Land Regulations for the Foreign Settlement of Shanghai

Photos of the original copy of the land regulations from the Minutes of the Board of Directors of the Ministry of Industry

The land regulations for the foreign settlement of Shanghai was a document that combines all regulations and bye-laws set up in 1845, 1854 and 1869 for Shanghai. Inside the document, it included 23 land regulations, 14 present land regulations with sundry documents relating thereto, 29 regulations and 42 bye-laws. These regulations not only include how these land can be or cannot be used but also include rules on infrastructure. 

Under the bye-laws section, it included infrastructure, roads, the hygiene of the roads and public spaces, streets, and foot pavements. One of the bye-laws that were interesting and worth to brought up was regulating the owner of the slaughterhouse and wet market need to keep the roads and pedestrian road near them clean, punishment will be given if caught not doing so. From this we can see how the authorities were trying to maintain the law and order of concession and very little thing like hygiene and tidiness of the area will be taken account for.

The regulation also showed how to take the balance between the foreigner and Chinese, respecting the culture of each other. For example, some of the cemeteries of the Chinese were inside the concession before the land was turned into concession. To protect the wish and the right of the family who owns the cemeteries, there is a law regarding such an issue. It stated that the Cemeteries of Chinese should not be removed even rented to the foreigners. From this regulation, we can see how important this document is as it is a tool to prevent tension and argument between foreigners and Chinese, maintain the balance of two sides.

Such document also shows the power and rights between the foreigners and Chinese. Quoted from the document “Any person desiring to rent land or purchase houses from the Chinese proprietors, within the said limits, shall do so in accordance with the provisions laid down in the treaties of foreign powers with China”, we can see that the regulation and the land use was very much base on the treaties sign by both parties in 1845. To ensure the right of both parties. Also, “The annual rent on all lands leased by foreigners, reserved to the Chinese government” also showed that despite the concession was under the right of the foreigners, the Chinese government still receive payment from the foreigners, showing that the Chinese authorities have a certain extent of the power of the concession and such payment provide income to the Chinese authorities. 

However, the downside of legal document like this is that it was unable to provide information on how well these regulations were kept and implement. The regulations always provide an ideal idea of a place but in realities, these rules were unable to show the downside and problems that these regulations brought. 

Source: Land Regulations for the Foreign Settlement of Shanghai: Codes of 1845, 1854 and 1869. S.l.: S.n.



2 Comments on “Land Regulations for the Foreign Settlement of Shanghai

  1. Do you have any scanned version of the land regulations (cover, table of contents or the main body)? It would be better to show this document in addition to your explanation.

    • I have added some photos of the land regulations. I am unable to have first-hand photos as the library not allow me to take any photo of the book. Thank you for the comments!!

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