.

 

 

May – Having outwitted Borodin to win Sun Yat-sen’s confidence shortly before his death, Chiang Kai-shek emerges as overall military leader of the Nationalists.

 

 

Summer – Northern Expedition against the warlords. The communists under Borodin go to Wuhan, Chiang Kai-shek goes north-eastwards to Nanchang and Shanghai.

 

 

1927

 

 

 

January – With the Nationalists on the move, the Municipal Council orders the Volunteer Corps on the alert. 20,000 troops from America, Europe and Japan (including the largest British force ever sent to the Far East) are deployed. Barbed wire barricades are erected from Station down through Hungjao Road to Siccawei, separating the International Settlement and the French Concession from the Chinese territory. Forty-five warships are stationed on the river.

 

 

Foreign revolutionaries and members of the Third International also begin to pour into Shanghai, including Earl Browder (leader of the American Communist party), the Indian Comintern leader Manabendra Nath Roy and Mikhail Borodin himself. The Third International need to have a success soon. Josef Stalin is growing in power in Russia and opposes Trotsky and the Third International programme. Business experiences a “Red Boom” as revolutionaries discover that their money goes a long way in Shanghai and extraterritoriality means they do not have to hide their politics.

 

 

February 3rd – An earthquake occurs, the sharpest shock felt in Shanghai for some time. There is little damage, as Shanghai is built on a mud flat, which absorbs much fo the earthquake's energy.

 

 

February 19th – Shanghai’s Chinese workers organise a general strike to welcome the approaching Nationalist army. For months now, orators of both pro- and anti-Nationalist sentiment have been vociferously expressing their views to the public. In the Chinese city, warlord Sun’s executioners seize picketers and student propagandists and decapitate them in the street. They then stick the heads on bamboo poles or heap them on platters and carry them through the streets to the next place of execution.

 

 

February 21st – After two days of fighting between insurgents in the Chinese areas and the warlord’s men, the long-expected army does not arrive. Chiang Kai-shek has halted twenty-five miles outside the city. Fear of invasion continues to permeate Shanghai.

 

 

February 25th  – The chairman of the Municipal Council, American Stirling Fessenden, goes to Du Yuesheng’s house in Rue Wagner in the French Concession. There he asks for Du’s help to resolve the crisis. With the French chief of police, and an interpreter there, they get down to business. Du Yuesheng convinces Fessenden that the communists plan to seize the foreign settlements and dig in there to defend themselves against the arriving Guomindang troops. In fact, this story of a split between the communists and Nationalists is a lie, at least at this point in time. The communists view the Nationalists as an army of liberation – it is Du and Chiang Kai-shek who are engineering the split. Du agrees to stop the communists, under two conditions. From the French authorities, he demands five thousand rifles and ammunition. From Fesseden, he demands permission to drive his military trucks through the International Settlement to move supplies and munitions. This has never been granted to any Chinese force before, but Fessenden agrees, subject to approval by the Municipal Council. Fessenden has been completely taken in by the Green Gang leader.

 

 

March 21st – The communist trade unions, now controlling the guilds which form Du Yuesheng’s power base, have decided to seize the Chinese-controlled areas of the city in preparation for reinforcement by Guomindang troops. From noon, some 800,000 workers go on strike. The roads are eerily quiet. Zhou Enlai, running things from a shabby apartment at 29 Rue Lafayette, organises his 5000 communists into cadres of thirty, leading groups of workers and the unemployed. They have 150 guns between them, mostly Mauser pistols. Most have to make do with knives, axes and sticks. The communists take their positions throughout the Chinese sectors of the city. Zhou Enlai and three hundred of his best men take over the police stations, the arsenal, the law courts, the telephone and telegraph buildings and the power stations. Lights go out across the city and telephones stop working. In the International Settlement, all main roads leading into Chinese territory are blockaded with huge spiked gates. Foreigners living in Chinese areas are advised to move into the International Settlement.

 

 

March 22nd – Thousands of Chinese refugees try to get in to the International Settlement. Chinese and Sikh policemen, with a group of foreign volunteers, search everyone and turn many away. The Nationalists arrive but, unexpectedly, join forces with the communists. They quickly take control of Shanghai, except for the International Settlement and the French Concession.

 

 

March 26th – Chiang Kai-shek’s gunboat arrives in Shanghai and moors up at the Bund. Patrick Givens, head of Special Branch, is his first visitor and gives him a special pass that allows him to enter the International Settlement with an armed guard whenever he wants. Despite wanting to move against the communists, he does not think his troops will attack their allies. He begins to woo the business community of Shanghai in an attempt to gain revenue that is not from Russia or Guangzhou and thus controlled by the communists.

