To be published in the book The Postcolonial Global City in Asia, forthcoming, Universiteit Amsterdam Press.

For information purposes only Not for publication or general circulation

Shanghai, 2010: large swathes of the city have been transformed for the International Expo. For the past 20 years, Shanghai’s authorities have been altering the cityscape with ambitious infrastructure projects and showy buildings seeking to enhance the city’s status abroad and domestically. Simultaneously, the vast economic and cultural changes taking place in China, led by the vanguard-city of Shanghai1, seem to be altering the nature of the social contract itself and the ways that urban space is inhabited. The Expo is the current incarnation of this process, and has not only entailed construction of a contemporary architecture theme park, but also invaded the discourse of daily life in the city through omnipresent advertising and various changes vaguely described as “preparing for the Expo” that range from slum clearance to infrastructure construction to language education and a greater attention to petty crimes. The slogan of the Expo, “chengshi rang shenghuo bian meihao”, or “Better City, Better Life,” seems to highlight the ways that urban planning has been linked to the utopian nature of the landscape emerging in China. The municipal authorities in charge of the Expo are quite frank that they see their city as the essential terrain of the future, and read local developments as of cardinal importance: “The theme of the Exposition 2010 Shanghai is “Better City, Better Life2”. The topic has its origin in the thousands of years of human civilization.”The Expo is both symbol and centrepiece of a narrative of localized urban progress. The discourse of universality used by the Expo would perhaps only be possible in Shanghai; other Chinese cities don’t have the total commitment to the outside world of Shanghai. Within the paradigm of the Expo this discourse is actively being constructed. The stones of this edifice have been recuperated from the ruins of the cosmopolitan Shanghai of the 1930s via nostalgia; a memory of the city’s past greatness pervades contemporary image-making. This base is fragile, though, for the history is problematic, and moreover, Shanghai is arguably more dynamic, cosmopolitan and central to the global discourse than ever before, surpassing its former greatness even as it lives in the shadow thereof. The Expo fuses this legacy with a contemporaneity so fresh it almost seems to be the future rather than the present. Pavilions to sustainability, urbanization, and the other banalities of the early 21st century abound, but in practice, there is no space for these solutions in Shanghai’s present. The Expo is by definition unsustainable, as it will be largely dismantled after it is complete. The incredibly grandiose vision of the Expo reflects Shanghai’s self-image as an upwardly mobile global city; the reality of it, while encouraging, helps us to identify the weak points in this discourse. The Expo is a lens through which we can understand developments in contemporary Shanghai more broadly.

Shanghai emerged from the crucible of colonial development, a paradigm which has renamed itself globalization today (mysteriously, the same handful of cities, London, New York, Paris, etc remain central to this process). The melange of different cultures under the sign of economic utility was the environment of the Shanghai that incubated Chinese modernity. The cosmopolitan environment of 1920s Shanghai, much more ethnically diverse than the contemporaneous London or Paris, and the space of innovative Western technologies and lifestyles proved liberating for some, such as writer Lu Xun, who based himself there; the same environment motivated others, such as the communist party, founded in a Shanghai alleyway in 1921, to find a new kind of liberation. Shanghai’s colonial past is the dominant vernacular of the city centre. Shanghai’s past is today, as it was at the time, simultaneously liberating and horrifying, and the architectural relics it left behind have been better preserved than those in any other Chinese city: if in other cities, the dynamic is straightforwardly modern vs. ancient, Shanghai has already seen a utopian modernity emerge only to fail. Perhaps ironically, this bittersweet legacy has been preserved, especially the spaces most marked by melancholy, such as the Jewish ghetto of Hongkou district, certain great mansions of the French Concession, and the buildings of the Bund. The colonial legacy extends beyond the built environment, though, as Shanghai today cultivates links with the outside world that echo its past glory. If most of China is ‘new’ today, Shanghai is better described as experiencing a Renaissance, and the relations with capital and foreigners that were once a source of status and angst at the same time have re-emerged along similar lines. Shanghai cannot claim political centrality, and its claim to be China’s first city is based on the openness to the outside world that is a remnant of colonialism. The dynamic created by colonialism remains a source of tension, creative and otherwise, in today’s post-colonial Shanghai.

