By Hanchao Lu
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Extra resources for Beyond the Neon Lights: Everyday Shanghai in the Early Twentieth Century
The foreign settlement was at a crossroad. In this regard, the combination of the Small Sword Uprising and Alcock's decision was a turning point in the development of Shanghai. In reality, however, much of the administration of the French Concession duplicated the regulations and practices of the International Settlement. "48 Such views added up to a stereotype, of course, and in any case might have applied more to the upper classes than to working people, but, like many stereotypes, there was some truth to these words.
This placed it under the provincial capital of Nanjing and the prefectural capital of Songjiang, but still accorded it some prominence for its commercial prosperity, based primarily on a booming cotton trade in the Qing period. In that sense, the modern city of Shanghai did spring from obscure rural origins. Although Shanghai had been a busy commercial center prior to its opening to the West, the new dynamic brought by the Westerners meant that traditional commerce, such as the cotton trade, was largely irrelevant to the modern development of Shanghai.
In other words, an underestimation of the Western influence on the city—something that a "China centered" approach could easily lead to—would not only introduce a bias that is opposite on the surface but similar in nature to that of "Western impact," but also prevent us from full appreciation of the tenacity of Chinese traditionalism. One may also add that, in the final analysis, all human societies share something in common; thus a counterparthunting approach is not altogether inappropriate.