The Early Bird

A: A friend of mine fromShanghaitold me that a lot of Shanghainese parents will say to their children, “If you study hard and get into a good university, one day you can be an agent.” Is the profession of “agent” really that attractive?

B: An agent is the middleman between foreign companies and Chinese commercial activities.The salary is high and there are good bonuses and you need not be an investor. It’s a low-rish occupation, but the most important thing si , if you work with foreign companies you can learn how they operate and use this knowledge in the future.

A: I guess that’s a really wise choice for a career path. I’ve seen a lot of my Shanghainese friends promoted from entry-level work in foreign companies to the position of first representative.

B: There’s an old saying,”The early bird gets the worm.” Shanghainese have known for more than a hundred years that a job in a foreign company equaled a hign salary. A high salary means a foreign-style house and living a much more comfortable life than the average Chinese.

A: A hundred years ago, most Chinese were working as sharecroppers for landlords!

B: Even then, the people ofShanghaihad realized that the rules governing a mdern industrial society were set by Westerners. If the Chinese wanted to succeed they had to learn the Western languages, master the Westerner’s skills and adjust to the different ways of thinking. By playing the game as well as the Westerners, the locals knew that any old fart could become a Rcokefeller.

A: Do you know of any examples?

B: One example is Charles Soong, the father of the Soong Sisters. Charles Soong was born in HainanIslandto a poor peasant family. He spent his youth in America, where he was baptized into the Christian church.He returned to Chinaas a missionary, but at the same time became rich serving as an agent for foreign companies. From a young age, Soong’s three daughters were educated in Americaand eventually graduated from American universities.They each independently, married one of China’s most influential men. The Soong family became one of the most powerful forces in China’s politics and economy during the first half of the 20th century. They are regarded as oneChina’s Four Big Families.

A: The early bird really does get the worm! No wonderShanghaihas become the economic, commercial and financial center of modernChina.

B: But the Shanghainese of today are no longer satisfied with finacial prosperity. A civil movement is already developing that will turnShanghaiinto a site for International fashion and global political assembly.Shanghaiwon the bid to host the 2010 World Expo, another opportunity to show the world what kind of cityShanghaiis .

A:Shanghaiis in the process of creating its own future, following its own dream:Shanghaiis simplyShanghai.

 

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East Meets West

 

A: Upon first seeing the Shanghai Bund, a tourist arriving from mainland China might very well say, ”This reminds me of London and Paris!” And a Westerner who ended up in Yuyuan Bazaar might also be endlessly fascinated by the stalls selling used furniture and embroidered shoes. They might pick up a few old things along the way, dust them off and put them on to fit in better with the city’s Eastern stmosphere.

B: That’sShanghai’s allure: she shows different sides of herself to different people. It’s just like Shanghainese women; to Westerner they embody the mysterious East ,and to Chinese they represent the fashionable West. In sum, the Shanghainese are the best at marking people see what they want to see.

A: Where did they pick that up?

B: It’s just something they know. In the past one hundred years,Shanghaihas attracted people from all overChinaand all over the world. As a result , the Shanghainese have lernt to understand  the wants and needs of all kinds of people. Even thoughShanghaiisn’t one of the main sources of traditional Chinese culture, Western culture is still an imported commodity. The people ofShanghaiunderstand what is needed to make products which both Westerners and Easternsers desire, based on their repective multicultural environments.

A: What kind of products are you talking about?

B: For instance, the traditional Chinese qipao.You’ve seen the movies In the Mood for Love and Lust, Caution, right? Just think how many people went crazy over the qipao worn by the actresses in those movies! During the 1930s Shanghainese tailors altered the loose, long-sleeved dresses worn by the Manchu women of the Qing Dynasty into the form fitting qipao you see today. The qipao hugs the body from head to toe. It has the allure of a traditional Chinese garment, but at the same time it shows off curves and exposes skin , which makes the dress more attractive by Western standards.

A: From what you’re saying, it sounds like the qipao is the kind of dress that would live up to the fantasies of men from anywhere in the world.

B: Exactly. Another example of the semless blend between East and West inShanghaiis the shikumen style of housing. Shikumen style houses are modled after Western houses, but at the same time they are densely packed and affordable to the middle class people ofShanghai. People who may not be rich but still want to live in Western-style houses.

A: It seems like the Shanghainese are really experts at blending cultures!

B: Of course. You can see this by looking at an example from television. A shanghai television station decided to film their own version of Dancing with the Stars. This kind of TV show may be old nes to foreigners, but it was the first time many local Chinese viewers had seen such a thing.

A: The Shanghainese take the good from all cultures and skillfully shape them into a unique ,incomparable ”Shanghai Culture.”

 

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Shanghai Jazz

 

A very popular concert hall of oldShanghaiwas theParamountwith concerts every night, and jazz music being one of the main attractions.Shanghai’s jazz was influenced by a variety of sources including American jazz, the French musician Chanson and the folk ballads ofJiangsuandZhejiangProvinces. The lyrics often touched upon unrequited, secret or untold love. They described the emotions between men and women and the feelings aboutShanghai’s nightlife. The lyricse express the wants and desires ofShanghai’s middle class, who were unwilling to be too decandent and loose. Some representative works areShanghaiin the Night, and Rose ,Rose, I Love You.Shanghaiis home to China’a first jazz group headed by Jimmy King. In 1980, six musicians joined together to form another group, “ The Peace Hotel Old Jazz Band” The average age of the performers today is 72.

 

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China Old Residences

The first shikumen houses were built during the end of the Qing Dynasty, when the upheaval of the time forced the wealthy millionaires of theZhejiang,JiangsuandShanghaiinto the foreign concessions. This style of house was fusion of Western and Chinese styles of architecuture and enjoyed great popularity during 1920s. The Xintiandi district of Shanghai, which is located in the city center onHuaihai Road, has rencently been the site of major urban renewal. It is a district of shikumen style houses that have been converted into tourist attractions, restaurants, shopping centers, entertainment centers and other similare venues.

 

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Saint John’sUniversity

Shanghai’sSaint John’sUniversityis one of the most famous religious Universities in modern China.It was established in 1879 by the American Anglican Bishop ofShanghai, S.J. Schereschewsky. When it was first established, the University only offered instruction in Western Studies, Chinese Studies and theology.By 1896 the University was the only place of higher learning inShanghai, offering instruction in liberal arts, science, medicine, theology and preparatory courses. The school’s motto at first was”Truth and Light”, but later, they added the words of Confucius,”Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.” In 1952 the University was merged with other schools.

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China Domestic train tickets:

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Beijing to Ulan Bator, Mongolia:

K23, hard sleeper: RMB1,510.00(USD233.00)

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K19, Hard Sleeper, RMB4,272.00 (USD659.00)

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Beijing to Pyongyang, North Korea:

K27, Hard Sleeper: RMB 1272.00(USD196.00)

Soft Sleeper: RMB 1754.00(USD271.00)

Beijing to Hanoi, Vietnam:

T5, Soft Sleeper: RMB2354.00(USD363.00)

Beijing to Kowloon, HongKong, China:

T97, hard sleeper, RMB H679.00(USD105.00)

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