Cultural IQ In this Issue
1) Future: Your Name is Shanghai
2) Shenzhen, the Northern city in
Fostering Connections, Illuminating Insights 3) Upcoming Event – “China
Update” Webinar series
Issue # 11, April 2010
FUTURE: Your name is Shanghai
Shanghai is attracting universal attention because
of World Expo, which begins on May 1st, 2010.
A city noted for its exotic culture, history, fashion,
economic achievements and its unique urban folk
culture, Shanghai has not missed any opportunity
to show the rest of the world its ambition and
capability of establishing itself as a world‐class
metropolitan centre. Ever since its success of
winning the bid to hold World Expo, it has set a goal
of attracting 70 million visitors. At present, it is said
that more than 20 million tickets have been sold
and it is estimated that 100 million visitors will
A photo of downtown Nanjing Road
The city is investing approximately 3 billion Euros for construction of World Expo stadiums and other facilities.
Shanghai intends to be the world’s leading financial centre by 2020.
There is no doubt that Shanghai has been the driving force of China’s economic development, particularly
during the past 30 years. Today, Shanghai is proud to be home to Jinmao Tower, the world’s fourth tallest
building, more than 10 subway lines with a total of 400 kilometers of metro transportation and the only
Maglev train in use in the world which links Pudong airport with downtown Shanghai.
After the Opium Wars between the Qing Dynasty and the Coalition Forces led by Britain in the 19th century,
the Chinese were forced to sign agreements with Britain, the United States, Germany, France, tsarist Russia,
Japan, Italy and Austria to rent coastal cities, including Shanghai, for trade and commercial development. Very
little was paid by these countries to use areas in Shanghai, Qingdao, Tianjin, etc., to open consulates,
businesses and warehouses. The rental property in Shanghai attracted wealthy Chinese merchants to conduct
business and reside there. In fact, Shanghai was then referred to as the “Adventurer’s Paradise”.
Shanghai is a mixture of East and West, living in perfect
harmony. This is reflected in architecture, life styles,
businesses and in every aspect of life.
Luxury goods and brands are seen in Nanjing Road and
other commercial centers. You feel the energy the
minute you arrive in Shanghai. With a population of
18.8 million, it is a city of passionate energy,
opportunities, fortune, success, and symbolic of China’s
future. The Bund
Aside from the glamour and neon lights, Shanghai remains a
city with a unique folk culture. Its name is often associated
with the qualities of practicality, petty Bourgeoisie, a worship
of western life style, a sense of superiority, sensitivity to the
perception of others and delicate life styles.
Shanghai is a nice place to live. First of all, it’s on the Yangzi
River Estuary. Unlike cities in the northern or southern parts
of China, which are either cold, or dry or hot and humid,
Shanghai enjoys a mild and comfortable climate. The people in Shanghai know how to enjoy the most out of
life even with very limited resources. The city has the most variety of snacks which are tasty and inexpensive.
Shanghai also boasts a cuisine which is closest to Huaiyang, with seafood and vegetables cooked in delicious
and delicate ways.
There is a saying in China which says it all: “To do business in Hong Kong; to make friends in Beijing; and to live
People in Shanghai are often said to have a superiority complex. They have many reasons to feel good about
themselves, not to mention their tremendous economic achievements. Even during the 10‐year Cultural
Revolution when there was very little of anything, Shanghai had the top three commodities which were much
sought after by most Chinese: Seagull wrist watches, Shanghai bicycles, and sewing machines.
Even with limited means, people from Shanghai know how to enjoy life with more color. They don’t want to
associate with other “countrymen”, (“xiangwuning” in the Shanghai dialect). They speak in the Shanghai
dialect, in order to distinguish themselves from other “countrymen”.
I personally think many people from Shanghai are very easy to get along with. I travel to Shanghai frequently
to conduct business. They accept me because I understand and can speak their dialect. What I like the most
about them are their professional ethics and practical attitudes towards work and life. Among all the cities I
travelled to in China, Shanghai is probably the only one in which you don’t need to worry about being over‐
charged in taxi cabs which are clean and the drivers polite and professional. You seldom find a cabbie trying to
drive further than necessary. They seldom complain, unlike those in Beijing. Several years ago I accompanied
my parents to Shanghai during one of my business trips. Since I didn’t have time to go with them to sightsee, I
hired a driver to take them on a one‐day tour to Zhou Zhuang, a beautiful little country town on a river. My
parents still talk about this trip as they were very much impressed by the driver who made every effort to
make their day an enjoyable and memorable one.
Shenzhen, the Northern City in South China
The majority of people living in Shenzhen are immigrants from
the northern part of China. Although only a one hour drive from
Guangzhou and close to Hong Kong, one will not hear
Cantonese but Mandarin everywhere you go, whether at the
street corner or in hotel lobbies.
Originally a small fishing village, the “Open Door Policy” granted
Shenzhen privileged conditions to attract investors. People from
around the world and all parts of China came to do business and
pursue their fortunes. According to the 2000 census, the
population in Shenzhen was 7.1 million, of which 82.7% were
immigrants. The average age was 28.1 years. Shenzhen is a very
young city with lots of vitality and unlimited possibilities.
“Shenzhenese”, not Cantonese
If asked the question “Where are you from?” in Shenzhen, you
get one of two answers: Either they will reveal their origin, or
will say they are Shenzhenese because they love Shenzhen and
Historical reasons made Shenzhen independent from Guangdong Province, although it is geographically part
of it. Many people in Shenzhen believe that Shenzhen reports directly to the central government, rather than
to Guangdong provincial government.
South City, North DNA
Yi Li, a local Guangdong girl, recently was married to a Hebei young man, and they lived with his parents in
Shenzhen. As a girl who grew up in Guangdong, Yi Li prefers rice and light dishes. But she says that her
parents‐in‐law still maintain their northern cooking and eating habits after living more than 10 years in
Shenzhen. They typically have gruel in the morning, steamed stuffed buns for lunch, and jiaozi or dumplings in
the evening. Most people in Shenzhen love pasta not rice, drink rice wine at dinner parties and enjoy watching
China Central Television‘s New Year’s Eve Gala instead of Hong Kong TV channels. They are also extravagant
and rough and bold rather than delicate and of detailed taste.
People in Shenzhen are proud of their wide roads and the magnificent city atmosphere which reminds them of
Shenzhen is still a young city of immigrants which
faces the task of re‐positioning itself in the next 30
A Special Economic Zone of the “Open Door Policy”,
Shenzhen has achieved most of its mission outlined
30 years ago by the Chief Architect Deng Xiaoping.
Confucius has a famous saying,
At 30, I took my stand;
At 40, I no longer had doubts;
At 50, I knew the will of the heavens;
At 60, my ear was attuned;
At 70, I follow all the desires of my heart without
breaking any rule.
What will Shenzhen be like in 10 years? We shall wait and see. Young immigrant to Shenzhen
A Webinar series bringing you and your business closer to China
When: Every other Wednesday 8:00 – 9:30 pm EST.
We’ve had two sessions, and there are two more complimentary sessions before it becomes a
Registration please visit link: http://chinaupdates.weebly.com/
Host: Christine Gao, President of Cultural IQ.
Christine Gao, M.Ed, PCC
Cultural IQ, Fostering Connections, Embracing Diversity