THE SHANGHAI SETTLEMENT
[To the Editor of the SpEc.r.vron.] Sia,—There appears to be a great deal of misunderstanding at home regarding the origin and status of the Shanghai Settlement and Concession. May I briefly explain what the real position is ?
In 1843, when Shanghai was opened to foreign trade, the early traders lived in the Chinese City, for the simple reason there was no other place. After a time the Chinese officials said : " We don't want you living in our city," and forthwith gave a mud flat, bounded on the east by the Whangpo and on the north by the Soochow Creek and on the south by the Yankingpang Creek, and afterwards on the west by the Defence Creek, which was a made boundary, and one square mile inside those boundaries constituted the British Settle- ment. The Americans a little later had a similar Settlement allotted north of the Soochow Creek, and later still the French obtained a piece between the British Settlement and the Chinese City, as a Concession.
In the course of time houses were built and roads were made, but it was found to be very small business running these Settlements separately, consequently the British and Americans combined and gave up their individual title. This was the beginning of what is known as the International Settlement of Shanghai, which is now the largest and most important city and trading centre in Asia. - - The ,French still retain'their title to a Concession.
As time progressed the Chinese traders asked to be allowed to, live in the Foreign Settlement, because it was more con-
venient for business, and, incidentally, cleaner, safer and more comfortable in every-way -than the Chinese City. This condition of things. had matured in a few years after the foreigners took over a mud flat with nothing on it. Later on,the wealthy Chinese bought land and houses in the Foreign Settlements, and had. them registered in a -foreigner's name. At the present time the aggregate amount of Municipal taxes paid by the Chinese in the Settlement is a little greater than that paid by the foreign ratepayers. Some of the Radical Chinese now say, " Give us back the Settlement." The only reply is,'" We cannot giVe back what
you never owned." The mud flat of eighty-three years ago was not a model Settlement with a. Municipal expenditure of Taels 112510,550.00—which is the estimate for 1927. This place has been created and built by foreign enterprise and honesty. As a contrast, one has only to look outside the Settlement at the Native City, Nantao and Chapei, and, not- withstanding that 'our Settlement stands here as a model, the above three places are a disgrace to any modern civilization, And yet these Nationalist enthusiasts want to take over our ready-made city and run it, or destroy it as they breve already destroyed Hankow.
Another point they raise is that Chinese pay taxes and do not have a vote. Quite true ; in the first place, they were permitted to reside in the Settlement because they wanted to, and secondly, in no city or town in China has the ratepayer a vote or voice in municipal government, so the Chinese in our Settlement are in the same position in respect of municipal control as in any of their own cities or towns, but they do have electric light, clean water, clean streets, one of the best- equipped Fire Brigades in the world, which makes for lower insurance rates—and they have better houses and better protection. At the same time, every reasonable foreigner is willing to support the aspirations of the Chinese who honestly want to improve their country, and as soon as they can show an ability to govern they will get the ready-made Settlement cities.
One could go on writing about the Shanghai we are all proud of because there is no other place in the world that has been built, financed, and governed entirely by its own citizens and without a cent of help from any Government.
To meet extraordinary expenditure, debentures are issued and secured by Municipal property ; the interest and sinking fund are provided out of the ordinary income. On December 31st, 1926, the Municipal Assets were Taels 1,108,953.95 in excess of the liabilities.
Is it reasonable that all these results of eighty-three years' labour and honest finance should be handed over to a rabble that has not yet learnt what honesty in public matters really means, and does not understand the most elementary methods of Municipal administration and executive ?
From these few facts you will understand our anxiety at the present time, especially those of us who have spent most of our lives here. I arrived in Shanghai in 1883, forty years after the port was opened, and have lived here forty-three years last November, therefore I can't help being familiar with much that has happened.—I am, Sir, &c., A CORRESPONDENT IN SHANGHAI.