had one million Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) users, more than
any other city in China, according to China Telecommunications Corp.
Shanghai has 6.7 million TV households, according to Nielsen,
representing 17.34 million TV viewers in a city with 18.9 million
residents. At the end of 2008, Shanghai had about 745,000 IPTV
users. IPTV services in that city are jointly provided by China
Telecom's subsidiary, Shanghai Telecom and Shanghai Media Group's (SMG)
BesTV subsidiary. Nationally, China now has just over three million
people receiving TV content via IPTV, a system through which digital
television service is delivered using the internet, instead of being
delivered through a traditional radio frequency broadcast, a
satellite signal or a cable television format. Sources: Nielsen,
Shanghai's economy posted record levels of
foreign investment following China's World Trade Organization entry
China's top economic planning body set
new targets on Monday in its effort to turn Shanghai into a global
financial centre. The blueprint sets out a time
frame to implement and goals to increase trade in particular with respect
to financial instruments including derivatives. --
2012 February 15 WALL
The Centre in Shanghai sold for to
China Pacific for $670 million
In the most-expensive single-property
sale in mainland China this year, a Hong Kong-based distressed seller is
getting a helping hand from the rise in the Chinese currency.
The deal also marks one of the first property
purchases by a Chinese insurer since Beijing granted greater leeway last
year for the country's insurance companies to invest in real estate. The
move was designed to help the country's cash-rich insurers seek higher
returns by investing in a wider array of asset classes. --
2011 March 16 WALL ST. JOURNAL
We love the elegance as well as the
privacy of this gorgeous townhouse. La Cite was developed by
Singapore's largest developer - Capitaland.
Capitaland teamed with Sun
Hung Kai Properties of Hong Kong for Ion which is Singapore's most
spectacular and prime retail development on Orchard Road. Both
these developers have a reputation for exceptional quality and they carry
that standard with them in their developments in the region + purchasers
follow their branding. As with fashion, developers also have
valuable brands that translate globally. Both developers are
associated with premium luxury real estate.
Partnerships amongst the regions
largest developers is taking place in a way previously unheard of.
China real estate and development requires a specialized team with local
skill set on a world-class basis. This is what investors are
counting on and how the developers can distinguish amongst themselves.
Shanghai is one of China's showcases and there is a variety of modern
Every family in Shanghai will
temporarily be permitted to buy only one more home, regardless of whether
it is a second-hand unit or newly built apartment.
Shanghai authorities also said it would
limit the amount of mortgages banks can issue on residences and prepare to
introduce a trial launch of a real estate tax.
In line with the national policy, the
Shanghai government said it had ordered banks to suspend loans for
third-home buyers and would further regulate developers' business
operations and strengthen the management of market transactions
ESSENTIALS: Population: 13.52 million GDP (2004): $89.76 billion TV households (2004 est):
3,449,000 Adspend (2004): $2.39
billion* Adspend (2003): $1.67
billion* Year-on-year increase:
42.5%* Adspend as a percentage of GDP
(2004): 2.7% Avg. min. viewed per day per viewer
of all channels (aged 4+): 166.8 Basic cable subscription cost (per
*based on published rate card
Hong Kong was once the marketing capital of
Greater China, but the territory has become Chicago to Shanghai's New
Many marketers have relocated their headquarters for the region to
mainland China, knowing they have to be on the ground to have any chance
of getting that vast market right. With more than 1 billion consumers,
they can't afford to get it wrong.
While many government-related businesses in the technology and telecom
sector headed to Beijing, China's capital, many consumer goods marketers
like Unilever, McDonald's Corp., Coca-Cola Co., Siemens, Heineken and
General Motors Corp. opted for Shanghai.
Given the city's jet-set "Paris of the East" image in the 1920s
and 1930s, its rapid transformation into a marketing hub is no surprise.
The city is home to some of the most Westernized, brand-friendly, trendy
consumers in China.
Shanghai has also become China's Madison Avenue, with significant offices
for just about every major multinational agency network, including WPP
Group's JWT and Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett. It is also the first stop
for smaller shops that want an office in China, such as Omnicom Group's
TBWA Worldwide, M&C Saatchi, Wieden+Kennedy and Havas-owned Arnold
"The center of creativity has shifted from Hong Kong to
Shanghai," said Tom Doctoroff, JWT's area director, Northeast Asia
& CEO, China, who relocated to Shanghai from Hong Kong seven years
ago. "I don't know whether this is a result of increasing skills
among local advertising execs or a massive talent shift [moving from Hong
Kong] north of the border. I suspect it's a 50-50 combination."
A walk down this colorful, cosmopolitan city's
major arteries supplies ample reasons why foreigners, whether from London
or Hong Kong, choose to live in this lively city.
The riverside strip called the Bund is home to some of the best
restaurants and nightclubs in the world, such as Jean-Georges, M on the
Bund, Laris and Bar Rouge, as well as a multi-level Armani flagship store.
Business and shopping districts like Nanjing Rd. West and Xintiandi also
are packed with tempting restaurants and luxury retail shops, like the
three-story "Sony Gallery" that opened last year in Huaihai
Road, the first such Sony lifestyle outlet in Asia outside Japan.
city's Peace Hotel, which once accommodated Charlie Chaplin and other
celebrities, opened to guests yesterday after three years of restoration,
the managers said in a statement.
Peace Hotel will be managed by Chinese hotelier Shanghai Jin Jiang
International Hotels (Group) Co and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc,
which runs the Savoy hotel in London.
Jiang, which operates more than 600 hotels in China, spent HK$500 million
(S$88 million) to restore the building.
of the main features of the hotel have been kept, including the lobby with
an Octagon ceiling, the hoteliers said.
start from 2,300 yuan (S$464) and go as high as more than 7,000 yuan for a
night, the hotel's general manager, Kamal Naamani said at a press
hotel has 270 rooms including the so-called Nine Nations Suites.
building, located on the Bund promenade overlooking the Huangpu River, has
six restaurants and lounges, including the Jazz Bar patronised by former
US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Indian, English, Chinese and American suites have been preserved, while
the French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and German rooms were redesigned.
hotel was previously called the Cathay Hotel and was built by British
businessman Victor Sassoon, opening in 1929. The art deco property
reopened as the Peace Hotel in 1956.
Jiang also has an agreement with Swatch Group AG to develop the south wing
of the old Peace Hotel, called Swatch Art Peace Hotel, part of which will
serve as an arts centre. --
2010 July 29Bloomberg
Even a grande dame needs a facelift
when a younger rival moves in down the street.
First opened in 1929 as the Cathay Hotel, it faces competition
from a slew of glitzy outfits including a US$360m Peninsula Hotel
being built nearby
The venerable Peace Hotel, an icon of
glamorous 1930s Shanghai, is preparing for a US$50 million renovation that
its owners hope will put it back in the ranks of the world's best.
Jinjiang International Group thinks the
project is needed to help the hotel compete with a slew of glitzy
establishments in the booming city, including a US$360 million Peninsula
Hotel being built by Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd nearby on the
northern tip of the Bund waterfront.
'If we don't upgrade, it just won't do.
You can't compete on culture alone,' public relations manager Ma Yongzhang
said on Friday. He began work as a room attendant at the hotel as the
chaos of China's Cultural Revolution erupted 40 years ago.
Opened by businessman Victor Sassoon in
1929 as the Cathay Hotel, the hotel welcomed Charlie Chaplin and Noel
Coward to the city known as the Pearl of the Orient. It was renamed the
Peace Hotel in 1956, after the Communists took power.
It hosted Chinese warlords, entertained
Shanghai gangsters and survived Red Guard attacks before Shanghai
conglomerate Jinjiang refurbished it 10 years ago.
The Italian marble in the art deco
lobby gleams once again, but the elevators are clunky and the rooms do not
always meet international five-star standards, guests say. Its occupancy
rate was a respectable 78 per cent in 2005, but it has slipped this year.
The exact timing and full cost of the
hotel's renovation have not been finalised yet, Mr Ma said. But the vision
is clear - to recreate a luxury hotel for guests who romanticise the
pre-war Shanghai era.
Mr Ma recalled how he and other staff
protected the hotel when it was targeted during the Cultural Revolution as
a symbol of capitalism.
'The Red Guards came and wanted to
smash the dragon and phoenix ceilings of the restaurant, but we told them
that would leave the staff and guests with nowhere to eat.
'So we said we'd smash it
ourselves, and instead we covered the whole ceiling with papers, and
protected it.' - SINGAPORE
BUSINESS TIMES 2006 July 3
Owners plan a makeover for Shanghai's
The Peace Hotel, an aging colonial icon
on Shanghai's scenic waterfront, will be renovated under a deal signed
with Fairmont Hotels and the Swiss watchmaker Swatch.
Jinjiang International Hotel
Management, China's biggest hotel operator and current owner of the Peace
Hotel, announced plans to join with the two foreign companies in a notice
posted on the Web site of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Plans call for the owners to keep the
hotel's historic design and art-deco highlights.
Jinjiang and Fairmont Hotels &
Resorts, a Saudi-controlled luxury hotel group based in Toronto, are
setting up a joint venture to renovate and manage the best-known northern
wing of the hotel, located at the corner of Shanghai's Nanjing Road
shopping street and the waterfront Bund, the notice said.
The 78-year-old hotel closed this
month, with construction work expected to last about two years, it said.
The southern wing of the Peace Hotel
will be renovated and managed by a joint venture between Jinjiang and a
unit of the Swatch Group of Switzerland, Jinjiang said.
That wing, to be known as the Shanghai
Swatch Art Center, will be transformed into an art center and also house
flagship stores for international-brand watches, it said.
