Shanghainese people

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A Shanghainese man and woman on a wheel barrow, pre-1898.
Total population
approximately 20,000,000
Regions with significant populations
China China 14,000,000 people
Hong Kong Hong Kong As part of Mainlander population
Taiwan Republic of China (on Taiwan) As part of Mainlander population
United States United States As part of Chinese American population
Australia Australia As part of Chinese Australian population
Singapore Singapore As part of Chinese Singaporean population
Shanghainese language and other Taihu Wu dialects (parent tongues), Standard Mandarin, Standard Cantonese (by those residing in Hong Kong) and English (those who live in the Overseas Chinese diaspora population)
Predominantly Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese folk religions (including Taoism, Confucianism, ancestral worship and others), with many non religious. Minority: Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Wuyue people, Ningbo people, other Han Chinese

The Shanghainese (Chinese上海人, Shanghainese: Zaanhening, [zɑ̃.hé.ɲɪɲ]; p Shànghǎirén) are the native peoples of the City of Shanghai.

The Old City of Shanghai was a minor settlement until the later Qing Dynasty and many districts of the present municipality of Shanghai originally had separate identities, including separate dialects of Taihu Wu. In recent decades, millions of Chinese have moved to the city, both as internal immigrants and as migrant workers. The 2010 Chinese census found 9 million of Shanghai's 23 million residents (almost 40%) were migrants without a Shanghai hukou, triple the number from the year 2000 census. These "New Shanghainese" (上海人) are generally distinguished from the Shanghainese proper.


Group of men at dinner. Shanghai, China, 1874.

The term "Shanghainese" may thus apply to several different groups of varying exclusivity. Legally, it refers to those holding a hukou for one of the local governments in the municipality of Shanghai. Culturally, it most often means those who consider Shanghai to be their home city, although this is sometimes restricted to those in the central districts or who speak the Shanghainese dialects of those districts (as opposed, for example, to the mutually unintelligible sub-dialects in Jinshan).

Shanghainese diaspora[edit]

Although Shanghai was long a cosmopolitan city as one of Qing Dynasty's treaty ports, it was not connected with the large-scale emigration seen in Fujian and Guangdong. Maritime commerce did, however, create a Shanghainese community in Hong Kong.[1][2] These Shanghainese or their forebears fled Mainland China prior to its occupation by the Communists in 1949. Some actors on the TVB network, a television network based in Hong Kong, are originally from Shanghai, such as Liza Wang, Tracy Ip and Natalie Tong.

More recently, appreciable numbers of Shanghainese have migrated to other countries. There is a significant Shanghainese community in Sydney, Australia, particularly the suburbs of Ashfield and Burwood. Less prominent communities exist in the Chinatowns of other large metropolitan areas such as New York and Los Angeles in the United States.

Unlike many immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong, who predominantly occupy Chinatowns due to visible struggles with assimilation, many Shanghainese immigrants tend to integrate more successfully into society due to their tendency to have higher educational and socioeconomic statuses and international exposure than their counterparts from Fujian and Guangdong. Many Shanghainese tend to view Chinatowns as a humiliation and a symbol of integration failures. Because of this, they tend to try and distance themselves from them, with the exception of commerce, dining and leisure.[3][4]

Notable people[edit]

Shanghai City is home to many outstanding and well known athletes such as Yao Ming, Liu Xiang, Wang Liqin, Wang Yihan and Ruan Lingyu.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Burton, Sandra (1999-09-27), "Exodus of the Business Class", Time, retrieved 2011-10-06 
  2. ^ Goodstadt 2010, p. 208
  3. ^ Personal first-hand interview with Shanghainese immigrants; one a retired doctor and one a statistician with a Ph.D from Duke
  4. ^ Farrer, James. “‘New Shanghailanders’ or ‘new Shanghainese’: Western Expatriates’ Narratives of Emplacement in Shanghai.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36.8 (2010): 1211–1228. Web.