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Shanghai Economy

The only large port of central China not cut off from the interior by mountains, Shanghai is the natural gateway to the Chang basin, one of China’s richest regions. It handles much of the country’s foreign shipping and a large coastal trade. Despite a lack of fuel and raw materials, Shanghai is China’s leading industrial city, with large steelworks, textile mills, and shipbuilding yards; oil-refining, gas-extracting, and diamond-processing operations; and plants making light and heavy machinery, electrical, electronic, and computer equipment, machine tools, turbines, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aircraft, tractors, motor vehicles, plastics, and consumer goods. The city is a major publishing center. Shanghai includes much of the surrounding rural area (over 2,000 sq mi/5,000 sq km), with farms producing the food crops that support the city’s population.

In the 1970s and 80s, Shanghai’s industrial base was shifted to include more light industries in order to reduce pollution. There was much rebuilding and expansion; new factories emerged around the outskirts of the city, and the northwest section was developed as an industrial district. Development in the 1990s concentrated on Pudong, an area formerly dominated by farms and marshland that was designated a special economic development zone. A project to divert much-needed water for the city from the Chang River into the Huangpu was completed in 1996. The 1990s also brought new bridges and tunnels and a subway system.