Jinjiang, the largest tourism
conglomerate in China's biggest city, owns some of Shanghai's choicest
historic hotels. But the state-run company has been struggling to acquire
the international managerial expertise it needs to compete with the dozens
of top-flight global hotel operators setting up operations in China.
It faces competition along the Bund
from some of the biggest names in retailing - many other colonial
buildings have already been revamped into fashionable boutiques,
restaurants and galleries.
But the company's decision to join with
foreign companies in upgrading the Peace Hotel has raised some eyebrows.
"South Wing: Artists Only
Welcome," said a headline in the local newspaper Oriental Morning
The Peace Hotel opened in 1929 as the
Cathay, built and owned by the Iraqi Jewish tycoon Victor Sassoon, who
resided in a pyramid-shaped rooftop penthouse that has inspired the look
of scores of modern Chinese skyscrapers.
The 12-story main building was the
place to stay in the Shanghai of the 1930s and '40s, attracting famous
guests like Charlie Chaplin, General George Marshall of the United States,
and the playwright Noel Coward, who completed his famous work,
"Private Lives," while staying at the Cathay.
Following the Communist takeover in
1949, the hotel nationalized and renamed to drop perceived colonialist
overtones. - ASSOCIATED
PRESS 17 April 2007
Situated in an inconspicuous
corner near the Bund, the Pujiang Hotel, formerly the Astor House Hotel,
seems to have lost its bygone glory.
The low-rise building has
been eroded to be dated in colour, which was submerged among the eminent
architecture of the Bund.
Few members of the city's
younger generation are even aware that the hotel exists, let alone that it
is considered the father of the city's luxury hotels.
The hotel was opened in
1846. In 1861 the two-story hotel was sold to Henry Smith who renamed it
the Astor House Hotel. The building we see today was completed in 1910. In
1959, the hotel name was changed to Pujiang Hotel.
It was once the most
renowned and luxurious foreign-owned hotel in the Far East.
The Victorian-style design
was the work of an Englishman, which can be detected from the grand
columns standing in the halls and arched gates.
The hotel has witnessed many
breakthrough events in Chinese history. The first lamp bulb in the country
was lit here, the first telephone in the country was switched on here, and
the first sound film from the West was projected here.
Plus, China's first ball was
held in the hotel, helping to bring to a close the tradition that women
should not attend social activities.
It is said that Chiang Kai-shek
had his last dinner here before withdrawing to the island of Taiwan.
A bellboy picked up a wallet
belonging to a Russian at the main entrance to the hotel, and used one
third of it to buy a car, serving as the first taxi in the country. He was
the founder of Johnson, now Qiang Sheng Taxis.
Today, when you walk on the
creaking wooden floor and see the simple furniture, you cannot imagine the
brilliant days of the hotel. It is only a two-star hotel now.
Some of the 116 guestrooms,
in which international celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Albert
Einstein once stayed, are taken as historic spots with photos hanging on
the wall to show guests.
The suites have been
redecorated in their original style (except for modern electric
appliances), and some of the furniture has been modeled with guidance from
The hotel still keeps its
hulking and slow manual-operating elevators, which work from 7:00am to
Close to an international
wharf, the hotel changed some guestrooms for young travelers, known as the
youth hostel. Here there are several beds in one room.
first of its kind in Shanghai, and has been applauded by young student
--By Lu Chang, Shanghai
Star ; South
China Morning Post
Dancing the dreary decades away Shanghai's prerevolutionary ballroom is
again the venue for light-footed old-timers . . .
Rose Tang is the last of the Old Shanghai aristocrats. At the age of 81,
wearing an elegant ensemble and gold heels, she waltzes and foxtrots
across the dance floor of the sole surviving ballroom from the glory days
of the 1930s.
Her partner is a suave 24-year-old
hired dancer, dressed entirely in black, his hair slicked back in Rudolph
Valentino style. At a price of about $75 a session, he is a modern version
of the sophisticated "taxi dancers" of Shanghai's hedonistic
This is the Paramount, the famed Art
Deco dance hall that became the biggest and most notorious ballroom in
Asia in the tumultuous era before Shanghai fell to the Communists. And its
most famous denizen is Ms. Tang, known as Auntie Rose, who represents one
of Shanghai's last connections to its glamorous past.
"Some people describe me as the
last generation of the Chinese aristocracy," she smiles. "To me,
this is just obvious. I don't mind when people call me an aristocrat. It's
just a simple fact."
Ms. Tang is intimately connected to the
high-society families that dominated Shanghai in those glittering days.
Her sister dated the finance minister T. V. Soong, brother of the
celebrated Soong sisters -- two of whom married the nationalist leaders
Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. Her brother was Mr. Soong's personal
secretary. She proudly shows a black-and-white photo of her late husband,
wearing a fedora and pinstripes, who belonged to one of China's wealthiest
Ms. Tang was a 16-year-old schoolgirl
in 1941, when a boyfriend invited her to the Paramount to dance to the
famous jazz band. It was the first time she wore the stylish clothing of
the era: high heels and a qipao, a tight-fitting, slinky, silk Chinese
"Back then, the Paramount was the
biggest ballroom in the Far East, and all the high-society members would
go there," she recalls, her eyes sparkling.
"It was the place for all the rich
men. They would bring dancing girls and prostitutes, so the women would
have to bring their husbands or boyfriends if they didn't want to be
regarded as prostitutes. I was from a good family, so I never talked to
those dancing girls."
The Paramount, according to a popular
guidebook of the time, was a favourite haunt of Chinese playboys who
"play tennis and speak English with each other and go to Paris once
in a while and take their favourite wives out." Hollywood celebrities
such as Charlie Chaplin were among those who visited.
But it was also an era of crime and
assassination. One of the most beautiful and famous Paramount dancing
girls was killed by a gunman at the dance hall in 1941, either because she
refused to dance with a Japanese man or because she was suspected of
espionage, depending on which story you believe. The murder just added to
the mystique of the dance hall.
Ms. Tang's family did not escape the
turmoil. When assassins tried to kill Mr. Soong at a train station, they
killed her brother by mistake. She tells the story of how her brother was
targeted because he was wearing the same kind of robe as the finance
minister, who hid behind a train to escape the assassins.
Ms. Tang survived the Japanese
occupation and the Communist revolution, but after 1949, the Paramount was
converted into a cinema, showing a glum program of Maoist propaganda
Then, during the Cultural Revolution
from 1966 to 1976, the Paramount was closed entirely, and the Red Guards
denounced Auntie Rose as a class enemy.
She was forced to toil as a worker in a
zipper factory, carrying heavy buckets of metal. She points to her arms,
still scarred by the blisters she suffered from the vats of boiling water
in the factory. Fearing punishment, she burned everything from the past,
including the love letters from Mr. Soong to her sister and the
bloodstained robe that her brother wore when he was murdered.
"My only goal was to make sure
that my children survived," she says. "I kept telling myself,
'This can't go on forever. One day it will end.' " The Paramount,
meanwhile, languished in obscurity and fell into disrepair. One rainy day
in 1990, part of its façade collapsed and killed a passerby.
But in 2001, Taiwanese investors spent
$3-million to refurbish it and reopen it as a ballroom in the old
glamorous style, with red-and-gold décor. "I must come, I must have
a look," Auntie Rose said to herself as soon as she heard the news.
Today she goes to the Paramount at
least once a week. Like the ballroom itself, she is a relic of a more
glamorous era. "I come here to remember those old days," she
says. "It brings back such memories. I never thought that I would be
at the Paramount again, wearing elegant clothes again."
Although she lost all of her family
money in the Communist era, she now receives financial support from her
children who live in the United States and Japan.
She happily poses for a photographer as
she dances the rumba and the waltz. "Please be careful with your
photos because some people here are not dancing with their spouses,"
she tells the photographer.
But there aren't enough rumba dancers
to ensure the Paramount's survival. Just this month, it was announced that
the Paramount is losing so much money that its Taiwanese owners have
decided to convert the second and third floors into a disco. Only the
fourth-floor ballroom will remain in the old style, and preservationists
are worried that it could be damaged by the pounding noise of the disco.
In true aristocratic style, Auntie Rose
sniffs at the nouveaux riches who sometimes hire her dancing partner.
"They're loud and noisy," she says as she sips tea at the
Paramount. "Often their parents were peasants. I don't have any
dealings with them. They don't have the class that we had. In the old
days, if you had class, you spoke quietly and softly."
Then, clutching her gold high-heels,
she slips into a taxi and disappears into the Shanghai night. -
by Geoffrey York THE
GLOBE & MAIL
22 December 2006
Shanghai - fusing modernity and exotic
old world charm
Shanghai is a fascinating city. It
fascinated me on my first visit 25 years ago when only the 'old Shanghai'
existed. And it fascinated me no less when I returned recently to find a
city that has somehow managed to fuse brash modernity with a graceful and
exotic air of history. Indeed, Shanghai retains some of what Hong Kong,
Singapore and Tokyo have lost.
The contrast between the Shanghai of
today and the city I visited a quarter of a century ago could not have
been greater as I gazed on New Year's Eve from the Bank of China Tower in
Pudong across the Whampoa or Huangpu River towards that historically
famous boulevard, the Bund.
From my 51st floor eyrie, I looked
across to and down upon the now seemingly miniature buildings that were
once Shanghai's 'high rises'. They still look as elegant as ever. The
famous Peace Hotel or 'He Ping fan dian' is as grand and imposing as the
day it opened in 1929 as a single hotel combining the old Cathay and
The one-time Hong Kong and Shanghai
Bank headquarters and other venerable edifices are still standing, too, as
well maintained remnants of the old Shanghai International Settlement. The
Bund retains what Britain's Prince Charles would call a 'human dimension'
that Pudong with its gleaming, cloud-piercing tower blocks can never
aspire to. Many other Asian cities have allowed this human dimension to
disappear by ruthlessly demolishing historic old buildings or refurbishing
them almost beyond recognition, and dwarfing them with high rises that
range from the anonymous to the garish.
