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Shanghai's uniqueness is attractive

Updated: 2012-12-10 13:56
By Hong Liang ( China Daily)

A Shanghai television station has sparked heated debate on the Internet by broadcasting live interviews with people on Nanjing Road, the city's most popular shopping street, asking them what they like about Shanghai.

Related: Get the most out of Shanghai

Unsurprisingly, many of the people interviewed said that they liked the big city feel of Shanghai. That, of course, includes the modern skyscrapers, glitzy shopping malls and the concentration of multicolored neon signs in the major commercial strips that never fail to dazzle and thrill visitors from lesser cities.

Others said they liked Shanghai for its tolerance and inclusiveness, recalling an old Chinese saying that can be loosely translated to mean: Like the sea taking in the flow of a hundred rivers. However, this has stirred a hot debate, as the common perception is the people of this city are anything but inclusive.

There are those who were more practical and specific in picking their likes and, in some instances, dislikes. Convenience and the relative freedom from hassle by the authorities ranked top of the list of things that made Shanghai the favorite city of many of the people interviewed. Some respondents enthused that they were most impressed by the civility of the Shanghai people.

Although negative comments weren't solicited, a few respondents volunteered their complaints - all mild of course. Chief among those was the high cost of living. One respondent said dryly that Shanghai was great as long as you have a lot of money to spend. Otherwise, he said, it's not so good.

I agree with everything these people have said about Shanghai. And I share their liking for many of the things they mentioned. But I was most surprised that none of them mentioned the thing that I find most charming about Shanghai, where I have lived and worked for more than three years. That is the harmonic fusion of the city's colorful, and, some may say, decadent past with a renewed and almost obsessive drive to achieve greatness as a global center for business, finance, the arts and everything else you can think of.

That drive has made working as a journalist in Shanghai exciting and, at times, rewarding.

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