With this in mind, perhaps it explains why Shanghai was destined to be a thriving cosmopolitan city, as it is surrounded by the famous Bund River, which served as a gateway for trade in the 1840s. To Westerners, Shanghai was foreseen to have a great potential in becoming a great trading post with its location, which is in close to the tea and silk production regions of Hangzhou and Suzhou. They also had a mad dream for the new Shanghai: “..they would wrest Shanghai from China and build a Western city that just happened to be in the Far East.” (A History of Future Cities, Daniel Brook)
The Westerner’s vision of Shanghai is not a far cry from what is today- a city that boasts majestic, utopian skyscrapers, over 100,000 millionaires and a neon-lit skyline in Pudong, which is now dubbed as the “Wall Street of Asia”. Shanghai is also predicted to be an economic superpower in twenty years.
Yet despite its instantaneous development, I always had the notion that its Oriental culture would remain strong because of its Communist rule. For example, I thought that women were still seen as the weaker link in Shanghai (and China in general). Also, in terms of fashion, they most would still be wearing the traditional cheongsam or qi pao.
However, realizing the ubiquity of Western influence (ie. the presence of Western brands and a growing population of expatriates in Shanghai), many Shanghainese women see themselves as “women of power”, as many women now own businesses in Shanghai and most of them do not carry their husband’s surname (as documented on “Piers Morgan on Shanghai”). Also, in terms of fashion, many of today’s trends are influenced by Westerners and Shanghai is the second largest spender on luxury goods. Chinese women also go through eye surgeries, in the hopes of looking less Oriental as emphasis is placed on looks in modern Shanghai when it comes to job applications.
With Shanghai’s booming economy and the adaptation of a Westernized culture, it seems to be changing the world’s preconceptions of Red China.