An even more frozen-in-time experience
for me was to enter the Yongfoo Elite Club in Shanghai's old diplomatic
quarter, an establishment housed in a villa that served at different times
as a British, Russian and then Vietnamese consulate building. Replete with
old mahogany furniture, art deco items and a wealth of paintings and
antiques from China and Europe, the building is a tribute to Shanghai's
sensitive preservation of its colourful past.
But Shanghai is not just about
antiquity. The city no longer needs to dream of its former glory, having
overtaken Hong Kong and other 'Chinese' cities in Asia as a centre of
commerce, tourism and design. True, Shanghai has not yet matched its
rivals as an international financial centre, but in the current global
financial crisis that could prove to be an advantage.
Knowing that land is still collectively
owned, or at least owned by public authorities in the name of the people
in China, visitors are inclined to wonder how Shanghai could have afforded
to finance the veritable forest of new office blocks - some of them
destined to rise more than 100 storeys - and apartment buildings that now
characterise much of its skyline.
The answer is that the Shanghai local
government leases land to developers who bear construction costs, while
the city uses the revenue to finance a generally modern and ambitious
infrastructure. Since these leases typically have to be renewed every 50
to 70 years, the system appears to provide cities like Shanghai with a
useful source of renewable revenue, rather to the chagrin of China's
central government which does not own land.
If the visitor is awed by the sheer
size of Shanghai - the largest city in China and one of the biggest
metropolitan areas in the world, with a population of 20 million - this is
nothing, apparently, to what it could become. Under a plan now being
implemented, at least 16 cities in three provinces adjacent to Shanghai
will be linked by high-speed rail and motorway networks and cross-sea
bridges to form a vast megalopolis. Everyone in this area will be able to
travel within three hours to every part of the conurbation of the Yangtse
A Chinese official described the scheme
to me, in a casual rather than boastful way, as a plan of of
'mind-boggling dimensions'. It is certainly characteristic of Shanghai's
restored sense of former greatness, as the city has re-emerged to eclipse
the usurper Hong Kong. Even Beijing faces the prospect of becoming
secondary to Shanghai if the Chinese administrative capital has to be
relocated because of water shortages. Not that Shanghai does not have its
own problems - pollution and traffic congestion being two of the biggest.
Pollution caused by smog from nearby
industrial centres is an ever-present phenomenon from which there was only
temporary relief when Beijing hosted the Olympic Games last year. Indeed,
when I spoke of 'gazing' across the Whampoa River, I should have said
'peering' through a haze that rarely lifts. I recall similar smogs in
Britain 50 years ago, and Japan had them until the 1960s. They are part of
a heavy price to be paid for industrial development, and one can only hope
that the Chinese government uses part of its planned 596 billion yuan
(S$129 billion) fiscal stimulus package cleaning up the environment.
Shanghai can be faulted, too, for not
having subway and other public transport systems that come anywhere near
those in Tokyo, Hong Kong or Singapore. As a result, an endless procession
of cars and trucks spills from expressways on to city roads that become
absurdly clogged. If this is a symbol of Shanghai's prosperity, it is one
that is sadly out of keeping with its otherwise civilised traditions.
- 2009 January 7 BUSINESS
CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS: Shanghai's skyline
glitters from the top of a Pudong skyscraper
Morgan Stanley sells Shanghai investment
US investment bank Morgan Stanley has
sold its serviced apartment project in Pudong, Shanghai, for about 1.2
billion yuan (~ $1.38 billion HKD) making it the second-largest residential
deal by value in the city so far this year.
Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund has
sold the 284-unit Pinnacle Century Park adjacent to the Lujiazui financial
district to JP Morgan Greater China Property Fund, according to people
familiar with the deal.
One person involved in the deal said it
was time for Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund to take profit and
redistribute the earnings to investors.
The deal, in which property consultant
DTZ acts as the agent, would be the second-largest residential sale by
value in Shanghai after Goldman Sachs sold its Shanghai Garden Plaza for
2.24 billion yuan, or 23,039 yuan per square metre, to Shanghai Forte Land
early this year, Savills said. Shanghai Garden Plaza has a gross floor
area of 97,227 sq metres.
Mirae Asset Financial Group 's sale of
serviced apartment Shama Luxe Xintiandi to Shui On Construction and
Materials for 929 million yuan, or 58,824 yuan per square metre, ranked
third. Mirae Asset is the largest equity fund manager in South Korea.
"Lots of international funds are
still looking for acquisition opportunities, but they are not as active as
two years ago," said Albert Lau, executive director at Savills China.
He said the global financial crisis and the deepening debt problems in
Europe had given investors more challenges in raising funds.
Douglas Sung, head of portfolio
management at JP Morgan Greater China Property Fund, did not deny the
acquisition. "I'm busy and let's talk later," he told the South
China Morning Post.
In 2008, JP Morgan Asset Management
raised US$600 million for the Greater China property fund. The closed-end
fund received capital commitments from institutional and high-net-worth
investors from the United States, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The fund will be invested across all
real estate sectors in the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Its
primary focus is developing new properties and investments will be made in
the office, residential, retail and hospitality sectors by creating
project-level joint-venture arrangements with multiple operating partners
in Greater China.
It seeks to capitalise on the
mainland's rapid economic growth, urbanisation, rising income levels and
strong demand for real estate.
- July 19, 2010 SCMP
Shhanghai may impose its own
residential property tax to cool price increases in China's richest city,
Shanghai Securities News reported yesterday, citing unidentified people
close to the government.
Crowd puller: Real estate
prices rose by a record 12.8 per cent in April from a year
earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday
The steps may be introduced as early as
this month, the newspaper said. The Shanghai Municipal Housing Support and
Building Administration Bureau didn't respond to questions from Bloomberg
when contacted by telephone.
Property prices in Shanghai may fall as
much as 40 per cent if the new tax is imposed, and declines in other
cities would follow, according to Wu Jianxiong, a Shanghai-based analyst
at Central China Securities Holdings.
Shanghai would be the first city in
China to impose its own property tax to combat speculation in the housing
market and control price increases that have sparked inflation concerns in
Real estate prices rose by a record
12.8 per cent in April from a year earlier, the National Bureau of
Statistics said on Tuesday. That increase was the 'last glimmer of the
setting sun' before government actions to curb prices take effect, Mr Wu
China has restricted pre-sales by
developers, curbed loans for second and third-home purchases and, on
Monday, raised the minimum reserve requirements at banks for the third
time this year.
'It's very likely that we will see many
real estate developers offer more discounts for newly built apartments in
Shanghai in the near term,' said Lu Qilin, a Shanghai-based researcher at
U-Win Real Estate Research Center.
Chinese banks can withstand a 30 per
cent to 40 per cent decline in home prices, the 21st Century Business
Herald reported on Monday on its website, citing unidentified bank
officials. The nation's banks have finished stress tests on mortgage
exposure, the Guangzhou-based newspaper said.
The idea of a city-wide property tax is
'entirely normal', the Shanghai municipal housing bureau said in an April
8 statement. Local governments can implement the tax with central
government approval, it said.
China's surging property market is in
its 'last madness' and speculators may retreat on caution by local
authorities, Central bank adviser Li Daokui said on April 17.
The government is trying to reduce the
effects of a stimulus plan and a US$1.4 trillion lending binge that
revived economic growth and increased the risk of an asset bubble.
'China has plenty of demand right now,
so this is no bubble in my definition,' Hang Lung Properties Ltd chairman
Ronnie Chan said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday broadcast
'A bubble to me, if you want to be more
precise, is the huge rise in market prices in the absence of demand.
'I think the buying opportunities are
ahead of us, not behind us,' he said. --
2010 May 13 Bloomberg
Luxury hotels in Shanghai look risky:
The city's first-quarter growth slumped to 3.1%, about half the national
pace. International hoteliers have plans to add 46% more rooms in Shanghai
before the end of next year, even as revenue per five-star room has halved
since 2005 and occupancy has fallen to 42%, according to Jones Lang
In a late 1990s Shanghai real-estate
swoon, government-owned companies emerged as investors of last resort, and
today they are landlords to properties housing Grand Hyatt, Radisson and
JW Marriott hotels. -
The Centre in Shanghai sold for to
China Pacific for $670 million
In the most-expensive single-property
sale in mainland China this year, a Hong Kong-based distressed seller is
getting a helping hand from the rise in the Chinese currency.
The deal also marks one of the first property
purchases by a Chinese insurer since Beijing granted greater leeway last
year for the country's insurance companies to invest in real estate. The
move was designed to help the country's cash-rich insurers seek higher
returns by investing in a wider array of asset classes. --
2011 March 16 WALL ST. JOURNAL
From the Vendor's website:
40-storey office building developed in 2004 by Hutchison
One of the few international class A office properties in
Located within the office cluster of central Puxi, one of
Shanghai’s most premium districts
Rent increases through the financial crisis
Cost savings alongside service improvements
Maintains high occupancy rate
China insurers buy office tower,
spurring the opportunistic institutional bargain hunters who are
waiting to step in. Shanghai is one of the playgrounds in
China. There are many more.
