Libmonster ID: U.S.-1248
Author(s) of the publication: A. KHAZANOV

A. KHAZANOV, Doctor of Historical Sciences

At the end of 2007 I happened to be in Shanghai. This is my fifth trip to China, and the last time I was here (including Shanghai) was in 2002.I noticed the big changes that have taken place in these five years. A lot of ultramodern multi-storey buildings have appeared - banks, hotels, supermarkets, government offices. An incredible construction boom. Shanghai has become a city of skyscrapers-in terms of their number, it surpassed both Hong Kong and New York. In general, in Shanghai, gigantomania manifests itself everywhere and in everything - the desire to build the biggest, tallest, most grandiose, to surpass everyone in everything.

On the way to the city, I saw one of the most important sights of Shanghai - Maglev - the world's only super-fast magnetic monorail. Its length is 30 km. Trains run along it at a speed of 431 km per hour. The trip duration is only 7 minutes and 20 seconds. A ticket costs 5 yuan (a little more than 7 yuan in one dollar).

Another attraction that must be shown to all tourists is the Pearl of the East TV tower, which has a spectacular and original architecture and rises almost to the clouds. Its height is 468 m. It is the tallest TV tower in Asia and the third in the world. The elevator can accommodate 50 people. The speed is crazy-7 m per second. Inside it is the most interesting museum of Shanghai history. In 1999, the 88-story Jin Mao Tower was built. Its architecture combines modern elements with the design elements of an ancient Chinese pagoda. It is the fourth tallest skyscraper in the world. At the top is a viewing platform from which you can see the Yangtze River.

Shanghai is the most westernized city in China. At the same time, its charm lies in its cultural and architectural diversity, combining the traditional architecture of a number of its districts and the modern, Western-style skyscrapers on the waterfront along the Huangpu River. Alongside these waterfront skyscrapers, the artfully restored buildings of old Shanghai have also been preserved. Among them stands out the building that housed the Russian-Asian Bank, founded with the participation of shareholders from Russia, China and France back in 1896. This building, reconstructed in the early 20th century, was built in the style of classical French architecture. The two pillars on either side of the main entrance were at that time decorated with statues of human figures, but these columns were broken during the "cultural revolution". In 1926, the bank went bankrupt and was bought by the Central Bank of China, founded by Sun Yat-sen. The central bank also moved into this building. Since April 1994, it has hosted the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

On the streets of the city there are many more cars of various brands. However, there are still quite a large number of cyclists and motorcyclists on specially fenced lanes of roads. Many of them have bandages on their faces to protect them from the flow of air and dust.

There are traffic lights everywhere, but little attention is paid to them. Crowds of people calmly cross the street at a red light. Cars, cyclists, and motorcyclists ride as God wills, often towards each other. Driving a car in Shanghai is extremely difficult. There is also public transport, including the metro (much longer than in Beijing).

Shanghai still has "lichons" - narrow streets (in Beijing they are called "hutongs"), where thousands of Shanghainese live in old houses built of huge bricks.

page 66

already 200-300 years old. Outside, the wall is always blank, with windows and doors facing the courtyard. In these houses, people live crowded, without the most basic amenities: there is no hot water, the toilet is shared in the yard, the stoves are heated with coal briquettes.

* * *

Since 1980, five free economic zones (FEZs) have been established in China one after another. In 1984, 14 coastal cities, including Shanghai, acquired the status of "open cities".

Shanghai is the true economic heart of China. Its GDP is 7% of China's GDP (second only to Hong Kong in this indicator). The city has two airports: Pudong and Hongqiao, the headquarters of local large banks-Shanghai Pudun Development Bank, Bank of Communication, etc.

The most developed industrial area - Pudong is located to the east of the Huangpu River and covers an area of 523 square kilometers. Since 1990, Pudong-the "open area", which gradually turned into a second Hong Kong, has become a kind of huge magnet attracting funds, modern technologies and advanced management experience from abroad. The Shanghai-Volkswagen joint venture, founded in 1985, is successfully operating in Shanghai. It produces 300 thousand cars a year1.

China's rapid economic growth over the past 15 to 20 years is associated with a low starting point. The initial base of ongoing reforms is not strong enough. There are many challenges that China has faced.

