Shanghai was a city on the east coast (TV: The End of Time) of China. (TV: The Middle Men) A river ran through the city. (TV: The End of Time) It was also known as the Paris of the East and the Whore of China. (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang)
In 1932, Japanese troops were deployed onto the streets Shanghai where they briefly clashed with the Chinese. Some areas were destroyed in air raids launched from the Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho situated off the coast. The city was briefly occupied and numerous Chinese inhabitants interrogated. Western powers, seeking to protect their own trading centres located in Shanghai, intervened and defused the crisis. Ryuji Matsu promised Sung-Chi Li that Shanghai would one day fall to Japan.
Seeking alliances with the Western powers, Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek allowed nations with trade concessions in Shanghai to police their own areas of influence with their own troops. The British used Sikhs to patrol the International Settlement and the French used Vietnamese troops in the French Concession. British, American and Japanese troops all patrolled their own concession as well as the docklands. Chinese people were forbidden from entering the British Public Gardens.
After a military revolt in Tokyo in February 1936, Ishiguro Takashi fled from Japan and eventually came to Shanghai, where he operated as the vigilante, Yan Cheh, while under the guise of Woo, the owner of Club Do-San. Woo sought to crack down on crime in order to create a united front in Shanghai against the Japanese military after war began between Japan and China in July 1937.
When the war started, Shanghai was nearly 400 miles away from the front lines between Manchukuo and Shangdong province. The city periodically suffered air raids by the Japanese "just to prove that they can," according to the Doctor. The Japanese eventually entered Shanghai at some point after August 1937.
In 1941, the Doctor landed in Shanghai, "a couple of centuries" before his arrival in 1937, and encountered some stranded Alpha Centaurans who had come into contact with humans. (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang)
The average life expectancy of those living within a two mile radius from the site of the Blessing was always exactly equal to the current average life expectancy of Earth. In 1998, for example, when the average lifespan of Earth humans was 66 years, 5 months and 33 days, it was exactly the same in Shanghai. In 1898, Earth's average lifespan was 49 years, 9 months and 5 days, as was Shanghai's. (TV: The Blood Line)