Shanghai’s Growth is Slowing Down

No matter how the media reports, I am feeling the development speed of Shanghai is slowing down, from the tiniest things happening around me. Shanghai is still growing, but not at a speed like years before.

When I was in university, especially in the years of 1998, 1999, Shanghai changed so much. New bridges, new shopping malls and office buildings (like those in Xujiahui) and the elevated roads became into being. When I return from a vacation longer than 2 weeks, sometimes only for several days, I will find significant change in the appearance of the city. That was the most exciting part of the city and is among the most exciting memories I had.

However, I don’t feel the excitement when I am back to the city. The basic infrastructure of the city has been built and now the constructions are focused on improve, instead of build. I don’t see something very new when I am back. The city does not change at the speed it did.

The Shanghai’s growth seems to be slowing down.

P.S. F1 ticket

I got the assignment to buy 21 F1 tickets tomorrow for Sept 26, 2004. I am not sure if I can get it now – it seems too late. Even if there are some tickets left, it should be the grass ticket – the area without seats and people have to stand there to watch. Anyway, compared to those who traveled thousands of miles to Shanghai to see the circuit, it is much easier for us to watch it.

17 thoughts on “Shanghai’s Growth is Slowing Down

  1. Hello Mr. Wang,

    I think the major obstacle blocking the development of China is the government unable to protect the personal wealth and list it in the constitution. This explain why most people are reluctant to invest or deposit their wealth in China unless there is distinct advantage. It also explain why no major international corporation would set up their headquater in China.

    To amend the constitution will inevitable in conflict with the existing socialism that rule the country today. China is now facing dilemma and I don’t think they know which path to choose. I wish the wisdom of the government will prevail.

    Slowing down in construction is actually good for shanghai, government should improve the infrastructure that support the city. I think the road network and sewage underground are left untouch in last thirty years, the deficiency as the result have started to show.

    PuDong is actually sinking into the river due to overbuilt, soon it will become another French Quarter of New Orlean which is 8′ below sea level or it will become another Holland who use wind mill to pump water.

    I would like to see Shanghai progress and yet preserve the history of the old, otherwise it will become another concrete forest which eventually become inhabitable.


  2. Hello Wang,

    I am a chinese, I am so excited after seeing the dramatically changes in SH. However,

    that was just some new Roads and Buildings nothing else. Do you really think

    china government really change their ways to handle their people and take care the poor people? No, it just makes the bigger and bigger gap between weathy and poor people.

  3. Slowing down in construction is good for Shanghai. I agree with that, at least it means less dust and dirt. :-)

    I have not been back for almost three years, but I am shocked to see all those concrete jungles that Shanghai has been keeping building up over the years. It shows up in every pictures I find recently, now my high school is surrounded by highrises, some time you feel almost “no way out”, as I felt when I visited Hongkong back then.

    I think Shanghai should not stop building and extending public transportation such as subway and highways, but it should slow down building highrises.

  4. Shanghai has no culture, Shanghai was a bloody colony, and you people are still pround of being a colony!!

  5. I grew up in Shanghai and left there in 1986. Back then the city has zero high-rises, other than the few colonial buildings on the Bund and the “International Hotel” on Najing Rd was considered the tallest building in the city. Well I guess you could argue the old TV tower is higher.

    Jianshuo, do you know if the old TV tower is still there? Since you are not native of Shanghai, you might not know where the old tower was, just ask your native Shanghai friends or co-workers. I went back in 1994, the city was just start to develop, it was so dusty and literally every road was dug up! My old elementary school was gone, to make way for the elevated highway. I went back again in 1996, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The city was transformed so much in a mere 2 yrs. I went back again in 2000, Lujiaziu in Pudong was beginning to look like mini-Manhattan. I haven’t been back since, but I am sure the city has again had a face-lift.

    I like to see more structured planning for the road system. More and more people are going to buy cars. Multi-layered elevated roads is a good choice. Preserving the different Western colonial architectures. Shanghai should also plan a huge park in the middle of the city, like Central Park in NYC. Turn the Suzhou river area into a shopping/entertainment area like the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.

    If the city if run and planned by competent and environmental-aware officials, just imagine what a cosmopolitan city Shanghai will become in 20 yrs!

  6. The basic ‘hardware’ infratructure in Shanghai, at least in downtown area, is more or less in place. That’s why it seems the development is slowing down. However, the ‘software’ (service, people’s manner and so) development will be ongoing, hopefully, fo a long long time.

    To reply R.S., Shaghai does have its own culture which is a unique mixture of East and West culture.

    I think Shanghai people are prowd of their city and who they are. Why shoudln’t they? There is nothing wrong with that.

