The French Concession

China in the 21st CenturyCreated by Ted Mitchell


Site of the First National Congress of the CCP in the French Concession Area - Shanghai, China
Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in former French Concession in Shanghai

The French Concession Slideshow

The French Concession Photo Gallery (Downloadable Pictures)

The French Concession was established on 6 April 1849, when the French Consul to Shanghai, Charles de Montigny, obtained a proclamation from the Governor (Daotai) of Shanghai, which conceded certain territory for a French settlement.
Its borders were expanded twice, in 1900 and 1914. During the 1920s, the French Concession was developed into the premier residential area of Shanghai. In 1943, during World War II, the government of Vichy France announced that it would give up its concessions in China. The French concessions of Tianjin, Hankou and Guangzhou were handed over to the Wang Jingwei Government on June 5, and the last, the Shanghai French Concession, was handed over to the Wang Jingwei Government on July 30. After the war, neither Vichy France nor Wang's Nationalist Government were universally recognised as legitimate, but the new post-war government of France acknowledged that it was a fait accompli in the Sino-French Accord of February 1946. This accord, signed by Chiang Kaishek's ruling Kuomintang led to Chinese troops pulling out of the northern half of French Indochina in exchange for France relinquishing all its foreign concessions in China as well as the colony of Kwangchowan.
In 1902, the Concession introduced platanes (London Planes) as a roadside tree on Avenue Joffre. Because this tree, now popular as a roadside tree throughout China, was first introduced in the French Concession in Shanghai, it is known in Chinese as the "French Plane".
The French Concession remained largely unchanged in the early decades of Communist rule in China. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, however, largely unregulated re-development of the area has torn apart many neighbourhoods. For example, the London Planes that graced the former Avenue Joffre were removed in the 1990s, only to be later replaced after public outcry. The old French Club building and its gardens, which used to be a sports field in the early days, were gutted and became the base of the high-rise Okura Garden Hotel.
After the 2000s, the government enforced more stringent development and planning controls in this area.