This blog tell about my travels all around the world, discovering islands, lagoons, active volcanoes, cities and meeting people.

21 février 2009


Now I walk in the streets of the French Concession.

I discover here an atmosphere quite different and I understand the reasons, when a guide explained to me the history of the place, that I would return to you, here in a condensed form.
The principle of the foreign concessions in China, and Shanghai in particular, was born in 1843 at the end of the first Opium War.
To briefly explain the context: the British East India Company had ceased its business, it left the field open to independent businessmen. At that time, the Western Countries were buying much more to China than the contrary.
To balance this trend, the Westerners were strongly developing and organizing the opium trade. Then Chinese demand reaching such point , that the country's trade balance was destroyed.
As at that time the monetary system was based on metal (especially silver). The country was beginning to ruin; the economic depression and people drug degradation were gaining the basements of the country.
In response, the Chinese authorities banned the import of opium, which creates the anger of Westerners making their fortune while on the traffic. A military confrontation was sparked in the wake of the destruction of a cargo of opium by the Chinese

Due to their inferiority, the Chinese stopped immediately the fight and signed a treaty allowing the establishment of foreign concessions in the country.


The first concession was therefore, that of Great Britain in 1845. Initially with an area of 199 ha, then extended it until 1899 in the north of Shanghai in association with the American Concession, forming the so-called International Concession.
The French wanted to remain independent of the International Concession, and they agree with the Chinese authorities, granting them in 1849, first 66ha. Successive extensions from the west will lead to cover 1000ha in 1914.

Both concessions would evolve independently and on a complete different way. International Concession was more open to foreigners if their country was represented by a consul, while the French Concession favored its own representatives. Moreover, the geographical location of the two concessions clearly shows a wider opening of the International Concession on the outside with an outlet on the river Hangpu more than eight times greater.

Along the time, and as a result of the foregoing, the International Concession will become an international business center and the French Concession, a residential area instead.
The first signals of an end of foreign concessions came after the First World War. Of course, foreigners had somewhat exceeded the rights granted them by the original treaties.
These deviations were widely used by Japanese propaganda denouncing foreign interference.
During the Japanese occupation of World War II, the concessions found themselves totally isolated and then moved that a serious crisis, the French authorities in 1943 decided to waive their rights to the concession.
During the Maoist period, Shanghai who kept the image of a capitalist cradle was put under the extinguisher and it is only since the opening of China in the Western world in the 1980s, Shanghai has taken over some management autonomy and a place in the country's economic life. It followed the boom that we know with its huge buildings uninterrupted set up.
There were concerns then that all traces of the past would disappear. But recognizing that this led to total destruction of the memory of Shanghai, the municipality has decided to preserve what remained of that era concessions. In particular, the French concession, where residential beautiful homes were still there.


Today a vast rehabilitation program is undertaken. Shanghai is reclaiming its past. The French concession has become a place of residence wanted by the rich Shanghainese.


With its small buildings, pavilions, shops and restaurants in the streets lined with plane trees there is an atmosphere which we are familiar with and along the way, I find myself imagining the life of yesteryear in these streets or Joffre Lafayette, today renamed.




Finally we feel proud to discover 10000KM away from our home, a small territory with French atmosphere, getting a chance, thanks to the local Chinese authorities, to withstand to pressure of the modern urbanism. Like the small “Asterix Village” in the country of Celestial Dragon!!!!!


Posté par seafire44 à 17:32 - Asia - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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