- - -
In recent years, the developers of
Shanghai's top-notch office blocks faced agreeable problems: how to find
the next good plot of land and how high to build on it. The demand for
A-grade office space was insatiable as the target tenants --
multinationals -- were typically increasing headcount by around 10% a
year, prompting a construction boom. Even in a buoyant market, that much
building was going to increase vacancy rates and push down rents. The
problem for the developers now is that all the new towers are opening
their doors during the worst climate the Chinese economy has faced since
Rents in Shanghai's office market peaked during the second quarter of 2008
with 3 million square metres of A-grade office stock in the central
business districts, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. Since then, nearly
50,000 sqm have come online, and there is plenty more on the way.
Vacancies, as of the end of the first quarter of 2009, are 14.2%, up 9.1%
since the peak. Pudong, which contains the city's financial centre,
Lujiazui, has 23.6% of its premium space empty. And rents across Shanghai
are down by nearly a quarter. "Since September 2008 we have seen that
demand has been falling away at an unprecedented rate," said Steven
McCord, senior manager of research in Jones Lang LaSalle's Shanghai
For some developers, the trick is to try to postpone the completion of
buildings that are under construction so that they are finished when
demand has picked up. "We expect a lot of delays to emerge in the
next six to 12 months," said McCord. "But still, very few
buildings have officially changed their completion dates, which is strange
because you can see construction visibly slowing down on a number of
No signs of distress
Investors are already crawling around for bargains. "We have had a
lot of investors come to us recently asking about distressed assets, and
they are surprised that there aren't any," said Hingyin Lee, director
of research at Colliers Shanghai.
While the situation isn't bad enough that distressed assets have appeared
on the market, now could be a good time for investors looking to get
exposure to Shanghai's office property space. In 2006 and 2007, landlords
were keen to keep hold of their properties because they wanted to keep
enjoying, what looked at the time, to be an ever-increasing rental income.
"Landlords right now are seeing a reduction in leasing demand, a
decrease in rentals, a rise in vacancies and much new supply to be
completed in the market down the line," said Shaun Brodie, associate
director for research at property firm DTZ in Shanghai. "Put all
these factors together and you will see some landlords looking to offload
their assets." But he points out that the deals haven't started to
flow yet, partly because there is still a gap between the price
expectations of the landlords and investors.
This is perhaps a perfect opportunity to buy office space, noted Brodie.
"Ten or 20 years down the line, when Shanghai has increased in
importance in the Asia-Pacific region, people might look back on now as a
golden age for buying commercial property, since the long-term trend is
going to be upwards."
Even if demand doesn't pick up in the short term, the government could
potentially help prop up the market by putting state-owned enterprises
into the new buildings. But in the medium term demand will gradually pick
up as foreign companies start to expand again in Shanghai. And the market
will evolve, as Chinese companies will become more likely to set up shop
in a top-tier building.
The central government has reaffirmed its support for Shanghai. Early last
month, it set a target for the city to become an international financial
hub by 2020, which reignited the old chestnut about whether Shanghai or
Hong Kong will emerge supreme as China's prime destination for the
financial industry. If there is an ounce of truth in the government's
schedule, offices in Shanghai will remain a good bet for investors willing
to ride out the current oversupply problems.
- 2009 May FINANCE
Builds World's Second-Biggest Tower, Unfazed by Crisis
Shanghai, already home to two of the
world's five tallest skyscrapers, is building a tower that's even bigger,
undeterred by the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
Groundbreaking for the 632 meter (2,074
feet) tall Shanghai
Tower will take place tomorrow, with completion of what will likely be
the world's second-tallest skyscraper scheduled for 2014. The building,
which will cost about 14.8 billion yuan ($2.2 billion), will stand above
and across the street from the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Jin
Mao Tower, both of which are currently among the world's five tallest.
``The economy is going to be soft so
therefore the construction costs will be very favorable,'' Arthur Gensler,
whose firm designed the Shanghai Tower, said at a briefing today in the
Chinese city. ``The timing couldn't be better.''
The financial crisis that's pushed the
U.S. into its first recession in six years and pulled back growth in China
to the slowest in half a decade has yet to undermine the construction boom
filling Shanghai's skyline with cranes. That may change soon, with
property analysts including CSC Securities HK Ltd.'s Liu Bin forecasting
rising vacancies and falling rents for the city's office buildings.
``From what I can see, the property
market in Shanghai will be bad next year,'' said Bin, who's based in
Shanghai. ``You can expect that rents and prices will fall. It wouldn't
surprise me if some of these developers were forced to sell.''
Rents for prime offices in Lujiazui
fell 6 percent in the third quarter from three months earlier, according
to CB Richard Ellis in Shanghai.
From Big to Small
``Companies are cutting jobs because of
the financial crisis,'' said Clement Luk, director of Centaline
China Property Consultants Ltd. ``A lot of the finance-related businesses
are planning to downgrade their offices from bigger to smaller, from more
expensive properties to cheaper ones.''
China Vanke Co., the nation's biggest
publicly traded real- estate developer, said property sales in October
fell 35 percent from a year earlier. Sales fell 38 percent in September,
35 percent in August and 15 percent in July.
Shanghai Tower will be the
second-tallest after Burj Dubai, which is under construction in the United
Arab Emirates. The building will have 128 floors standing in the heart of
Shanghai's Lujiazui financial center: the Shanghai World Financial Center,
which opened only in August, and the Jin Mao Tower, according to a report
by real-estate information company Emporis,
released last month.
Shanghai Tower has a twisting,
asymmetrical shape that can reduce wind loads -- the forces on a
structure. The new tower will include offices, a luxury hotel, shops and
restaurants. The hotel will be on about the 100th floor and the tower will
have an outdoor observation deck where it will be equipped to collect
rainwater for heating and air conditioning systems.
It will also have 54 wind turbines for
mainly generating night lighting for the structure. Gensler's building
design beat Norman Foster's company to win the project in June this year.
Lujiazui in Pudong district has been developed from farmland two decades
ago, to a financial center.
Gensler, chairman and founder of the
San Francisco-based company with the same name, that designed terminal 2
of Singapore Changi International Airport, and is building the Tameer
Towers in Al Reem Island Abu Dhabi, said his company can't escape from the
global economic crisis.
"'It's going to be a couple of
tough years for us,'" the 73- year-old said. ``A lot of them are in
holding mode until financing is sorted out.'' He expects company sales to
drop 15 percent next year, compared with 2008.
Space in Mori Building Co Ltd.'s
Shanghai World Financial Center, was leased ``faster than expected'' to
almost 50 percent of capacity currently from 40 percent in August, Minoru
Mori, chairman of Japan's biggest privately held developer, said last
month. Demand for space may slow and rentals will come down with the
opening of new office developments in Shanghai, he added.
``Lujiazui is prime location for the
financial industry,'' Centaline's Luk said. ``The tower is meant to
compete with the others to be the tallest and grandest. Properties like
this will become a benchmark for rent. They plan this for the long term.''
- 2008 November 28 BLOOMBERG By
Stephanie Wong and John Liu
Shanghai properties draw pension funds
Overseas pension funds and insurers may
become main buyers of premium office and commercial properties in Shanghai
as shorter-term investors could sell due to falling yields, Jones Lang
LaSalle (JLL) said last week.
Overseas pension funds and insurers may
become main buyers of premium office and commercial properties in Shanghai
as shorter-term investors could sell due to falling yields, Jones Lang
LaSalle (JLL) said last week.
Property investors with a relatively
short-term investment horizon, such as banks and private equity firms, may
have achieved their return targets and consider selling, especially when
investment yields are being compressed, it said.
'Some of the opportunistic and
value-added investors will now be looking to sell because they have met
their IRR (internal rate of return) targets,' the property consultancy
said in a press release.
'Consequently, we believe that the
number of core assets up for sale will rise as these funds realise their
investments,' it said, adding that long-term investors such as pension
funds and insurance firms would likely become the buyers.
Several long-term investors last year
bought major projects, including the US$188 million acquisition of a
Shanghai office property by German pension fund SEB, it said.
Greg Hyland, a JLL director, told
reporters he didn't expect an immediate wave of investment from foreign
insurers and pension funds in Shanghai's property market - partly because
China is trying to cool its property market and some of the recently
introduced measures would complicate cross-border transactions.
Rents and capital value of Shanghai
office and commercial properties are expected to rise, but growth would be
'less explosive' than in 2000-2006 when rents rose 14 per cent annually,
Opportunistic investors, who typically
hold properties for three to five years, have already been hunting for
property projects in second-tier Chinese cities for higher yields, it
Foreign investors, including Wall
Street banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have poured billions of
dollars into Shanghai properties over the past few years, partly driven by
China's currency appreciation.
Strong price rises in Shanghai and
other major Chinese cities such as Beijing have driven down rental yields.
Gross yields on Shanghai office
property fell to below 8 per cent in 2006, although they are still higher
than the around 5 per cent in Hong Kong and Singapore and 4 per cent in
Tokyo, and most fixed-income products, property consultancy CBRE has said.
JLL said that Shanghai's office
property market is becoming attractive to long-term investors because of
the steady demand from international corporations and the growing supply
of grade-A office towers.
The occupancy rate of high-end offices
in Shanghai may stay at around 90 per cent over the next three years, with
investment-grade office supply likely to peak in 2010 - when total space
should reach 6.2 million square metres, JLL said.
- 2007 September 25 REUTERS
Shanghai to curb property buying by
China's biggest city plans to tighten
controls on purchases of property by foreign
companies to help cool surging real estate prices, a newspaper report said
'We no longer encourage foreign
companies to purchase en bloc properties rather thandevelop their own,'
the state-run newspaper Shanghai Daily quoted Liu Jinping, head of the
city's Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Commission, as saying.