Shanghai has always been a central symbolic space within China3; if Beijing has long been identified as the space of tradition, the symbolic centre of China, Shanghai has always been the symbolic outlier of China, a space fundamentally out of step with the rest of the country, because ahead of it. To use Anne Querrien’s terms, Shanghai “offers its own mode of space-time to those for whom the principles of a sovereign people and a nation state do not apply.4“Though some have characterized the city as “westernizing,” this doesn’t quite make sense, as the changes taking place adopt neither the logic nor the form of any major western city (with the possible exception of Las Vegas). It would be more sensible to say that, without necessarily coming closer to a Western model, Shanghai is escaping the confines of the Chinese model of urbanism, and in the process of doing so transforming that model- it is the avant-garde space of “first tier,” whose achievements are scrutinized with astonishment by planners in second- and third-tier cities. The authorities would like to control private space, but in practice have greater power over public space. Using mega-events like the recent Beijing Olympics or the Shanghai Expo, though, this distinction becomes blurred, as a communal effort is needed to secure the superficial benefits of the spectacularized event, while the infrastructural and legal legacy continues indefinitely5. The difference between the two events attests to the strengths and characters of the two different spaces: while the Olympics brought all of the massive power of the state to bear, the Expo found funds from a consortium of national and local authorities as well as corporate sponsors and even foreign governments. Shanghai’s networks are its strength, even as Beijing’s centralizing tendencies, apparently an opposite approach, served a similar objective in 2008.

In contemporary China, the most forceful language that the government can speak is the language of controlling urban space itself, and the space of Shanghai is itself symbolic of the future of China. Reshaping central Shanghai can be thus read as an attempt to reshape the imagined future, a self-conscious effort which touches upon sustainability, urbanization, diversity, etc.6 The language of the Expo’s buildings, though it is equally a language spoken by power to justify itself, is compelling, and seeks to appropriate the cultural space of optimism about the future for the state. Though the main audience for Shanghai’s Expo is composed of the anticipated 70 million visitors, 95% of whom will be Chinese7, it has also been a display to the world of the opulence of a city that is striving towards becoming the capital city of a reality it has yet to define. This metropolis will not become the capital city of a place, but rather, as Paris in the 19th century, of an epoch, defining its time by reshaping it8. The Expo is both symbolic of and central to this process; in literally seeking to frame Shanghai as the urban space of the future, substantial revision of the past and present might be necessary. The economic function of this project is potentially long term. Shanghai has long pursued the strategy of creating a visible set of monuments which anticipate economic prosperity rather than, as in Rem Koolhaas’ narration of Manhattan9, inspiring it. In Shanghai, the skyline was constructed before the economic base that is normally reflected by a skyline came into existence, a testament to the unique role of the state in Chinese society, which has wished into existence a new economy while remaining in control of it in a way that differentiates it from Western capitalisms. Though Shanghai’s size and economic significance is unmistakable, its role in a China full of enormous cities isn’t purely functional; Wasserstrom describes its role as being “as much symbol as physical city.10” In a country so vast that many cities seem to be merely warehouses for their huge numbers of inhabitants, Shanghai is a symbolic space, recuperating the legacy of its colonial history to stake a claim not to being China’s capital, but rather to being its definitive metropolis, the urban space that defines itself as “city” and everywhere else as suburb.

A city is much more than buildings; it is a way of social relations, a way of understanding the world, a language, a rich bank of memories and images; as Lefebvre puts it, “a space is not a thing but rather a set of relations among things.11” However, cities are often read or understood based on their spatial manifestations; architecture becomes the language of the contemporary because it is much more malleable to change, somehow expresses more clearly the realities of power in the contemporary city; space “socially appears as the intangible outcome of history, society, and culture, all of which are supposedly combined within it12.” Some cities build iconic buildings as civic symbols; for Leslie Sklair, “iconicity in architecture is a resource in struggles for meaning and, by implication, power.13” Shanghai has built so many of these that a previously irrelevant zone, Pudong, to the east of the old centre, has become a museum of them14, and in so doing, a centre of the city. However, it is less so in reality than in representation; after all, skylines are invisible to those who walk among them, so best placed on the other side of the river from the main life of the city, where they can be appreciated as a stunning view; views are meant to be viewed, not inhabited15.

Shanghai’s authorities, with their frequent interventions, seem to be trying to assert control over the vast and relatively unregulated space of the city. The symbols that power has been scrambling to erect to itself have ramifications domestically as well as internationally; these buildings create an image of power and stability that is read differently by potential citizens and potential investors16. As the art historian Hubert Damisch suggests, “in today’s China, architecture functions as one of the most visible instruments… of ‘modernization,’ ostensibly proving to the world and the Chinese masses that the Chinese can be ‘modern,’ that they know how to build and maintain very tall buildings.”17 The message is more sophisticated than this, but it hints at the fact that, in contrast to a ‘delirious’ Manhattan, Shanghai has been constructed deliberately, centrally, with cool reason and extensive rationales, and without a clear or direct economic utility. What is the purpose of this construction?

