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CHINA - Shanghai Nights, June 2004

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Synopsis of "Shanghai Nights"

Bright Lights, Big City

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China's Economy, Shanghai, Youth Culture

Arts, Culture, New Generation, Weblogs




Reporter's Slideshow: Bright Lights, Big City
On the prowl with a Shanghai diva

Buildings in downtown Shanghai

History and glory. I keep imagining all the intrigue and decadence in these buildings during the 1930s. Some are sitting empty now, and some are being remodeled to house high-class restaurants and bright galleries. From the rooftops I can look across the river and contemplate the futuristic skyscrapers that represent the new Shanghai.
Communist figurines

History is kitsch; you can't resist these relics, now mass-produced for tourists. Little reverence is accorded to the old revolutionaries and the once-exalted workers. In Shanghai, the new image is all about young, brash entrepreneurs dreaming of a waterside condo and a new Humvee. Revolutions are so 1960s. Many young Shanghainese are even disdainful of the Tiananmen Square uprisings of 1989. Revolutions are stupid, they say. You must change things slowly, slowly.
Hip-hod DJ David

Sweet-faced, fast-talking in Los Angeles hip-hop English, David the DJ is always on the edge of trouble with the cops for his club activities. But he doesn't have the attitude or the anger of American disc-spinners. He's rather earnest. I like his zest -- for music, for life. Like Mian Mian, David is part of an urban generation wishing to emulate the West.
Duc reads Mao

I wonder whether the American military minds in Iraq have started rereading Mao's guerrilla warfare teachings? He certainly knew a thing or two about leading an insurgency. His Little Red Book, all his thoughts and pronouncements, inspired and aroused the masses here -- but Mao's Cultural Revolution ended up being so destructive.

A cold morning. A busy street. China has become a world power in manufacturing. But a few blocks away there is an aging population, people from an older generation simply sitting and waiting for the future to wipe away this old part of town.


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