'Stricter requirements are applied to
the approval of such acquisition deals to prevent prices from being pushed
up by speculative investors,' Mr Liu said.
The report gave no details on what
further restrictions might be imposed.
The government has already imposed
special taxes and other controls, including a requirement that overseas
institutional investors with investments in China totalling more than
US$10 million hold at least half the investment as registered capital in a
China-incorporated company, the report said.
Real estate purchases accounted for 4.4
billion yuan (S$884 million), or nearly half, of all acquisition deals
between local and overseas companies in 2006, up 44 per cent over the
previous year, according to the report.
Among major deals was the purchase of a
downtown office building by investment bank Morgan Stanley for 1.96
billion yuan. - AP
2007 August 23
Benjamin Wood swings his bulky frame over the
saddle, straps on his helmet, and settles onto a vintage motorcycle with
sidecar. The American architect kicks the engine into life with a single
thrust and pulls into the rush-hour traffic coursing through Shanghai's
trendy Xintiandi district. He soon steers down a narrow street and enters
another world. While Xintiandi is all luxury shops and outdoor cafés, in
surrounding neighborhoods the sidewalks are full of people playing
mah-jongg in their pajamas, washing dishes at outdoor taps, or popping
dumplings into bubbling oil. Life goes on much as it has for the past
As the bike gathers speed, Wood's white silk
jacket flaps in the wind. Passing between some of the fast-disappearing
courtyard houses of Shanghai, he waves at locals making dinner. "They
know me pretty well in this neighborhood, because I like to ride through
here a lot," he says, raising his voice to be heard over the growling
motor. "What they don't know," he adds with a hint of regret,
"is that I'm also the guy who is going to make this way of life
Although few might recognize Wood, virtually
anyone who has spent more than a day or two in Shanghai will know
Xintiandi. The rebuilt neighborhood is Wood's first and best-known work in
China, a collage of cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and graceful
tiled roofs. Xintiandi, which translates as "New Heaven and
Earth," has become one of Shanghai's top tourist destinations.
Foreigners love it because it evokes the colonial era and is one of the
few neighborhoods to escape the wrecker's ball, while locals are drawn to
the bistros, bars, and boutiques that lend it a Western cachet.
Wood's work at Xintiandi has become a symbol of
the changing aspirations China has for Shanghai. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping
declared that Shanghai would be "the head of the dragon" pulling
the country into the future, and the Chinese have poured tens of billions
of dollars into rebuilding the city after a half-century of neglect. The
pace has slackened after a a scandal over municipal pension money spent on
questionable real estate deals, but the city is still booming.
Problem is, Shanghai has long preferred
megaprojects that blindly ape the kind of high-rise developments that
scream "modernity" but have little to do with traditional
Chinese culture. Until Ben Wood, that is. Xintiandi represents Wood's
signature style: Instead of calling in the bulldozers, he imagines a
rundown neighborhood as something refreshed. He refurbishes old buildings,
saves the facades of others while gutting their interiors, and designs new
structures that blend in.
That graceful melding of old and new fits
Shanghai's ambitions as it steams toward its third decade of hypergrowth.
Like Renaissance Florence, London in the 1800s, or New York early in the
20th century, Shanghai aims to muscle its way into a top spot in the
global economic order—a role it played back in the 1920s. Today,
Shanghai is the mainland's most populous city, with 18 million residents.
It's home to the Asia headquarters of more than 150 global corporations,
including General Motors, IBM , and Alcatel-Lucent. And multinationals are
boosting their commitment. GM today employs some 1,800 white-collar
workers in the city, 60% more than in 2004, while Citibank now has 2,000
employees there, up from 80 in 1999. "Shanghai has very visible
ambitions to be a major financial center in the region and perhaps
beyond," says Richard Stanley, CEO of Citigroup China.
Expatriates love Shanghai's nightlife, while
skilled young Chinese and migrant laborers have rushed to cash in on the
city's surging economy. Shanghai is growing at 12%—even faster than the
10.7% expansion that China as a whole saw in 2006—and the city's gross
domestic product was $136 billion last year. That's less than half of
London's, but Shanghai's growth is three times as fast the British
capital's. And Shanghai has attracted some $120 billion in foreign direct
investment since 1992, including commitments of $14.6 billion last year,
or 23% of China's total fdi for 2006. "You are witnessing the
greatest transformation of a piece of earth in history. It's
mind-boggling," says Greg Yager, vice-president of Baltimore design
firm RTKL Associates, which has done planning work in the city.
The opportunities in Shanghai have attracted
scores of foreign architects, who have helped craft one of the world's
most extraordinary skylines. In the financial district of Pudong, which
until two decades ago was little more than rice paddies and small
factories, the 88-story Jin Mao Tower (designed by Chicago's Skidmore,
Owings & Merrill) is home to GM, Credit Lyonnais, and IBM. Next door,
the 101-story Shanghai World Financial Center (from New York's Kohn
Pederson Fox Associates)—originally planned as the world's tallest
building, but now eclipsed by Taiwan's Taipei 101—is about
three-quarters completed. Across the Huangpu River, the 66-story Plaza 66
(by Atlanta-based John Portman & Associates) houses General Electric,
BP, and KPMG. And the once-dilapidated Bund, the erstwhile Wall Street of
Asia on the riverfront, has been re-energized with packed nightclubs, tony
boutiques, and trendy restaurants. "Shanghai is a dynamic, exciting,
increasingly multicultural city," says Robert Pallash, president for
Asia at auto-parts maker Visteon Corp., which moved its regional
headquarters to Shanghai from Japan in 2003. One reason the city won out
over Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Singapore: It's an easier sell for expats.
"It's very important to attract people from the global
organization," Pallash says.
Attracting locals is equally important. The
legions of migrants flocking to Shanghai are filling Visteon's factories,
as well as those of Intel, Philips, Honeywell, and scores of other
multinationals. And the city's universities are churning out thousands of
engineering grads every year, which provides a steady supply of
researchers for labs run by corporations from around the world. At its
facility in Zizhu Science Park, 18 miles southwest of the center, Intel
Corp. now employs 1,000 people, up from about 40 in 2000. A decade ago,
"it was difficult to find a high-quality office building," and
qualified workers were scarce, says Wang Wen-hann, general manager of the
lab. Today, "all these factors have matured," he says.
In neighborhood after neighborhood, though, eight-lane expressways and
steel-and-glass behemoths crowd out gracious townhouses and tenements
dating to the early 20th century. The city has doubled its housing stock
over the past two decades, but most of those new homes are in soulless
skyscrapers. And many of Pudong's towers stand alongside the 100-yard-wide
Century Avenue, a thoroughfare that's nearly impossible to cross and lacks
so much as a kiosk selling newspapers, let alone a sidewalk café. The
district represents "a failure to create a livable urban
environment," says Tom Doctoroff, the chief executive for Greater
China at ad agency JWT Co.
That's a problem for a place with
mega-ambitions. If companies find that Shanghai has become too pricey or
too congested for the kinds of employees they want to attract, it may
quickly fall from the global hot list. Top-quality office space today
costs more than in Midtown Manhattan, and expatriates typically pay $5,000
to $10,000 or even more in monthly rent. The air can be unbreathable, and
the highways are clogged much of the day. "You have a city whose
infrastructure is totally stretched," says Steve Mullinjer, managing
partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles in Shanghai.
"It's like a wild horse...with no way to rein it in."
Controlling that runaway horse is Job One in
Shanghai, and how Shanghai grapples with that issue is important for all
of China. Hundreds of millions of migrants are likely to move to the
mainland's cities in coming decades, and much of the rest of the country
looks to the city for cues. So if Shanghai bulldozes its history to build
highways, you can bet that many other cities will follow suit. Since 2000
the number of cars on the mainland has tripled, and Shanghai and Beijing
are already ringed with single-family homes and new communities accessible
only by car. With 1.3 billion people, the mainland can ill afford the kind
of suburban culture that many seem to want. "The government is now
more aware of quality-of-life issues," says Daniel Vasella, chairman
of pharmaceutical giant Novartis and head of the International Business
Leaders Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai. "They realize
that if you can't deliver [a good standard of living], people won't want
to live there."
Perhaps that's why the Chinese have taken so
readily to Ben Wood. The 59-year-old architect, whose white beard and
ruddy complexion make him seem more like a good ol' boy from his native
Georgia than a hotshot designer, was drawn to Shanghai's street life and
the crowded tenements known as shikumen. These two-story buildings, a mélange
of Chinese and Western styles with carved stone details, had remained
largely untouched since the Communists took over in 1949. But when Wood
arrived in Shanghai in 1998 to design Xintiandi, they were rapidly being
At the Xintiandi site, Wood suggested saving the
structures and creating a walking district that would preserve the sense
of community of old Shanghai. That was a revelation to the city fathers,
who until then had struggled to find an alternate way of expressing
Shanghai's newfound confidence and affluence. Having proved it can
replicate the West in districts such as Pudong, the city was looking for a
second wave of development that wouldn't just import styles wholesale, but
could give shape to its aspirations as a world-class metropolis. Wood
"understands the relationship between new and old buildings,"
says Wu Jiang, deputy director of the Shanghai Urban Planning Bureau.
If Wood has been good for Shanghai, Shanghai has
been equally good to Wood. He kept a relatively low profile in the U.S.,
but in China he's a true star. Xintiandi's success has spawned countless
imitators on the mainland, and Wood has received more than a dozen major
commissions. Today he runs a studio of 30 draftsmen and designers, and
inquiries from prospective clients roll in almost daily. He is working on
a mountain resort, a development similar to Xintiandi in the western city
of Chongqing, and another in Hangzhou, a lakeside city 120 miles southwest
of Shanghai. Wood "is totally different from other foreigners
practicing in China," says Ma Qingyun, a Shanghai architect and now
dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern
California. "He is quite into the human side."