“Created in 1983, the Shanghai economic zone is the biggest subnational planning entity in the world, encompassing the metropolis and 5 adjoining provinces with an aggregate population almost as large as that of the US.18” Greater Shanghai takes as a point of departure 1991, the date that the economic reform took place, since when Shanghai has been able to reassert its cosmopolitan identity. In this city, the normal markers of an urban identity are in flux. The structure of the city on a basic level has changed altogether, as questions such as is there a subway system? where is the business district? what is the housing stock like? have been given different answers. The language spoken of the streets has changed as well; the Shanghainese dialect is ever more marginal, supplanted by Mandarin, English, and the languages of the businessmen from all over the world who have transplanted themselves. Even the ethnic composition has changed; many foreigners have immigrated for work, but even more socially dramatic has been the influx of peasants from the countryside looking for work. Shanghai’s changes, though, aren’t equivalent to the ones in western cities. Shanghai isn’t being gentrified, it itself is gentrifying people- a factory which invites in these countryside people and rapidly transforms them into 19 or civilized/westernized urbanites20. Or, as Eileen Chang puts it, “the people of Shanghai have been distilled out of Chinese tradition by the pressures of modern life21.” These changes aren’t taking place at random, though; as Kirby recently observed, “In China… the government is responsible at the end of the day for almost everything22.” The radical changes that ordinary people in China are going through may seem chaotic to them, and in fact to those who unleashed them, but are in fact part of a highly ambitious plan to complthe economic limits were taken off 30 years ago, did anybody imagine that there would be hundred-story buildings in Shanghai and subway lines and cars everywhere? The process feels almost experimental,23” posited a moderator of a recent debate about these changes. An experiment, to be sure; in fact, for some who know the city, its very existence seems like one of the most inspiring experiments of the contemporary era. However, waiting in the background are those who, despite having set this experiment into motion, may conclude that, after all, every Petri dish must be disinfected at some point. The Shanghai Urban Planning Museum is surely one of the most eloquent testaments to the existence of the “Better City, Better Life” narrative long before the Expo - it opened in 2000, two years before the Expo was announced. In this museum, the city itself is on display; the entire zone of the city limits is displayed in miniature in an auditorium lit by floodlights. The visitor may note the contrast between the muggy clamour of People’s Park and the tranquil, unproblematic city on display; in fact, what is on display is not the actual city, but the ideal form- a display of the city in 2020 is also on display, a gesture only possible in a city where the future is seen as entirely malleable and subject to manipulation and quality control, entirely a “product,” to echo Lefebvre. The transformation of the city into a symbol enshrined in a museum can only be thought of as a canny attempt at branding. “Branding is all about boiling down perceptions to their essentials. Nobody is more self-conscious than the brand stewards themselves about the artificiality of brand construction. A brand is no different from any other discursive construct… to rise above the information clutter, a brand’s DNA is crystallized into a few pithy campaign concepts.24 In Shanghai, these concepts are: futuristic skyline; enormous highways lit by neon; and now, the Expo. The production of space in the most literal and self-aware sense has a long history in China; a recent book about architectural innovation in contemporary Beijing tells us:

“In 1414 [Emperor] Yongle… [travelled to Beijing] accompanied by a group of artists, poets, and painters, who were given the task of executing a series of views, accompanied by poetic descriptions. The 8 Views had no realistic intentions. Instead, the politically intelligent and careful objective was to compose an artificial image of the places that would legitimize Beijing as capital. Even the names of the views made no references to anything that is urban, or barren, or under construction, nothing at all recalling the dusty reality of the Beijing of that time25. For most residents of Shanghai, these new buildings have no more presence in their daily lives than the luscious gardens of the 8 Views commissioned by Yongle did for the Beijingers of the time; nor are they any more accurate as samples of typical urban scenes. However, in a city where any building is liable to be torn down and replaced with a new one, the buildings which represent the future are somehow more telling than those which represent a present undergoing demolition. These buildings are compelling if only because they symbolize the desires of a power strong enough to alter the cityscape at will; if they ostensibly symbolize government ministries or banks, they actually represent violent, dominating force (a distinction which might seem semantic to those whose homes have been demolished by those same governmental and financial warlords). “The element of repression in [the monument] and the element of exaltation could scarcely be disentangled; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the repressive element was metamorphosized into exaltation… it replaces a brutal reality with a materially realized appearance 26 Lefebvre writes- a summary of the Shanghainese situation that seems potently accurate.