First of all, this is a peasant problem. Rural residents did not receive pensions until the recent 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China, and they are not registered in cities. Despite this, since it is very difficult to live in the countryside, many people (especially young people) go to the cities, where they can only get hard and poorly paid jobs - laborers, road construction, garbage collection, etc. These migrants agree to work for a poor salary without any social insurance. Many of them are unemployed. In the streets of Shanghai, like other foreigners, I was constantly harassed by people who insisted on buying watches and other things from them. Women who have come from distant villages pester passers-by, offering, like our gypsies, to tell fortunes on their hands. In some places, beggars sit on the streets (often with children) - this is also probably the result of migration from villages to cities. Another consequence of this migration is that China is now experiencing a sharp increase in crime, despite severe punishments. In general, everyone earns as much as they can.

There are strong social contrasts. Getting a job anywhere, even as a salesperson, in Shanghai is very difficult - you have to go through a competition. Unemployment is also high among the intelligentsia. The average salary of a peasant is $ 50, a salesman and cashier in a state-owned store get $ 300 each, and a university professor gets $ 2,000. 2 At the same time, there are already many millionaires and billionaires in the country.

The streets are a little dark. It is felt that there is a shortage of energy resources in China. This is one of the main obstacles to the rapid economic development of the country. While China is the world's second-largest consumer of energy, its per capita consumption is 40% less than the global average. China's energy efficiency is only 30% of the level of industrial countries reached 20 years ago. So, for heating 1 sq. m. m in winter, Beijing requires 22.4 kg of coal, while in Berlin, if you convert the fuel used there to coal equivalent, it is only 9 kg, although the winter in Beijing is colder than in Berlin. The construction boom that has engulfed China has consumed a huge amount of energy. For example, in skyscrapers made of glass, concrete and steel, air conditioners work all year round, and they consume a lot of electricity. China builds more housing of all types each year than all developed countries combined. Of all new buildings, only 10% -15% meet the established standards of electricity consumption. Therefore, the Chinese government has set a goal to reduce energy consumption in China by 20% during 2006-2010. 3

Increasing food production remains one of the biggest challenges facing China. The experience of the PRC shows that even in the years of the highest yields in 1996 - 1999, when per capita accounted for from 402 to 419 kg of grain, the task of switching to a more diverse diet, including not only rice and legumes, but also meat and fish, was not solved even in cities. Chinese economists ' forecasts show that by 2050, China's grain needs will reach 710 million tons (458 kg per person per year), while grain production will not exceed 650 million tons (419 kg per person per year). Even with such a moderate forecast of growth in grain needs, Chinese economists conclude that China will not be able to meet these needs at the expense of its own resources, and year after year it will turn into the world's largest grain importer, and the agrosphere, in the words of the authors of one of the forecasts, will remain "the most heated problem in the Chinese economy"4.

The Chinese are an extremely hardworking and active people by nature. A Chinese person gets up early in the morning and immediately starts doing something. Work is his life, the meaning of his existence. But a hard worker should also eat normally.

There is a true cult of food in China. The Chinese eat for a long time, eat with pleasure, slurping and smacking their lips, eat so that looking at them, it is impossible not to eat. The Chinese know how to enjoy life. You have to learn to live from them - they have learned some meaning of life unknown to Europeans, they know how to be happy thanks to the simplest and most eternal joys of life. Food in China is a kind of ritual, a sacred rite, and cooking is elevated to the level of high art. They say that to try all the dishes of Chinese cuisine, never repeating yourself, you need to live at least 100 years.

I am deeply convinced that this art, in which the Chinese have achieved true perfection throughout their long history, represents a significant and valuable contribution of the Chinese people to universal culture.

Apparently, it was no coincidence that an international joke was born: happiness is to have a Chinese chef, an English house, an American salary and a Japanese wife. And the misfortune is to have an English chef, a Japanese house, a Chinese salary, and an American wife.


Toecker G. C. 1 Beijing, October-November 2007, p. 17.

2 From the author's conversations with Shanghai residents. It is possible that they were referring to earnings in the most developed eastern provinces.

3 Beijing Review, October 18, 2007, p. 20 - 21.

4 The Chinese economy enters the XXI century (edited by M. L. Titarenko). Moscow, 2004, pp. 45-46.


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