TRICKY POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
To keep Shanghai's growth from tearing apart its urban fabric, the city is
building nine new communities on the periphery that are expected to house
a total of a million or more newcomers by 2020. These projects, called
"One City, Nine Towns," were planned as self-sufficient
satellite cities where residents can live, work, and shop, without having
to travel into central Shanghai. Each was also designed thematically to
resemble the cities of other countries or cultures—a notion some dismiss
as frivolous. In Fencheng, for instance, a Spanish group is creating
streetscapes inspired by Barcelona's Ramblas promenade. Albert Speer, son
of Hitler's favorite architect, is the brains behind Anting, a community
modeled after small cities in Germany and home to the Shanghai Formula One
circuit as well as Volkwagen's joint-venture auto factory. And Thames Town
looks like an English village with cobblestone streets, half-timbered
Tudor buidings, red telephone boxes, and a statue of Sir Winston
Churchill. "It's farcical," Wood says. "Why pretend you are
living in some fantasy land?"
Wood's contribution to the nine towns effort is
less garish. In Qingpu, on the southwestern edge of Shanghai, he is
working on an 830-unit residential complex that draws its inspiration from
the area's ancient canals, bridges, and walkways. His aim, he says, is to
create buildings on a human scale that relate to their environs. "The
biggest problem in China is that the Forbidden City is burned into every
brain," says Wood. "It's symmetrical, monumental, and out of
China's modern-day mandarins can be equally
intrusive. In 2004, Rockefeller Group International, the New York-based
property development arm of Mitsubishi, hired Wood to plan a 30-acre site
the developers call Rock Bund. The project will incorporate a 1928 art
deco theater and more than two dozen colonial-era buildings. Rockefeller
seemed to have everything going for it, including the support of Shanghai
Communist Party Secretary Chen Liangyu.
But in a city changing as rapidly as Shanghai,
you never quite know when you might end up building on political
quicksand. Last September, Rockefeller executives got a disturbing call
from their lawyer, saying, "Our friend is in the slammer." The
friend was Wu Minglie, the chairman of New Huangpu Group, a Chinese
company that was working with Rockefeller. He had been detained and
accused of misappropriating city pension funds for property development.
Shortly thereafter Secretary Chen was sacked in what many believe was a
power struggle with China's central leadership in Beijing. Rockefeller
Group executives declined to comment on the record about the affair, which
a company spokesperson calls "extremely delicate." Though most
projects have been delayed since Chen's ouster, there's no indication that
Rock Bund is in danger of being scuttled.
Despite the headaches, Wood isn't one to shrink
from a challenge. A latecomer to architecture, he didn't start practicing
until he was 36. By that time he had flown fighter jets with the U.S. Air
Force and founded a mountaineering school and a French restaurant in
Colorado. At 31, he enrolled in a graduate architecture program at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He soon started his own firm with
Ecuadoran Carlos Zapata and broke into the big leagues in 1998 with a
commission to rebuild Soldier Field, the Chicago Bears' stadium.
When Wood was in the middle of the Soldier Field
project, he got a call from Hong Kong. Would he pick up a business-class
ticket waiting for him at the airport and come ASAP? Two days later, Wood
was being whisked by limo to the offices of Vincent Lo, chairman of
property group Shui-On. The meeting lasted five minutes. "He told me,
I want you on the next plane to Shanghai and back here tomorrow
morning,'" Wood recalls.
After a few hours wandering the dilapidated
neighborhoods that would become Xintiandi, Wood returned to Hong Kong to
make his pitch. He cited Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace and mountain
villages in Italy as potential models. As luck would have it, Lo was a fan
of the Boston development and had spent time in Tuscany. "After half
an hour, I said, This is the man I want to work with,'" says Lo, who
gave Wood the job over three competing architects. Within six months, some
1,600 families had been relocated to new developments far from their old
homes—not always happily, despite having indoor plumbing and their own
kitchens for the first time. "We did things like take off their roofs
to speed up the process," Wood says.
The irony of Xintiandi's success is that
surrounding blocks have been bulldozed for luxury developments, spelling
the end of the local charm that attracted Wood in the first place. Lo now
wants to turn adjacent property into a theater district that will rival
Broadway or London's West End. Although a few handsome brick buildings
will be saved, the expanded site will also include four theaters, a
68-story office tower and high-end apartments. The outdoor dining,
meanwhile, won't be at dumpling stands, but at upscale restaurants.
"The real tragedy is not the disappearance of the [old buildings],
but of life on the streets," Wood says.
As Shanghai's transformation continues apace,
Wood is likely to be there to watch it unfold and lend a hand where he
can. In 2003, he moved full-time to Shanghai, one of the few foreign
architects to make such a commitment. On any given evening, you're likely
to find him holding court in the dr Bar, a Xintiandi watering hole he
designed and owns, or treating guests to grilled salmon and steaks in his
two-story penthouse, followed by a soak in the outdoor hot tub with views
of the city's ever-changing skyline. Will he ever go back to the U.S.?
Don't bet on it. Shanghai's growth still offers plenty of opportunities,
especially for an architect who understands that it takes more than tall
buildings to make a truly global capital. "If Shanghai is unable to
provide the quality of life of a world city like Paris or London, it will
never become a major financial center," Wood says. "But the wild
west atmosphere is being replaced by more sophisticated development
strategies. And this will ultimately be to Shanghai's advantage." -
Frederick Balfour BUSINESS
WEEK8 February 2007
Ben Wood has neither the theory-ridden
vocabulary nor the matte-black wardrobe typical of maverick architects
these days. With his gentle paunch, worn leather sandals and grizzly white
beard, he comes across as more of a couch potato than a man of action,
though the vintage Chinese army motorcycle and sidecar hint at an
Still, over the last five years Mr. Wood has
transformed himself from a successful Boston architect into a Shanghai
powerbroker whose designs translate into billions of dollars in
The profession’s big players are flocking to
China to compete for commissions. Even the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas
has raved about the opportunities to be had. But Mr. Wood is one of the
very few allowed to build whole neighborhoods without a local associate or
a government institute to sign the construction documents. At his
occasional public appearances in the United States, architects line up to
seek his advice on how to get in on the action.
“I’m trying to change China, and China has
definitely changed me,” Mr. Wood said during a recent interview on
Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his wife were camping in a safari-style
tent. “People have no idea of the scope of the work that’s up for
grabs right now. It’s like the Wild West was in America.’’
The turning point for Mr. Wood, now 58, was his
2003 Xintiandi project in downtown Shanghai, a $200 million two-block
“entertainment environment” stuffed with modern restaurants, clubs,
cafes and boutiques, accessorized with old bricks, stone gates and
ornately carved wooden balconies from the dense warren of old courtyard
houses that previously filled those blocks. Xintiandi proved so successful
a model for urban redevelopment that it spawned at least dozens of
duplicates across the country. Developers now use the term “to Xintiandi”
when asking their architects for more aspirational China-lite designs.
Critics, however, argue that he has undermined
the need to preserve China’s fast-vanishing architectural heritage with
a pastiche that is only one photo-op away from Disneyland. In The New
Yorker magazine Paul Goldberger described Xintiandi as “a stage set of
an idyllic past, created so that people in China can experience the same
finely wrought balance of theme park and shopping mall that increasingly
passes for upscale urban life in the United States.”
Qingyun Ma, an internationally respected
architect in China, said that Xintiandi’s
influence “is such that every city wants to have one.”
“Even I myself have done projects that are
Xintiandi-ish,’’ he said. “However, this unchallenged embrace of one
way is a threat because it abandons other modes of historical practice.”
Mr. Wood has applied his formula to projects all
over mainland China, from Chongqing to Wuhan to Hangzhou. In Hangzhou he
adapted 10 blocks of a sleepy lakeside area into a resort with
pagoda-style roof-scapes, trellis-covered walkways and a high-tech
conference center. For his $80 million Cambridge Watertown project in
Zhujiajiao, he has proposed narrow canals inspired by China’s
13th-century water-town plans stitched together with picturesque foot
bridges and semi-detached contemporary-style condos.
When he ambles through the streets of Shanghai
these days, Mr. Wood said, “some still walk up to me because they
recognize me, and they are happy and proud of the new life” in their old
neighborhood. It sometimes turns out that the well-wishers have been
forced out of their homes and into new high-rise apartment buildings
elsewhere by Mr. Wood’s projects.
“Wood is a star in China,” said Cliff
Pierson, an editor at Architectural Record magazine who manages a biannual
awards program for new Chinese architecture. “China needed someone like
Wood to show them you can make more money by saving rather than tearing
down old buildings. No one had done that before because it was so much
easier to work with a blank slate.
“Now there are dozens of copycats. But it’s
not so much the number that’s so influential but that Wood has changed
the way people with money think about public places.”
In Shanghai, Mr. Wood is now undertaking the
next chapter for Xintiandi: a complete theater district with four
Broadway-style performance spaces, two of which he promises will be
“Andrew Lloyd Weberesque,” with 2,800 seats. For the project, now
under way, Kohn Pedersen Fox architects have also designed a futuristic
oval-shaped skyscraper, which will be accompanied by at least three other
towers, along with a Times-Square-like intersection featuring huge
electronic billboards and — a favorite Wood feature — an artificial
A popular open-air antiques row, now home to
some 180 dealers, will be dismantled, upgraded and rebuilt in replicate
form. About 40 “top dealers” will be readmitted. Underground the whole
thing connects to five levels of parking.
