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April 2015
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Modern Shanghai: Manhattan comes to the Huangpu

Modern Shanghai © Ludovic Bischoff

To journey through to the past and into the future of Shanghai, turn away from the old art deco buildings on the Bund. From the other side of the Huangpu river is Pudong, the Chinese Manhattan. Just twenty years ago, Pudong consisted of nothing more than a few fields. And no Shanghaiese would every have dreamed of crossing the river. Back then, it was very complicated and only accessible by small boats…Today, several bridges and numerous tunnels link the city-centre and this business district that sees new buildings sprout up every month, adding to the city’s often hazy skyline. The Oriental Pearl Tower, which was built long before the others in 1994, is already an ancestral figure besides the huge skyscrapers that have shot up since. Its 468 metres no longer rule the skies. It is now overshadowed by the World Financial Centre – nicknamed by the Shanghaiese as the “bottle-opener” due to its shape. And it too will soon be eclipsed by a new 600m tower, which is currently under construction. The Pearl Tower consoles itself in the fact that it has already become one of Shanghai’s official icons and certainly remains the most photographed structures by the millions of tourists that survey the Bund.
Pudong also played host to the 2010 Universal Expo, further consecrating this brand new district. Certain pavilions have been preserved; including the impressive Chinese pavilion, built in the shape of an inverted pagoda, now transformed into an Asiatic art museum. If you take a stroll (and don’t get lost!) through the immense rooms, in the space that has become the largest exhibition space in Asia (166,000m2!), you might say that this “beautiful shell” exhibits both the best and the most improbable works of contemporary Chinese art! Needless to say, this is one impressive visit. It also gives an idea of the power of China today. As if anyone needs convincing of that…

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