mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Goodbye Shanghai?

Citizens of China’s richest city are flocking overseas, and many are headed for the English-speaking world. FT:

Shanghai Overseas Chinese Affairs Office [reports that] 1.02m Chinese with Shanghai residence permits, or Shanghai natives with foreign citizenship, are currently living or studying in 159 countries around the world. That figure is half again what it was in the last report in 2004. Apparently Shanghainese love the US most, with nearly three quarters of overseas Shanghainese in the US, Australia, Japan and Canada.

Other Chinese often view Shanghai citizens as a breed apart. Having the rights to live in Shanghai means that you have more economic opportunity and, usually, a higher living standard than people just about anywhere else in China. For visiting Westerners, Shanghai is urban China at its best, boasting world class architecture, great restaurants representing food traditions from all over China and the world, and more luxury stores than Paris or New York.

But many people who live there see Shanghai as a springboard rather than an endgame. Some leave Shanghai to study abroad; many never come back: “According to the report, 41 percent of Shanghainese currently overseas have acquired overseas citizenship, so they are not coming back anytime soon.”

What this says about the future of China is hard to read. There are plenty of signs that wealthy Chinese want to have the ability to leave quickly, and many have moved some of their money offshore. Fear of another Cultural Revolution or some other kind of upheaval seems to haunt many Chinese of a certain social standing. The cultural and economic gap between the foreign-educated, affluent minority and the rest of the population is dangerously wide, and there are more than a few signs that the privileged minority doesn’t sleep soundly at night.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Mick The Reactionary


    “Goodbye Shanghai?”

    What a strange header.

    Does Mr Mead looks up wikipedia on occasion?

    I know numbers and arithmetic are difficult, especially with numbers higher than 3.
    But still…

    Wiki says Shanghai population was 23 million in 2010.

    If 1.02m Shanghais (sp?) are living or studying abroad and that is half again what it was in 2004, then it means 0.5m increase in 8 years or 1m in 16 years.

    To empty Shanghai will take 23 * 16 = 368 years.

    Mr Mead likely is the only prognosticator in the world who is not afraid to look 400 years in the future. Of course he knows that future 400 years will be 400 repetitions of year 2012.

    Well done, Professor.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service