In the Chinese political landscape that has emerged since 1989, the state has cynically claimed credit for the new prosperity and futuristic cities in order to postpone and foreclose upon political change. Opposition is dismissed less as unjustified and more as irrelevant in a cityscape changing so rapidly, as both domestic and foreign observers have suggested that democratic consensus building is simply too slow and cumbersome to navigate such rapid changes27. Subtly posed in this formulation is another proposition, replacing politics as the sphere of potential social change by technology and the future, with their implicitly redemptive qualities. The debate about changing the urban fabric somehow aligns state power with civilized values/the future, and resistance to state power with peasantry/lack of education/malignant traditional values, exemplified by the burgeoning use of the term wenming. The narrative of the last 15 years and the Expo in particular seems precisely to be that liberation will come through economic change and the greater access to technology that it will provide, and not through political change, which at best is acknowledged as an unfortunate side-effect. The Shanghai Expo authorities tell us that “Our motto is: ‘Keeping in mind the next 60 years’ development while preparing for the six months’ Exposition,28’” as if the Expo (and of course, the modernity that would sprinkle into each resident’s heart with it) will somehow transform the very texture of daily life in a magical way. Can we really take this modernity, which has clearly made real changes to the lives of average citizens in stark, material terms, at face value?

“Better City, Better Life” is the omnipresent slogan of the expo, seen on TV, on the subway, on billboards in the street, and near the statues of the blue mascot Haibao distributed all around Shanghai and the Sinosphere. The official English translation is “better city, better life” in Chinese, the phrase is literally: ‘city, then life, becomes better’. The changes of the city are first labelled as improvements in themselves, and then we are told that they will actually make out lives more magical/good. In the space of Shanghai, long notorious among locals and foreigners as a space of intrigue, chaos, dazzling wealth and abysmal slums, an antiseptic new hero has been seen presenting this slogan to the people, explicitly seeking to stay on message about Shanghai’s “real” character all the while. “The blue colour represents many elements- such as the ocean, the future and technology- which are consistent with characteristics of the host city.29 This figure, selected in a competition that many locals insist must have been rigged, crystallizes the tediousness that Shanghai authorities seek to cultivate in escaping the seedy legacy which is in fact the city’s greatest asset. Baudelaire felt that the creation of a cliché was the greatest objective of an artist30, and all those who are bored and not shocked by Haibao must acknowledge the artful nature which has inserted him into the urban fabric. The genius of Haibao is to successfully personify Shanghai not, as previously, as a Whore of the Orient, but as an inoffensive and even boring cartoon character. The model for city planners is somewhere between Manhattan and Singapore; but Manhattan was a spontaneous response to very different economic and social conditions, and Shanghai is and always has been infinitely more vibrant, diverse and chaotic than Singapore. Even today, the foreign population of Shanghai is higher than nearly any East Asian city31, in absolute or proportional terms. Those who love the city and Chinese culture can have no wish to see a great city model itself on the sterile and hyper-controlled ones which inspire so much admiration in those who wish to do what has for 5000 years proved impossible, make China boring. Haibao points the way to a new mode of citizenship, one that invites diversity, sustainability, and anything else currently in fashion, while keeping close, homogenizing control over it all- a Shanghai melting pot with a lid firmly clamped over it.

