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Sunday, August 27, 2006 

Shanghai in the mid-1980s

Flipping through Shanghai: Crucible of Modern China by Dr. Peh T’i Wei, I found the concluding paragraphs in her book quite interesting:

Today, in the mid-1980s, almost forty years since liberation, what are some of the major concerns of Shanghai?

As the People's Republic adopts programmes for intense modernization, Shanghai is in danger of losting its traditional role as the economic and industrial centre of China. In development, it lags behind Beijing (Peking), Chongqing (Chungking), Guangzhou (Canton), and Shenzhen, a new Special Economic Zone immediately north of Hong Kong. In 1985, a new mayor was appointed to carry out the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1986-90) for Shanghai. Major Jiang Zemin is a 59-year old Soviet-trained electrical engineer, with a command of several foreign languages. His lack of experience in municipal admistration was not considered a handicap in view of his technical and linguistic background. Jiang's appointment has been viewed by observers outside China as an attempt to attact foreign captial to Shanghai.

Jiang's predecessor, Mayor Wang Tao-han, in an interview published in the Pai Shing Semi-Monthly (June 1985) revealed that, from the official perspective, two major problems demand immediate resolution: shortages in housing and transportation facilities. Objective observers agree.

Remarkable how Shanghai addressed all its major problems in less than two decades.

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