Essay about Law and Order in Shanghai in 19th and Early 20th Century

Essay about Law and Order in Shanghai in 19th and Early 20th Century

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Shanghai in the 19th and early 20th century was a unique city. The combination of its status as an entrepôt, the complexity of its society, and the very existence of the International and French concessions all contributed heavily to the difficulty of protecting law and order within the city. The focus here is on the political and civic; the French Concession is not a major object of concern, as it was subject to many of the same vicissitudes and issues as the International Settlement, and differs only slightly in the path it took to handle them. The factors that most heavily influenced the law and order of Shanghai, therefore, were extraterritoriality, the international settlement and its governing body, and the coexisting criminal justice systems.
The International Settlement was founded in 1863. It was the result of the joining of the American and British settlements. The International Settlement was governed by the Municipal Council, founded in 1854, and which was directly responsible for all affairs in the settlement. The document that this group's authority rested upon was called the Land Regulations. It had been drafted by the Shanghai Circuit Court Intendant and the British Consul. They stated that the International Settlement was to have "an executive committee or council." It had nine members, and they were elected by upper class land owning foreigner taxpayers. A provision was made for Chinese members after large-scale strikes and riots were held in the late 1920s, but it was some years before they found their way onto the council. The Council had an extremely wide power base; it could levy taxes, appoint personnel, administer public funds, construct municipal structures, including roads and sewers, enact building...


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... by the International Settlement's Municipal Police, although it worked to their detriment after the May Thirtieth Movement, as the British and other officials connected their stance to that of the anti-imperialists and ultranationalists.
Shanghai's place in history is certainly a grand one. The city endured a century of occupation by over a dozen foreign powers. It was a massive trade center. It was the home of the largest crime syndicate in all of China. It was truly sui generis. One of the most important aspects of its history was that of the imperialist. For most, imperialism represents callous abuse of the native world. For most, this is correct, and Shanghai is no different. However, the role of the imperialist in Shanghai was much broader. Imperialism in Shanghai paved the way for swifter modernization of everything from its street lamps to its police.





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