Shanghai in numbers: China’s Covid lockdowns

The Huangpu River divides the Chinese city of Shanghai between the former colony to the west and the new financial center to the east.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

The latest wave of Covid restrictions in China has forced millions of people – around three times as many as those living in New York – to stay at home and undergo mass virus testing in metropolitan Shanghai.

As Covid cases began to rise in late February, Shanghai tried to control the outbreak with targeted neighborhood shutdowns. But the city, a global center for transport, manufacturing, finance and trade, decided in late March to implement a two-stage lockdown that quickly applied to all neighborhoods, generally forcing people not to leave their apartments.

Most people outside of China know Shanghai is big, but few realize how important it is economically. The following figures indicate the scale of Shanghai as an economic center – and may hint at the cost of the lockdown.



world trade center

Shanghai is located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, one of the two major rivers in China.

According to Bernstein:

  • Shanghai is home to the busiest port in the world, followed by Singapore.
  • Pudong Airport in Shanghai is the third busiest cargo airport in the world, behind Memphis, Tennessee and Hong Kong.

In total, Shanghai accounted for 7.3% of Chinese exports and 14.4% of imports in 2021, according to Citi.

Manufacturing and Enterprise Center

According to Citi, Shanghai is China:

  • Most important semiconductor manufacturing center, headquarters of SMIC, Hua Hong and Universal Scientific Industrial.
  • Home to many car manufacturers: SAIC Motor, SAIC’s joint ventures with Volkswagen and GM, Nio, Tesla and Ford.
  • Headquarters or major center of Chinese operations of multinationals: Apple, L’Oreal, Samsung Electronics, P&G, L’Oreal, LVMH, Nike, Panasonic, Philips, Johnson & Johnson and General Electric, among others.
  • Base for shipbuilders: Jiangnan, Zhonghua and Waigaoqiao shipbuilding.


Consumer division

In Shanghai, official figures for 2021 show:

  • Average disposable income of 78,027 yuan ($12,288), more than double the national average of 35,128 yuan ($5,531).
  • Average consumer spending of 48,879 yuan, also twice the national average of 24,100 yuan.

US wholesale chain Costco chose Shanghai for its first store in mainland China in 2019.

And as of last year, Shanghai had the most cafes in the country, with nearly 3 stores per 10,000 people, compared to a ratio of about 2 for Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing, according to Meituan.

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Shanghai is home to three of China’s top 20 universities, according to US News and World Report.

The number of foreigners living in Shanghai fell to 163,954 in 2020, down 21% from a decade earlier, according to official censuses. The southern province of Guangdong is now home to the largest number of foreigners in China, with more than 400,000.

The total number of foreigners in the country has increased over these 10 years by about 40% to reach 1.4 million people, or about 0.1% of the Chinese population.

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