Shanghai: Political & Economic Reports 1842-1943

ISBN:  (13) 978-184097-210-8     Published: 2008
Extent:  18 volumes, 14,500 pages   Editor: R.L. Jarman
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings
See sample pages: not available


The remarkable and durable institution of the International Settlement allowed the British to report in detail on political and economic matters in Shanghai and China. This collection of primary documents, establishes a comprehensive series of despatches, in the main from the British consul in Shanghai to the British ambassador to China based usually in Peking, but in the 1930s based in Shanghai itself.

The form and extent of communications vary during the period, and include annual reports and trade returns, judicial reviews, despatches on topics of interest and telegrams on urgent matters. After 1920 series of quarterly political reports and six-monthly intelligence summaries are initiated, and some other irregular periodic reports emerge. There is regular information on the government of the Settlement, and reports on the opium trade; there are extended reports, in 1856, on the continuing Taiping Rebellion, and later, reports on the Sino-Japanese war over the control of Korea; from 1901-11 reports include: the Boxer Rebellion; commentary on the French settlement; anti-government conspirators in Shanghai; the Russo-Japanese war; the Shanghai tramway system; the bubonic plague in Shanghai; the Chinese revolution of 1911-12; British intelligence reports on German activities, 1914-18; and in the mid-1920s telegrams reflect the impact of the civil war in China, and report “the Shanghai incident”. The collection of documents ends with the winding up of the Settlement under wartime Japanese occupation, and numerous papers in 1942 carry discussion of this conclusion.


A Short History of the International Settlement at Shanghai: 

In a memorandum thus entitled and written in May 1927, J.T. Pratt of the British Foreign Office summarised the history of the Settlement from 1842 to 1927. We have reproduced the text here to give a general overview of the history of the settlement according to the day. 

Our set of volumes however, continues beyond this closing date by some years and therefore takes in the interesting period in the run-up to the Second World War and the invasion of China by the Japanese. It concludes of course with the “Treaty between His Majesty in respect of the United Kingdom and India and His Excellency the President of the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China for the relinquishment of extra-territorial rights in China”, signed at Chungking on 11th January 1943.
 A Short History of the International Settlement at Shanghai
• Shanghai opened as a treaty port (Treaty of Nanking, 29 August 1842).
• British settlement delimited (29 November 1845).
• Land regulations, 1845; précis of
• Effect of regulations; Questions of jurisdiction.
• Claim to exclusive privileges challenged by the American consul.
• Plan of an International Settlement adopted in lieu of exclusive British settlement.
• Land Regulations of 1854 promulgated.
• Chinese no longer excluded but taxed without representation.
• French authorities withdraw assent to new code and develop separate administration in the French settlement.
• Regulations found to be inadequate and validity doubted.
• Revision of Land regulations.
• Mr Bruce’s despatch of September 8.
• Principles recognised as fundamental but not in fact embodied in regulations.
• Formal grant of American concession, June 25, 1863.
• French promulgate “Réglement d’Organisation municipale” and finally refuse to amalgamate.
• Both codes provisionally sanctioned by Ministers of all the Treaty Powers.
• Sanction of Chinese authorities not asked for.
• Amendments to regulations and bye-laws and extension of settlement in 1899.
• Question of validity of 1869 Regulations; Opinion of Sir J. Fitzstephen.
• Validity of regulations recognised by Chinese authorities, especially in Taotai’s proclamation of 1899.
• Questions of jurisdiction over and taxation of Chinese in Settlement.
• Counter-signature of Chinese warrant executed in the settlement; Origin of the rule.
• Establishment of Mixed Court, 1864, Rules of 1866.
• Mixed Court Rules 1869; Increasing friction culminates in Mixed Court riots of 1905.
• Mixed Court taken over by Consular Body 1911; Rendited January 1, 1927.
• French Mixed Court established 1869.
• Proposal to form Chinese Consultative Committee rejected by ratepayers.
• Opposition to municipal activities beyond settlement boundaries.
• Growing friction with Chapei Municipaity.
• Occupation of Chapei.
• Mixed Court rendition and settlement extension; Negotiations initiated 1913.
• Rendition blocked by American Government 1915.
• China Association object to Mixed Court rendition and settlement extension; Both questions shelved 1916.
• Chinese Advisory Committee formed 1921.
• Chinese renew demand for rendition of Mixed Court in 1922; British propose plan of a Greater Shanghai.
• Owing to objections of America, negotiations delayed until 1924.
• Negotiations delayed by civil war and their character altered by Shanghai incident of May 30, 1925.
• Negotitions on new proposals by Wai-chiao Pu for Mixed Court rendition break down in Peking, but carried to a successful issue in Shanghai despite Italian opposition. Mixed Court returned January 1, 1927.
• Terms of Mixed Court rendition.
• The Mixed Court 1911-1927, some reflections.
• Chinese representation on the council; Further negotiations.
• Shanghai proposal to add three Chinese members to Council acccepted by Central and Provincial Governments.
• Chinese Ratepayers’ Association fail to carry out agreement.
• Civil War, etc, brings negotiations to a standstill.
• Facts and statistics regarding International Settlement.


