It's one of the world's most dynamic cities and has been for a long time .
The Europeans identified Shanghai as the place to do business and
dominate China when the country was weak. It was a stronghold of the
Mao Zedong communists in the early days of the revolution. Its present
ambition is to surpass Singapore and Hong Kong and become the
leading financial centre of the region. Shanghai is an interesting and
The city is growing at a prodigious rate. Take a train to the outskirts and
you will pass vast housing developments . People are streaming in from
China's interior to join in the prosperity. Some are coming as "guest workers"
and living in dormitories. Many are coming to settle and put down roots.
Old residential areas in the centre are being ripped down to make way for
luxury high-rise apartments. We spoke to a young lady whose family home
was recently placed under a compulsory purchase order by the Shanghai
administration. Like others before them, they would receive a luxury
apartment in return. Her parents planned to lease the apartment and live off
the rental income.
Their experience contrasted with that of people we met in Chongqing.
There the authorities were requisitioning land needed to house people
displaced by the Three Gorges Dam. Owners were complaining bitterly that
they were being swindled.
There is a lot of history in Shanghai. Among its ancient buildings are the
Longhua Pagoda, Jade Buddha Temple and the tomb of Lu Xun. Qiboa
Ancient Town and Zhujajiao Water Town are well worth a visit. I've heard
both criticised as "theme parks" . That may be true but it doesn't prevent them
from being very good theme parks.
The Nanjing Road and Huaihai Road are famous for their fashion houses
and restaurants. Walk down the former and you will get to The Bund. The
latter leads to the former "French Concession".
The Bund is where the Europeans and Americans had their business
houses. Today the buildings fly the Chinese flag. Interestingly, you do not
see the flag flown much in China. Nor do you see many statues of political