“The current campaigns for the Expo play upon this Shanghainese notion that it is the centre of Chinese urban modernity,32 writes Gina Anne Russo, and that is exactly why it is a worthy topic of examination. Shanghai’s growth is directed explicitly at becoming a great city, a world city, and the Expo is the centrepiece of that plan. The slightly feeble, stale feel of the project, which has not attracted as many people as anticipated, is hardly surprising. Shanghai is in fact a wonderful and astounding city, but the city on show is a bowdlerized version of itself, with all of the charm removed. Did the state really expect 70 million to willingly pay to watch its homage to itself? Better that they visit the old neighbourhoods before they are finally demolished (or, what’s worse, façadised, like Xintiandi). However, the framework of Shanghai’s developments offers a clear context for what will be the greatest realization of it so far, as well as flagging the future hoped for by those in control. The Expo invites countries from all over the world to join under the umbrella of a benevolent Chinese state capitalism that welcomes everyone, provided that they don’t embarrass the hosts33. The city has seen countless changes initiated in order to prepare for the Expo; the construction of large infrastructure projects, notably including the expansion of the Metro, the re-education of peasants in order to confirm to new social standards vis-à-vis personal comportment, and a relentless cleaning-up campaign has taken place in order to show off the city in the light that it would prefer to be seen. Shanghai, somewhat like the Paris it was once compared to, has two competing versions of itself separated by a river; the West, called Puxi, shows off colonial buildings, while Pudong, to the east, shows the face of the future. The Expo, which centres on a bridge across the Huangpu river, will spread into both districts, recuperating the past with a gesture as retro as a World’s Fair in a colonial architecture to match it even as it beckons towards the future, an uncharted zone that is being remade constantly. If Shanghai truly is the capital of the coming era, then perhaps it is precisely this new space that constitutes the great experiment taking place there; “the pursuit of symbols of progress is at work34.” Shanghai’s multiple identities are presumed totality by the Expo, occupying as it does all of the different symbolic spaces of the city, old and new; the Expo will present Shanghai as a unity, perhaps the largest urban space ever presented as such (Paris within Haussmann’s periphery and Manhattan, the two most lucid models for such a project, are both dwarfed even by Shanghai within city limits, to say nothing of suburbs). The Expo, then, seeks to present a space even as it changes it for its own purposes, exposing as well as expositing, not to mention depositing, as the impact of the event, whether it will ultimately be judged success or failure, will no doubt shape the psychology of the city for years to come35. The possibility also hovers that, hidden beneath the blaring, unsubtle rhetoric the state has crafted to suit its own purposes, an inspiring urban form really is taking shape, due to (or despite) the machinations of planners. Surely, the real interest in Shanghai is not in the superficial forms of buildings that may be transient in any case, but in the shifting community that they are the shadow and echo of, the aspirations of a city that, though formless, may be more substantial than buildings which vanish within a few years.

“There is something to be said for illusions. Though lacking substance, illusions can serve as the basis on which more substantive structures can be built36 writes a novelist of contemporary Shanghai, and the suspiciousness with which we, whether as residents of Shanghai or not, view these manoeuvres must be tempered by our recognition that they are, after all, aspirations for a better life, and symbols thereof that have helped to galvanize the greatest poverty-relief program in human history. The goal of the Expo is to create for economic as well as symbolic reasons, a dream city which is never fully present, and invites the spectator to realize it himself. “Nothing in Shanghai was in the least like the picture I had formed of it… yet I am convinced that there exists a Shanghai corresponding to the city of our dreams, perhaps excelling it,37,” wrote Jean Cocteau in 1936; who could not be similarly inspired by this eccentric city which aspires, perhaps legitimately, to cast itself as the central actor in the history of our time? The city as structure waiting for our exploits exists, with an eerily ghostlike quality- these great buildings have not yet come into their destiny, and invite our own intervention in the fiction they seek to convey, that “Shanghai has a right to be called the cultural capital of a different era, the coming era…”38


  1. “Shanghai is central to China’s ‘official imagination of modernity’. Innovations are ‘culturally legitimate,’” according to King, p. 125. Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture, Urbanism, Identity. London: Routledge, 2004.

  2. Shanghai Expo Special Regulation 1 , accessed May 15, 2010.

  3. “Shanghai and Beijing seem to have a similar urban resonance within China, as do Paris, London and New York in their national contexts.” p. 21, Peter Rowe, Shanghai: Architecture and Urbanism for Modern China. London: Reaktion, 2009.

  4. P. 220, The Metropolis and the Capital, Anne Querrien. Zone½, New York: Urzone, 1986.

  5. For example, the temporary car ban in Beijing has been extended indefinitely., accessed May 13, 2010.

  6. As in the Urban Planet pavilion., accessed May 13 2010.

  7. A figure that at this point seems impossibly optimistic,accessed May 13, 2010.

  8. This concept is hinted at in Hans Eijkelboom’s book Paris, New York, Shanghai (New York: Aperture, 2007) which plays precisely on Benjamin’s concept of Paris as the capital city of the 19th century, in describing Shanghai’s role for the 21st.

  9. Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1977.

  10. p. 13, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Global Shanghai 1850-2010. London: Routledge, 2009.

  11. p. 81, Henri Lefebvre, trans. Donald Nicholson, The Production of Space, London: Blackwell, 1991.