  7. If you are able to compare a picture of Paris in 80’s versus today, you wont see much different, but it is not the same story for Shanghai, PERIOD! Changing is not always good, though the Communist is aiming to turn Shanghai into one of those metropolitans in the world, Shanghai still has lots of historical buildings and worth preserving for generations. My grandmother used to keep lots of old pictures of Shanghai, and she was able to tell me the story of each building, as a child, Shanghai was a dream for me. I am going to experience the city myself later this year, what I expected to see is Shanghai as Shanghai herself not conversion of Tokyo or NYC.

  8. Mr. Wang,

    I understand China wish to use Shanghai to show the glamorous side of the country, highrises were built indiscriminately on every inch of land they can find in the inner city, but they never intend to width the road, the density of popluation in some area has rised ten folds in ten years without adequate infrastructure, and the buildings are in such close proximity which show lack of city planning.

    Should you visit the world famous concrete forest – New York, you’ll still find trees and green belt across the city, nevertheless, shanghai does not have the same.

    It is in my opinion, Shanghai should suppress the growth of the automobile in the city and develop more public transportations, this will reduce the air pollution and congestion, thus made Shanghai more comfortable to live.

    I can see another problem looming on the horizon, all the highrises built in last ten years will started to show its age after twenty or thirty years later almost simultaneously. I cannot imagine how the city can tackle the situation.


  9. I am quite educated on this conversation. Frankly speaking, I learnt a lot from your comments on how a city should grow. In a country without high buildings, they are symbols of modern technology. Shanghai is a complicated city. It always need improvemennt. The building of parks seem slowing down. In the previous year, with the construction of elevated high road, many new parks were constructed, like Xujiahui Park, Tai Ping Qiao Green Land, Hua Shan Green Land, Yan An Green Land and the Centuary Park. Recently, there is no big parks are added to the land.

  10. Mr. Wang

    My comment is not intend to be offensive, after all, Shanghai is your city. Perhaps we are spoiled by having trees and lawn surrounding my house and fail to imagine the life of the city dweller.

    At any rate, please consider my comment as friendly reminder.


  11. Sure thing, Stephen. I guess we have setup the trust and I am taking every comments on this site (unless it is not meanless spam) as friendly and constructive.. Don’t worry.

  12. The fast improvement in infrastructure in inner city during late 90s is partly a result of decades of infrastructure investment deficiency. Now that most infrastructure is up to date and in place, the speed of building seems to us to slow down. In the official rhetoric, the “debt” has been paid; the focus now is more on software and suburban development.

    But I agree that many tiny and subtle changes have given people a feeling of cooling down…

  13. “I can see another problem looming on the horizon, all the highrises built in last ten years will started to show its age after twenty or thirty years later almost simultaneously. I cannot imagine how the city can tackle the situation.”

    Stephen, I think many major cities are already facing this problem you described. Old buildings can have a face-lift by giving them a more modern looking facade. Facilities inside the buildings are in fact maintained and replaced all the time. I think as long as the buildings remain standing, it’s not a big problem to worry.

  14. Hi Jianshuo

    The F1 is naturally a big scoop for Shanghai, of course, as it is the 1’st time.

    Just as the F1 boat racing last month on Huangpu River at The Bund.

    But it is rather worthless to watch, unless you sit in the best rows at the top of the seat balconies ! And the chance for the same multimillionaire guy (M. Schumacher) to win again is nearly 95 %. He’s good, but a little boring, eh ?

    No, the answer is – see the full race on TV !

    The advantages are abundant – you can see what the driver’s see through the car-mounted cameras, the faults and accidents (if any), and changes in the pit, all served right in front of you ! The action will be served again, in slow motion too.

    Your hearing will be quite normal after (depending on your TV volume settings), drinks, snacks and the pee house are available at hand, without standing in line too.

    You can do it at home, or go to some of the better hotels with big-screens put up for the event.

    Save the ticket money for you and Wendy and spend it on a nice vacation later.

    So I do.

    Anyhow, if the tickets are VERY cheap, send me an email, ok ?! ;-)

  15. >Old buildings can have a face-lift by giving them a more modern looking facade.

    So true, in fact I see a lot more of it happening around Shanghai these days. I have to say, some of the “facelifts” I’ve seen have been pulled off pretty well, to the city’s credit. Some of the more recent “gong fang” (ubiquitous 6-story bunker) face-lifts have been very well done, much more tasteful in color and design than earlier efforts. Hope it lasts …

    Two early ’90s-type “bathroom tile” towers in my neighborhood were recently very nicely re-done — gutted and completely re-clad. The work is wrapping up, it took only about eight months. Huge improvement for the neighborhood.

    I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this. As we hit “tower saturation” the focus of attention will turn to upgrading some of the earlier efforts.

  16. Hello, Shanghai Slim, it would be nice to see some of these “gong fang” or “bathroom tile” tower facelifts. Any chance of your posting a picture somewhere?

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