Shanghai was the most important financial centre in the Far East in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To the study of the historical background to this phenomenon Archive Editions brings the first publication of the integral Political and Economic Reports from British government officials in the International Settlement, Shanghai, during the 101 years of its existence from 1842 to 1943.
It will be seen that these reports, collected from scattered sources and assembled in 18 volumes, provide first-hand records and analysis of political, commercial and social developments throughout the period.

Consistently with the Archive Editions approach to such projects, the contents of these volumes have been researched and organised to form a cohesive resource for historical research. Descriptive tables of contents have been prepared which give a helpful degree of access into the documents. The contents tables provide the original file references to assist historians with further research.


Volume 1:   1842-1846

Volume 2:   1847-1852

Volume 3:   1853-1856

Volume 4:   1857-1862

Volume 5:   1863-1866 

Volume 6:   1867-1873

Volume 7:   1874-1878

Volume 8:   1879-1883

Volume 9:   1884-1893

Volume 10: 1894-1899

Volume 11: 1900-1913

Volume 12: 1914-1920

Volume 13: 1921-1924

Volume 14: 1925-1926

Volume 15: 1927

Volume 16: 1928-1930

Volume 17: 1931-1935

Volume 18: 1936-1943


According to Telegram no. 105 dated 1st June 1925 from Mr Palairet at the British Legation in Peking to the Foreign Office in London: "The Shanghai Incident and its repercussions", the Shanghai Incident appears to have been a disturbance dealt with and finished. However, it proved to be a huge scandal and already by 10th June the British were having to provide a fuller account of events:
“ …The Police of the Settlement – a Force composed of British, Sikh, Japanese, and Chinese

constables under British officers – thereupon arrested some sixty of these youths for contravention of the municipal bye-laws which forbid unauthorised political meetings and agitation, and detained the ringleaders.

Soon after a much more numerous and dangerous mob gathered in the Nanking Road, assaulted some constables – including a British policeman – and attacked the police-station where the arrested students were detained, shouting ‘Kill the foreigner’. After firing over the head of the crowd, the Police were forced to fire on the mob in self-defence, causing 23 casualties of which 7 proved fatal. Order was thereby temporarily restored… the next day rioting was renewed.”.

[Foreign Office memorandum dated 10th June 1925 entitled “The disturbances at Shanghai”: The Shanghai Incident and its repercussions]
By 11 June we read:
“… crowd was unarmed but was very large and was threatening lives of police and attempting to rush police station which was full of arms, to release arrested students. Warning was given before firing.”

[Peking to Foreign Office, dated 11th June 1925, entitled “The Shanghai Incident and its repercussions]


Part of “Plan of the English Settlement at Shangae, surveyed, lithographed and published in 1864-66, by order of The Municipal Council of Shanghae.” [In map pocket at rear of volume 1]