  12. Ibid. 93.

  13. p. 22-23, Leslie Sklair, Iconic Architecture and Capitalist Globalization, City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action Vol. 12, No. 3, 2008.

  14. Pudong’s ‘abrupt metamorphosis from farmland to financial capital’ is described on p. 10, Jay Pridmore, Shanghai: the Architecture of China’;s Great Urban Centre. New York: Abrams, 2008. Museum, because these buildings are beautiful objects more meant for display than utility, and many remain vacant or useless in practical terms.

  15. “Such buildings were conceived from a bird’s-eye view, but slighted the ground-level experience of the city and its buildings as perceived by citizens in the street.” Architecture and Urbanism, accessed May 15, 2010.

  16. “Much of the admiration for Shanghai is based on visual evidence. Just look at Shanghai’s impressive and imposing skyline and the conclusion is obvious,” writes Yasheng Huang, in a chapter primarily about how in fact, Shanghai’s skyline is belied by a somewhat meagre economic performance. P. 177, Yasheng Huang, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

  17. p. 84, Hubert Damisch, Skyline: The Narcissistic City. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. His chapter from which this is taken hints at westerner’s ideas about Shanghai in its title, “The scene of the life of the future.”

  18. p. 7,Mike Davis, Planet of the Slums. London: Verso, 2006.

  19. Wenming is difficult to define. Most dictionaries say it means ‘civilized,’ but this definition carries as many problematic connotations in Chinese as it does in English. Leo Lee, in his book Shanghai Modern, traces the development of this word in modern Chinese. The term was originally borrowed from the Japanese, who used the same characters (pronounced differently of course) in the late nineteenth century to define behaviour that was specifically “modern” and “Western,” thus maintaining the same connotations as “civilized” in English.” Better City, Better Life, accessed March 24, 2010.

  20. Recalling Virilio’s citation of Vauban’s military structures: “A totality of mechanisms able to receive a defined form, … to transform it and finally to return it in a more appropriate form,” p. 36, Speed and Politics, Paul Virilio, trans. Mark Polizzotti, Boston: MIT, 2006.

  21. Eileen Chang, Lust, Caution And Other Stories, London: Penguin Classic, 2007.

  22. Changing Challenging China, accessed March 24, 2010. The same article notes that 17 of the 31 regional party chiefs in China have a background in the media; image management has become management in a country where the substance is constantly in flux.

  23. Changing Challenging China, p.7, accessed March 24, 2010.

  24. p. 136, Jing Wang, Brand New China. Cambridge, MA:MIT Press, 2008.

  25. p. 37, Claudio Greco, Beijing: the New City. Milano: Skira Books, 2008.

  26. p. 220-221, Henri Lefebvre, trans. Donald Nicholson, The Production of Space, London: Blackwell, 1991.

  27. For example, Tom Friedman of the New York Times recently editorialized, “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.” Our One Party Democracy, accessed April 5, 2010.

  28. Backgrounder: 2010 Shanghai Expo, accessed March 22, 2010.

  29. Red Shanghai, Blue Shanghai, accessed April 5, 2010.

  30. “Créer un poncif, c’ est le génie. Je dois créer un poncif.” Fusée, XIII, in Oeuvres complètes, ed. Claude Pichois, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), 1: 662.

  31. With the possible exception of Hong Kong, a city formed as a replacement for a lost 1930’s Shanghai by refugees from the 1949 Revolution.

  32. Better City, Better Life, accessed April 5, 2010.

  33. The Americans, perhaps aware that the elephant being slowly tugged out of the room is their own dwindling hegemony, resentfully refused to make an entry until the last minute, when they offered a hideous structure most resembling a Walmart- the truest expression of Sino-American cooperation so far. USA Pavillion 2010, accessed April 5, 2010.

  34. p. 34, Peter Rowe, Shanghai: Architecture and Urbanism for Modern China. London: Reaktion, 2009.

  35. The only consolation for an architectural critic in contemporary Shanghai is the delicious certainty that sometime soon, perhaps within less than a decade, it will all be replaced by something else anyhow- most of the structures of the Expo, from the impressive offerings fielded by the UK or Romania to the hideous wrecks from the US and North Korea, will be demolished after it is finished.

  36. p. 202, Wang Anyi, trans Michael Berry and Egan, Susan Chan. The Song of Everlasting Sorrow. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

  37. Cited on p. 136, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Global Shanghai 1850-2010. London: Routledge, 2009.

  38. p. 13 Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Global Shanghai 1850-2010. London: Routledge, 2009.