With a population of nearly 15 million, Shanghai is China's most
cosmopolitan city and is being transformed into an economic reform
showpiece. Shanghai has hundreds of gleaming skyscrapers, elevated
expressways, suspension bridges and a new subway. Other additions
include a futuristic television tower, an imposing city hall, a
world-class museum, a modern opera house, a new central library and a
state-of-the-art stock exchange. Construction sites dot the landscape.
The burst of economic activity in the 1990's has brought prosperity to
Once known as "the Paris of the Orient," Shanghai has a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences, the result of one hundred years of foreign rule. Although never a colony, Shanghai was divided into concession areas and occupied by several Western powers, including the British and the French. Under foreign administration, Shanghai developed into a commercial port and an international financial center. Shanghai's tree-lined boulevards, its distinctive old mansions (including the U.S. Consulate General), and the grand buildings along the waterfront embankment known as "the Bund," give the city a distinctive look. Shanghai is the government's favorite site for experiments in economic and legal reform. The most ambitious of these is the Pudong model city now under construction on agricultural land across the Huangpu River from the Bund. Pudong will have a financial center, major industrial zones, an international airport and residential areas.