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SHANGHAI Paris of the East
Source: Manila Bulletin
Date: 0000-00-00
NO city in China has ever fully embraced technology and modernity more than Shanghai. From the way it looks today, a tourist is likely to get an illusion that he is in a city in Europe and not in Communist China. Shanghai exudes a cosmopolitan character marked by contemporary urban living, skyscrapers of European architecture, bustling financial and industrial districts, one of the busiest ports in the region and ultra-chic commercial centers like hotels, museums, and shopping malls.

While Beijing remains the capital, the center of politics, culture, information and the academe, Shanghai is known to the world as China’s financial center and a progressive enterprising city.

Once a small sleepy fishing village in the 1800s, Shanghai has already transformed into the most glamorous, decadent and cultured city in China and all of Asia in the early 20th century, earning for it the reputation "Paris of the East."

This image was further reinforced after the Chinese were defeated by the British armies during the opium wars. Britain, France and the US laid their claim on Shanghai, declaring it a treaty port along with other advantageous ports in China. The sleepy village was then transformed into a city of foreign influences as these western powers took up autonomous concession zones in the city, each of which was independent of Chinese law. Soon it became an important industrial center and trading port in China, drawing more tourists and businessmen. All these time when fame as a modern city grew and further evolved, the wealthy became richer and the poor got poorer. A revolution occurred in China resulting to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the rise of a new Republic of China with Sun Yat-Sen as president. In 1921, the Communist Party was formed in Shanghai by its leaders who adopted the Marxism ideology.

This led to power struggles by Communists and the Nationalists and finally to a Communist rule by Mao Ze Dong. It was here when the cosmopolitan image of Shanghai was forced to end.

In 1979, Shanghai benefitted from reforms initiated by Deng Xiao Peng. And by 1990, Shanghai was again on the road to prosperity, prompting China to choose Shanghai to drive its economic progress. It responded with a booming construction industry, increased private businesses, larger incomes and growing foreign investments.

Today, Shanghai has become the hotspot of modern China. It offers one of the most industrialized bases in the country. Its resurgence in economic prosperity can be seen from the rapid developments in the city. Pudong New Area, for one is a sleepy farmland-turned highend commercial district. Dubbed as the "New York of China," Pudong is home to city’s newest international airport, highrise buildings and a bustling urban area. Meanwhile, the skyline of Shanghai along the Hungpu River, more popularly known as the Bund tourist area is dominated by buildings of European architecture. The current French concession area, on the other hand, is the chic section of town where the famous shopping street Huai Hai Road is located. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, cafés and boutiques. Many of its old buildings are being torn down in favor of glossy department stores, and skycrapers.

Already bursting with developments city-wide, Shanghai is yet up for another round of facelifts and new developments as it prepares to host International World’s Fair and Exposition in 2010. The world’s third biggest event next to the Olympics and the World Cup. Expo 2010 is expected to further propel Shanghai into greater heights, generate millions of dollars of investment and bring in at least 70 million tourists.

Although basking in modernity, Shanghai boasts of preserved historical sites such as the former residence of Dr. Sun Yatsen in XiangShan Road and other revolutionary heroes.

Shanghai is a tourist haven offering various attractions from museums, cultural shops, lush gardens and parks, ultra-modern shopping malls and flea markets, scenic buildings, stylish and traditional restaurants offering great Chinese and international cuisine.

Also called Hu or Shen, Shanghai is located in the middle of China’s east coastline. It is one of the country’s largest cities with a population of 20 million. From Manila, Shanghai is accessible via air and sea. By plane, it is about two hours and 40 minutes from Manila.

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