 

 

April 9th – Du Yuesheng decides to reassert his authority over the working class – he invites Wang Shouhua, chairman of the Shanghai General Union. Wang arrives without a bodyguard. Two of Du Yuesheng’s bodyguards (Fiery Old Crow and Stars & Stripes) greet him at the door. Without further ado, they bundle Wang into a car and drive out through the Chinese suburbs to a dirt track that ends in a field. There they strangle him and, before he completely expires, tie him up in a sack and bury him. Meanwhile, Stalin tells Trotsky to support Chiang Kai-shek and not to move against him. Trotsky believes that continuing to support Chiang will lead to a fascist dictatorship in China, but is unable to do anything to go against Stalin.

 

 

April 12th – Just before dawn, a bugle call rings out. In reply comes a siren blast from Chiang Kai-shek’s gunboat. Machine gun fire bursts out across the city. Communists across Shanghai awake to find themselves attacked by men wearing white armbands bearing the Chinese character for ‘labour’. They do not understand who is attacking them or why – four hundred communists die in the fighting. The men, under orders form Du Yuesheng, are a motley crew – hijackers, pensioners, bodyguards, masseurs, manicurists, peddlers, waiters and bouncers from bars. All of them hate communism and factory workers. On April 11th they and Chiang’s most trusted troops were given guns, white armbands and orders to kill anyone who had a gun but not an armband.

 

 

April 13th – The communist trade unions announce a general strike in protest at the deaths. A hundred thousand workers march in the rain to Guomindang headquarters. They call for the killings to end and the killers to be punished. Women and children march with them. Machine guns suddenly open fire without warning as the strikers pass by. The troops then charge with bayonets, dragging people out of houses when they try to hide and killing them in the gutter. It takes several hours and the use of eight trucks to clear the street of bodies. In the “White Terror” that ensues in the following three weeks, the Guomindang executes 12,000 alleged communists. Within the year, fifty thousand are put to death or imprisoned. The foreign authorities help out, staging raids and house-to-house searches in their districts, then handing over prisoners to Guomindang military courts. The Municipal Authority promotes Stirling Fessenden to Secretary-General and increase Patrick Givens’ pension. Chiang Kai-shek makes Du Yuesheng the head of his new Bureau of Opium Suppression. This irony is not lost on Shanghai’s inhabitants. Chiang awards both Du and Givens the Order of the Brilliant Jade.

 

 

Parks in the International Settlement are opened to Chinese on the same terms as foreigners.

 

 

 

June 3rd – The British Defence Force put on a display to celebrate the birthday of H.B.M. King George V. The Second Battalion of the Coldstream Guards perform the Trooping of the Colour at the Race Course.

 

 

June 30th – The Beth Aharon synagogue is opened on Museum Road. Its Moorish and Byzantine style architecture is greeted with general acclaim.

 

 

August 16th – A foreign military plane makes a forced landing on the International Race Course in Jiangwan. The Chinese authorities register their displeasure by keeping the plane’s wings. When they refuse to return the wings, the Commander of the British Defence Force, Major-General Sir John Duncan, orders some of the rails on the Shanghai-Hangzhou railway removed. Things are eventually settled amicably, with both wings and rails returned.

 

 

December 14th – the Nationalist Government severs relations with the Soviet Union and orders the closure of Soviet Consulates and commercial agencies in their territory. The Red Flag disappears from the Russian consulate in Shanghai.

 

 

1928

 

 

November – Foreign troops are pulled out of Shanghai. The Americans do not want to antagonise the Nationalists, while the British largely object to the expense of keeping troops there.

 

 

1929

 

 

May 25th – Forced into action by Chinese authorities and others, the Shanghai Municipal Police raid a casino at 151C Bubbling Well Road known as “The Wheel”, rounding up more than two hundred customers, including a dozen consular officials.

 

 

June 12th – The court hearing following the arrests at “The Wheel” represents a turf war between British-owned greyhound gambling resorts and the Latin American and Chinese-owned casinos. The defence counsel, a Mexican called Carlos Garcia, argues that the prosecution want to suppress casinos in order to attract more clients to greyhound racing. He later discovers in a Chinese court that the treaty granting extraterritoriality to Mexican citizens expired at the end of 1928. Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities continue to demand the end of greyhound gambling in the concessions.

 


 

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