Why Beijing Is Not Shanghai

on December 18 2013 | in Lifestyle | by | with No Comments

Beijing and Shanghai may be the best known Chinese cities, but these two cities could not be more  different.

Beijing, set in relief by the shadow of the Great Wall, has long been a seat of power, diplomacy, tradition, and scholarship. On the other hand, Shanghai is considered in some ways more metropolitan. It features the earliest Western factories, schools, and architecture to be found in China. It faces the Pacific and has been more influenced by the world washing up on its shores.

People in Beijing and Shanghai think differently, at least according to popular stereotypes. “People in Beijing are said to look at the big picture and discuss things from the perspective of policy-making and reform, while people in Shanghai are said to be more inclined to focus on practicalities and are more flexible in their approach to various issues,” Want China Times said.


Eloquence and diplomacy hold great sway in Beijing, perhaps because so many past dynasties chose it as their capital, and because the top academies call that city home. But those traits are considered unrealistic in Shanghai, where from the Song to the Qing dynasties, trade among domestic and international merchants was the focal point of life there. The people of Shanghai are called shrewd and pragmatic, which the people of Beijing find inferior.

It is said, “Shanghai is where the West seduces China. Beijing is where China seduces the West.”

image credit: trey ratcliff

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