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New Shanghai: The Rocky Rebirth of China's Legendary City / Edition 1

New Shanghai: The Rocky Rebirth of China's Legendary City / Edition 1

by Pamela Yatsko


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780471479154
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/07/2004
Pages: 308
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Pamela Yatsko was the Far Eastern Economic Review’s first Shanghai correspondent and bureau chief since the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949.
She lived in Shanghai with her husband from 1995 to 1998 before moving to Hong Kong and returning to the city frequently. An American from Massachusetts, she received her Bachelor’s Degree from Smith College in 1984 and her Master’s Degree specializing in China Studies and International Economics from the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 1988.
Before joining the Review in 1994, she was the Managing Editor of Hong Kong-based Business China, an Economist Group publication, worked as a freelance journalist in India, and wrote case studies focusing on global strategic alliances for Harvard Business School. She studied Mandarin in the 1980s in Taiwan and at the Hopkins Center in Nanjing, China. She and her husband currently live in Mill Valley, California.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Allure of Shanghai

What makes one fall in love with a particular city? It's under- standable if the object of desire is scenically breathtaking, like Hong Kong, or overflowing with magnificent art works and architecture, like Paris. When the city is none of those things, the allure is more difficult to explain. Before I left the United States in 1994 to take up a position as Shanghai Bureau Chief for the Fan Eastern Economic Review, 1 recall telling friends how I had long dreamed about living in Shanghai. Inevitably their chin would sink into their neck, their nose would crinkle up on one side, and they would ask: "Why?" Although they might have some notion of Shanghai in its legendary 1920s heyday, their incredulity was based mostly on vague impressions of China as a poor country and of students being run over by government tanks in Beijing in 1989. They obviously thought I was a little crazy to leave the tree-lined streets and modern comforts of Cambridge, Massachusetts in exchange for that. Well, maybe I was, but all I could tell them was that ever since I had first visited Shanghai in February of 1986, the city had fascinated ire.

My recollections of that first weeklong visit to China's largest city are somewhat foggy, obscured by time and the dreary winter drizzle that hung stubbornly over Shanghai's low, interminable skyline. Slate-like sheets of water swirled down the Huangpu River which my guidebook told me had turned Shanghai into a thriving port well before 1842

the year the British first expropriated large swathes of Shanghai territory from China's declining Manchu rulers. The grand neoclassical buildings along the waterfront, symbolizing the ensuing 1()() years of foreign domination, had abandoned their white-washed patina for al egalitarian sootiness more in keeping with the ideology of their current Communist Party Occupants. Even tile city's residents had al ashen duality as they shuffled slowly past in dull unisex clothing.

My hotel, a dilapidated western architectural relic catering to penny foreign backpackers like myself, melted seamlessly into this somber skyline, making it barely distinguishable from a distance. The guidebook informed me that before the Chinese Communists kicked the foreigners out of Shanghai in 1949, the building was in fact the elegant Astor House Hotel, a stomping-(11-01ld for well-heeled Europeans. I later learned that the tamed British ballerina Margot Fonteyn stayed there in 1928. In her autobiography, she wrote:

The Aster- House Hotel was the land mark of the white mall in the Far East, like Raffles Hotel in Singapore ... Our rooms w-crc big, sparsely furnished with old-Fashioned wardrobes and dressing tables and only a shall rug or two on the cool stones ... The lobbywas furnished with the heavy mahogany chairs and coffee tables of the period. The Chinese `boys' who served teas and drinks wore white robes, black cotton trousers and black cloth shoes. And always had o fly swat to hand. The place was crowded with jovial Europeans talking loudly and calling "Boy-Bring another round.' Outside the busy streets were thronged with rickshaws.

By the time I got to Shanghai in 1980 at the age of twenty-three, the streets were neither thronged with rickshaws nor busy. Cars were scarce, overcrowded buses clanked along, and the ringing of bicycle bells provided the most memorable sound. China had just started opening up to foreigners again after a 30 year hiatus and the few Europeans around town usually made sure not to call hotel waiters anything but "Comrade." As for the Astor House Hotel's spacious rooms, the renamed hotel rented me a cot in one that had been converted into a dorm moll fitting probably 3(> beds. Having just finished a year studying Mandarin and teaching English 1I1 Taiwan, I was backpacking for three weeks around the Chinese mainland and group rooms were the most I could afford. The clerk charged me roughly the equivalent of US$ a night for the cot. While the price was miniscule by western standards, it was astronomical compared to those I had just encountered it) China's southwestern Guangxi and Yunnan provinces...

Table of Contents



1. Introduction: The Allure of Shanghai.

2. Building the New Shanghai.

3. New York of Asia?

4. The "Haves" and the "Have-nots".

5. Search for a Soul.

6. Return of the Vices.

7. Return of the Foreigners.

8. Made in Shanghai.

9. Conclusion: Waiting for Shanghai.

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