Shanghai, a port on the East China Sea, is one of the world’s largest seaports, the most populous city in China, and a center of international trade and finance. In the 1800s, voyages from the west were long, daunting, and not appealing for any prospective sailor, so crews would sometimes be filled out by men who had been kidnapped aboard, usually after being plied with drink or drugs. To shanghai someone is to kidnap that person onto a ship (or, more broadly, any unwanted position) and force him or her into unwilling labor, or a situation likened to such a kidnapping:
Five inches longer than the Chrysler Concorde and possessing far more presence, this stylish duo restored Chrysler’s reputation before the automaker was shanghaied in an erroneous merger with Daimler.
— Larry Printz, Tribune News Service, 6 Mar. 2019