Mr. Wood casts himself as a kind of
swashbuckling suit. After stints as a fighter pilot, restaurateur, ski bum
and contractor, he earned his architecture degree from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in 1984, when he was 37. He then spent 10 years
working for Ben Thompson, the architect and mastermind of something known
in the industry as the festival marketplace. Most visible in places like
Faneuil Hall in Boston and South Street Seaport in New York, it is an
economic juggernaut of arguable distinction wherein the dilapidated gives
way to the upscale and the trendy, all with a dash of old-time historical
“Ben Thompson taught me that architecture
should be about more than just making buildings that don’t fall down,”
Mr. Wood said. He gestured toward a stack of carved timbers from a
150-year-old Chinese temple that he’d seen on the back of a truck in
China. He talked the driver into selling them and now intends to build
with them on property he owns in Martha’s Vineyard.
The call to go to China came in 1998, when Mr.
Wood was running an architecture practice with Carlos Zapata in Boston.
(His best-known project with Mr. Zapata was a controversial stadium
renovation at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.) The two were
invited along with several Western architectural firms, including
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, to enter a Hong Kong developer’s
competition for a two-block neighborhood in old Shanghai. There was a
catch: the site had to be cleared of undesirable elements, and the job had
to be well under way by May 1999 in time for an official visit already
scheduled by President Jiang Zemin.
While other architects suggested tearing out the
old rabbit warren of courtyard houses, built by the French in the 1860’s
on interlaced narrow lanes, Mr. Wood said he could design around and with
them. He got the job.
Working in Shanghai was a revelation. He did not
speak Mandarin, and he hiked around the city for miles so he would be able
to find his way back to his hotel without relying on a cab. “If you say
‘the Ritz,’ some cabdrivers won’t understand you,” Mr. Wood said.
“They call it ‘Por-ta-ma-na’ after John Portman, the architect who
To get a feel for the local vernacular, he asked
guides to take him to any place that hadn’t changed much for a hundred
years or since before there was electricity. He was especially struck, he
said, by the street life along the narrow alleys in the older parts of the
French Concession. Private life was conducted in public to a degree he had
not witnessed elsewhere. “They even walk around outside in their pajamas
and underwear if it’s hot,” Mr. Wood recalled.
At Xintiandi, Mr. Wood fostered communal feeling
in some notably un-Chinese ways. Despite having been warned that there is
no Chinese tradition for alfresco dining, he designed the neighborhood to
be chockablock with outdoor cafes. He also created a wide esplanade
sweeping along the edge of an artificial lake.
Photographs show a waterfront view with a swath
of well-kept lawn, a string of lampposts along a stone path and various
high-rises twinkling at night in the background: hardly a traditional
vista for Shanghai. But local residents have made it their own, Mr. Wood
said, coming down in droves on summer nights to gather for ballroom
dancing or to play Canto Pop on their boomboxes. Xintiandi is also a
magnet for foreign tourists, who flock to its clubs by night.
To make way for all this, many of the 4,500
people who used to live there had to be relocated to modern apartment
buildings; those who did not want to go, Mr. Wood acknowledged, were
likely to find their roofs removed. Such forced relocations are frequently
criticized by foreigners. Locals, perhaps used to even more radical
changes, seem to take them more in stride. Mr. Wood himself simply says
that everyone was fairly compensated. As for the old schoolhouse where Mao
attended the first meeting of the Communist Party, it has been preserved.
Local land values are now soaring. But Mr. Wood
said he was most proud of the way that Xintiandi has attracted small
entrepreneurs who are buying and renting shop fronts for their own
“I was working in unknown territory, and
sometimes it was scary,” he said of that first project. “At the same
time here was someplace where I could do more in 15 years than most
architects do in their entire careers.” So in 2004 he decided to move to
China full time.
Two years later he still comes across as a
hyped-up romantic who relishes the prospect of living big and does not
concern himself overmuch with compromises that a more fastidious architect
To succeed he has had to learn fast about a
place where the word for “fake” is a compliment, meaning something
that did not cost full price. Certain back-alley copy shops, he learned by
grim experience, sell duplicates of the computer discs that architects
drop off for reproduction. It may be only a matter of hours before a
PowerPoint presentation of a new design is available for sale in a pirated
As a result so-called fake firms abound, he
said. Mr. Wood said he sometimes interviewed young Chinese designers who
proudly show him work he knows was actually done by well-known firms like
SOM, Cesar Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox or even his own.
Mr. Wood has also learned the finer points of
etiquette: how to plan for the procession of V.I.P.’s visiting the
construction site in their black cars, or whether to wear a tie to
meetings with representatives of the government (which typically has a 10
percent stake in most large-scale construction). The more elite the
official is, the less likely he’ll be to wear a tie. To get the job, it
pays to show confidence and follow suit.
In spite of such complexities, Mr. Wood said
that building in China had an appealing immediacy. “In the United States
you are not allowed as an architect to speak to a worker on a construction
site, make a suggestion or help figure out a design flaw when it crops
up,” he said, lamenting the protocols regarding liabilities and the
union regulations that govern most American construction sites. On an
American project, “you can’t say anything at all without a lawyer in
tow,’’ he added. “In China they often don’t even bother with
Mr. Wood has opened a martini bar, called DR
(for Design Research, in tribute to a store founded by Ben Thompson that
was a forerunner to Crate & Barrel), in Xintiandi that has become a
pit stop for architects and developers visiting from abroad. “It has a
definite vibe, part SoHo, part Rick’s Place,” said Mr. Pierson of the
Architectural Record. “A lot of expats go there, and Wood loves holding
court. He wears that beard, and in China they tend to automatically
respect people with white beards.”
Mr. Pierson acknowledged that Mr. Wood’s
approach to architecture would not go over well with Western
preservationists. “He keeps facades, moves pieces around, adds windows
where there were none,’’ he said. “If he were doing that with
historic properties in the U.S., I would be more critical. But for China
saving even bits and pieces is an important leap. Ten years from now when
preservation there has become more sophisticated, they’ll be able to
look back and say this was the first important step.”
For Henry Ng of the World Monuments Fund,
freewheeling economic development is “ a threat more lethal than razing
buildings.” And Mr. Wood’s design approach is appealing to Chinese
developers because it shows that “preservation can be profitable,’’
said Mr. Ng, who was reached by e-mail while touring the hutong, or
ancient city lanes, in Beijing.
Mr. Wood is dismissive of the complaints that
his projects have a theme-park air. “That’s only because they are so
clean,” he said. “As for authenticity, consider this: Every sidewalk
paver is made of hand-hammered granite. It takes a day to install four of
Preservation, he said, is not his goal anyway:
“The real point is not the architecture of the place, but the new life a
place attracts. The hutong probably should be torn down. They can’t even
accommodate sewage pipes, let alone cables for everything else people need
today. That doesn’t mean destroy the kind of place they were.”
Still, the heady days when this corner of the
world was a Western architect’s oyster may be winding down. Chinese
architects want the commissions for themselves. “I don’t like being
confronted at every meeting with a room full of architects staring at me
resentfully,’’ Mr. Wood said, adding, “The window is closing quite
For the next stage in his career he wants to
design eco-resorts in Yunnan Province, a rolling mountainous and pasture
region near the Tibetan border that was renamed Shangri-La to attract
tourism development. He envisions visitors staying in tents much like his
own on Martha’s Vineyard.
He has also bought an old Tibetan farmhouse that
he hopes to renovate and where he might be able to keep and fly a 1947
Seabee plane he has had restored.
“I’m going to stay in China a while
longer,” he said. “There are limits to what I can do in the United
States. I don’t fit in with the C.E.O. culture there. But in China being
flamboyant is a good thing.” - by Julie Iovine
YORK TIMES13 Aug 2006
Handel Lee - the man behind this city's most
chic building, "Three
on the Bund" - wants to turn ever-changing Shanghai into a
showcase of contemporary Chinese art.
The 43-year-old Chinese American lawyer spent
the first 20 years of his life in the United States and the second half in
China, where he arrived in 1981. His project for Shanghai started in 1999.
"I wanted to open an art gallery like I did
in Beijing in 1996," he told AFP.
He chose a road running along the Huangpu river,
a once-luxurious strip called "The Bund" that had been a symbol
of the power of the big business and banking of the 1920s and 1930s and
which he wanted to restore to glory.
With a partner, Lee bought a neo-classical
building constructed in 1916 in a Western style. They spent US$48 million
on the building and another US$33 million on renovations.
What resulted has become home to seven floors,
each measuring 12,000 square meters (129,120 square feet), of the most
exclusive fashion, art, spas and restaurants in China's largest and
The plan was undoubtedly influenced by his
parents - his artist mother and engineer father who fled after the
communist party of Mao Zedong took power in 1949.
"Elegance, fine art, culture, lifestyle
went away the 50 past years. It's a tragedy," the elegant lawyer
After 20 years in Maryland and New York, Lee
left the United States to study in Beijing.
He arrived at a time when China was starting to
open to the outside world.
"In 1981, it was a totally different world
from today: very few cars, no private cars, people were very poor,"
"In 1982, I decided to come back
definitely. I was lucky to be born and raised in the United States so I
wanted to do something for China. My parents always reminded me to be
proud of being Chinese," said Lee, who spends his time between
Beijing and Shanghai.
He opened an art gallery in Beijing, but wanted
to do more in Shanghai.
"Chinese people don't understand
contemporary art," he said.
"A restaurant draws people. They relax,
have a good time, meet friends and in that state of mind they can accept
new ideas," he said.
He is frustrated by even the city government's
focus on money and power and lack of interest in culture.
