Shanghai, People's Republic of China photo tour
Inspired by the informative North Korea thread, I'm compelled to post a Shanghai photo tour as a comparison between two nominally Communist societies (one isolated and still adamantly against economic reforms, and the other fully embracing the free-market and global economy). The difference today between North Korea and Shanghai is day and night, but it wasn't always so. Still I want to iterate that Shanghai is hardly a perfect society; poverty and corruption still abound in various extents, but it is my opinion and the opinion of I'm sure many that the city (and China as a whole) has gone a long way to improve the overall standard of living and quality of life of its residents in the last 20 years (particularly these last 10).
Shanghai is Mainland China's largest city (it's actually equivalent to a province, and is about the size of Holland) with over 10 million residents in the urban core, 8 million suburban/rural residents and approximately 4 million undocumented residents. For perspective, the municipality of Shanghai has the same population as the entire country of North Korea. The city was originally the most cosmopolitan in Asia (particularly in the 1920s and 1930s) but languished and declined during WWII and the subsequent Mao years. Shanghai was heavily taxed by the Communist central government between 1949 to early 1990s; for four decades it was the only consistent source of revenue for Communist China even during the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In the 1980s, most of Shanghai was still using pre-WWII infrastructure as tax revenues were sent to Beijing without return. Shanghai in the 1980s looked like North Korea today. In 1991, Shanghai was finally granted (under Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms) a lower tax burden and allowed to conduct business with foreign companies. Since 1991, the city has completely retransformed itself and is on its way to becoming a major world financial capital within the next 25 years. Today, 50% of its high school graduates attend college, internet access and mobile phone usage are widespread and at saturation level. The United Nations ranks Shanghai today as having a "high level" of development in its Human Development Index, up from "low" just 20 years ago.
East bank (pudong) side of Shanghai. In 1991, this used to be a gray muddy swamp filled with abandoned warehouses.
Window washer atop a skyscraper in Shanghai. The background is the west bank (puxi) side of Shanghai.
Girl hailing a taxi cab. Taxis, buses and subway are now the most common form of city transportation.
Shanghai band Re-Establishing the Rights of Statues (Re-TROS, 重塑雕像的权利) pose with Live Bar owner, Mr. Sun (老孙).
Nanking punk band The Angry Jerks performs at Harley's in Shanghai.
Condom vending machine in Shanghai
An adult shop in Shanghai. This did not exist 20 years ago.
Shanghai police officers
SUBS concert poster in Shanghai
Suzhou Creek Dragon Boat race in Shanghai
Dragon Boat cadence drummer
Local band performs at the National Day (China's "independence day") Rock Festival in Shanghai
Local band performs at the National Day Rock Festival in Shanghai
German alternative metal band Alev performs at Shuffle in Shanghai.
Faces of Shanghai
Zhongshan Park cosplay
Walking through the park
Jing'an Temple in the middle of downtown Shanghai. The temple dates to the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms era circa 280 AD.
Older parts of city.. these were the ubiquitous soviet-style apartments built during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. They are still everywhere.
Modern apartments in Shanghai
Metro station platform
Metro station platform
Inside the subway car
Inside a mall (Pacific Mall)
Street market in older section of the city
Bus route signs. Shanghai has the world's largest bus system, with over 1000 routes.
Working outside the Grand Theatre (上海大剧院)
Graffiti on Kunming Road.
fire ladder of apartment.
traffic on yan'an road.
Chinese flags atop historic buildings along the Bund.
The Bund, Zhongshan Road
Living under the skyway.
Under the flypass
Rainy day on a typical Shanghai street
Public telephone stands in Shanghai are green.
Chaoyang Road, a cafe and pub/restaurant lined street.
faces of Shanghai, and public restroom sign
On the expressway
little girl and cat
homeless under a bridge
Old shikumen alleys.. as if frozen in time since the 1800s.
More shikumen alleys
Along Suzhou Creek, the industrial river that cuts through Shanghai's industrial districts
Another photo of Suzhou Creek
Pudong (east bank) aerial view. The skyscraper in the middle is China's tallest building.
Another typical street in Shanghai.. Tiantong Road... juxtaposition of the old with the new.
Once a country gets its act together, it does not take long for it to become developed. Shanghai of course is not a complete representation of China today, one ought to see it as a potential model for the rest of the country in the coming decades.