When I woke up this morning, it was hard to believe that we were in Shanghai. Just the night before, we took the bullet train from Xi’an to Shanghai and checked into our five-star hotel just outside of downtown in a ritzy area of Shanghai. After checking in, we left the hotel to go on a nighttime cruise on the Huangpu river which travels right through the downtown splitting it into an east and west side. The skyline was amazing and that says a lot with me being from Chicago. The city seemed to keep going and going but seemed to have a dedicated downtown area with skyscrapers and many large high-end stores, restaurants, and bars.
Today started out with a similar breakfast to our last two hotels before we left for the University. We drove to the East China University of Science and Technology which is a prominent University in both Shanghai, China, and in the world. The University has numerous breakthroughs such as the first large scale gas synthesizer in China and the first penicillin made in China. We toured the campus and then went in the Information Sciences building to have a lecture on doing business in China including talking about Free Trade Zones, Chinese Investment Laws, and the difficulty of starting a business in China. I was surprised to learn how even though the government is restrictive on trade and businesses, in the past few years, China has made it substantially easier to start a business, not on the level of the United States, but much easier than in years past. On top of this we also talked about how Shanghai was the first Free Trade Zone in China and since then, many more major cities have also become Free Trade Zones. China has also established many Free Trade Agreements with 19 different countries. These economic moves show how Shanghai has evolved from a small fishing town to one of the largest economic centers in the world. After our lecture, we had lunch and heard from a student who attends the University and is American. He was older and had a wife and three kids and was from Alabama but came to China and Shanghai to study and learn Chinese. Shanghai and the East China University of Science and Technology has evolved to be a more international hub attracting people from all over the world.
After our visit to the University, we visited the Shanghai Museum of Urban Planning, which was downtown Shanghai, right by the People’s Square. The focus of the museum is to show the infrastructure, technology, and planning that took Shanghai from a fishing town in the 80’s to one of the largest cities in present day. The city showcased a lot about the transportation in Shanghai, including its airport, subway, rail, and highway infrastructure that has improved and more than doubled in size in the last decade. Shanghai is also home to the Maglev train, which is a train which floats using magnets and is able to travel at over 250 miles per hour. The museum also included a scale model of the city of Shanghai with every building located with in the city represented by a scale figure.