"Today people make money as never before
here. But what makes a great civilization is not an army or economy,"
"The authorities don't do anything. Art,
culture are not emphasized by government. You don't make money with
Lee has scores of other projects up his sleeve,
in Shanghai and also for Tokyo, London and Paris.
And in 2006, he wants to launch another version
of "Three on the Bund" in Beijing in the former U.S. embassy,
close to Tiananmen Square.
He is proud of having built "the most
significant place in Shanghai" but admits the place does not make
"The return on the investment will be long,
but what was most important was to create a space that holds the most
dynamic creative aspects of contemporary society," he said.
"At the moment there are no good Chinese
designers, no good Chinese architects because there is no stimulation, no
creativity." - By
Dominique Ageorges AFP1 Nov 2004
An American Born Chinese Doing Real
Estate Deals in Shanghai
Obsessive people get things done and Handel Lee
is a man obsessed. His mission to restore and convert one of Shanghai's
historic buildings on The Bund into a commercially driven cultural centre
has just been realised.
Phase one of the project, called simply by the
building's address, Three on The Bund, is a contemporary art gallery in
the building's central atrium, which opened for business last month.
This is the culmination of five years of hard
slog since Mr Lee, 42, a Maryland-born son of Chinese immigrants to the
United States, started work on the project in 1999.
With the former 1916 Union Assurance Building on
Shanghai's historic waterfront, he becomes the first foreigner (he is a
United States citizen) to negotiate the purchase of an entire building on
The Bund. Though the mainland's policy on land ownership may have been
eased, it remains almost impossible under current legislation in
high-profile locations. But Mr Lee, an energy sector specialist and
partner in the Beijing office of Houston-based law firm Vinson and Elkins,
Having overcome official roadblocks in 1996 to
open his successful Courtyard restaurant-cum-art gallery in the grounds of
the Forbidden City in Beijing, he knew what perseverance could achieve.
When he moved to Beijing from Washington DC in
1991, Shanghai held little appeal for Mr Lee, who now has homes in both
"I used to hate going there, always dusty,
dirty and chaotic," he admitted. But by 1999 he felt that Shanghai
had shrugged off any chips on its shoulder about being second-best to
Beijing. "Shanghai people felt they were back at the top of business
and society in modern China," he said.
So when he first looked over the seven-storey No 3,
The Bund, Shanghai's first steel-framed building, he was intrigued.
"It was a shell," said Mr Lee.
At that time The Bund was designated the
"financial Wall Street of China, but it wasn't happening so the
government started promoting Pudong as the financial centre instead",
Impressed by the "amazing building and
location", he saw an opportunity to do "something very different
and special. It may sound naive and idealistic but I wanted to do
something to help establish standards of culture in Shanghai. I wanted to
create something where society could share culture and art." It was
the same concept behind the Courtyard in Beijing, he explained. "So
many young Chinese people have never experienced art for real."
First he had to convince the Shanghai planners
of the wisdom of his Renaissance vision for the building they saw as a
potential bank or office.
"We were told The Bund was not zoned for
`entertainment' purposes, so we had to get a variance to do something
different," he said.
"We got tremendous support from the higher
levels of government - and tremendous opposition lower down."
At the time there was confusion about the future
of The Bund, and many mid-ranking officials were loath to approve anything
that might go against final policy.
Being a business lawyer, he "set up
structures that achieve a business goal", said Mr Lee.
It is not a 50-50 split but Mr Lee and his
partners, Grand Tour Tires, a Singapore property developer and tyre maker,
are shareholders in the project.
He has put his own money in the project, which
had an overall investment of about US$47 million, he said. "I wish it
The Shanghai government was firmly behind the
project, he said, and a Chinese bank had provided funding, though he would
not say which one.
Three on The Bund is set to be Shanghai's
hippest and classiest entertainment centre.
It will have China's first Evian Spa, exclusive
French and Japanese restaurants, a jazz lounge and private tea salons. The
first two floors will house A-list luxury and fashion brands and a
Bernardaud Cafe. Mr Lee is overseeing what will be the largest art gallery
in Shanghai. He is convinced its central location in the building's atrium
is justified by the interest China's nouveaux riches are showing in art.
"We want to show significant contemporary
art, and yes, we want to sell it, maybe to bankers, offices and hopefully
to collectors so it stays in China," he said.
Paintings will cost from tens to hundreds of
thousands of dollars, he admits, but promises affordable prints. As for
the future of Three on The Bund, he has no exit strategy. "It's a
commercial venture, but aside from a financial return it's something we
plan to keep and hold for a very long time."
Investment holding company House of Three, of
which Mr Lee is executive chairman, is developer and owner of Three on The
Established in March 2000, it is incorporated in
Hong Kong and is the first privately owned company to obtain approval to
develop and own a building on The Bund.
Three on The Bund was the company's first
private-equity backed venture in China, Mr Lee said. "I hope it will
be profitable soon. When we achieve a return on our investment is another
thing, but we're looking at a five- to seven-year investment horizon
before we see a return," he said.
What next for Mr Lee? He has started on a new
project with the same partners, Grand Tour Tires. "I can't tell
you yet what it is, but it's as central and important a location as The
Bund, but in Beijing." - SOUTH
CHINA MORNING POST 9 Feb 2004
It's hard to imagine where all those
cigar-puffing foreign businessmen and cognac-sipping Chi-nese
entrepreneurs spent their time before Three on the Bund opened last year.
The renovated 1916 building on Shanghai's historic waterfront is a
monument to the Chinese dream and the money flowing into the world's
hottest market. Designed by American architect Michael Graves, it houses,
inter alia, four of the city's top eateries, a spa with rivers of flowing
Evian, and the city's flagship Armani store. At the velvet-swathed Jean
Georges restaurant, tycoons hammer out transpacific deals over
East-meets-West cuisine, while at the Shanghai Gallery of Art,
trendsetters browse pricey, contemporary Chinese paintings. But by far the
most exclusive spot in this modern-day pleasure palace is the Cupola—the
building's domed lookout, which offers both eight-seater and two-seater
private dining chambers. The food, courtesy of any of Three on the Bund's
restaurants, is tasty enough, but it's the view—of the futuristic
skyscrapers of the Pudong business district across the river and the
neoclassical financial institutions down the embankment—that is
superlative. What better place to toast the 21st century than this lofty
crossroads of old and new China? - TIME
MAGAZINE 2005 June 27
The cost of renting high grade offices in
Shanghai is close to overtaking that of downtown New York, according to a
new survey which underlines China’s rapid economic growth.
The Pudong district in the Chinese city is now
the 41st most expensive place to occupy in the world, just behind lower
New York at 40th.
For the first time, China has three districts in
the Global Market Rents Top 50 compiled by CB Richard Ellis, the property
agents, which measures prime A-grade property across the world.
These are Pudong (41), Shanghai’s new business
district, Puxi (48), the city’s more established commercial area, and
The trend reflects China’s emergence as a
global economic power.
China’s trade surplus with the US is now
running at around $160bn a year. For 2004, its gross domestic product
increased 9.5 per cent while industrial production was up 16 per cent.
This growth has been accompanied by an explosion
of construction, especially in China’s biggest cities, whose population
has mushroomed due to an influx of rural labourers.
However, the speed of property development in
China has raised fears of a bubble that could burst if demand slowed down.
In Puxi, for instance, vacancy levels are running between 25 per cent and
30 per cent.
“Although Beijing and Shanghai are
oversupplied at the moment, that supply is of questionable quality and
aimed at the local market rather than international investors,” said
Michael Haddock of CBRE. “The space that is built to suitable
specifications and appropriate for international occupiers is limited,
pushing up the price.”
China-based property experts said demand for
prime office properties in Shanghai, and especially Puxi, was strong late
last year. While Shanghai’s residential prices and rents have fallen
since early 2004, office prices and rents have continued to rise,
according to property researchers DTZ.
David Hand, managing director for Jones Lang
LaSalle in Beijing, said that compared with a decade ago, China’s larger
cities were not at risk of witnessing a major price correction since the
volumes of both supply and demand had risen sharply since then, making for
a healthier market.
But he nonetheless pointed out China’s
property market remained “embryonic” in many respects.
“We still have to get to the point where there
is an active secondary market,” added Anna Kalifa, the head of research
for Jones Land LaSalle in Beijing.
Mr Hand also noted that multinationals generally
preferred to lease expensive office space while Chinese companies were
more prone to buying properties.
A handful of international property developers
are taking their first tentative steps into the Chinese market, although
the risks and barriers to entry are still considered high.
Meanwhile, London’s West End remains the most
expensive location in the world, at $191.60/sq ft a year. It is followed
by London’s City at $125.80, central Tokyo at $124.36, outer Tokyo at
$119.51 and Paris at $96.12.
By contrast, downtown New York is $37.80/sq ft a
year and Pudong in Shanghai is $37.61.
Some experts caution against direct comparisons
of office costs, given that rent is often measured in different ways in
different countries. - By Jim Pickard in
London and Andrew Yeh in Beijing FINANCIAL
TIMES 26 January 2005
Fast-lane Shanghai hit by power crunch,
Shanghai is expected to show slower economic growth
this year as China's richest city and commercial stronghold grapples with
power crunches, a property bubble and traffic snarls, the mayor said on
The city of 20 million -- roughly the population
of Australia -- should nonetheless grow 11 percent and rack up its 14th
year of double-digit growth, mayor Han Zheng told an annual meeting of the
Despite electricity shortages brought on by a
scorching summer and frigid winter and Beijing's efforts to rein in
investment in sectors from steel to property nationwide, Shanghai's
economy grew 13.5 percent in 2004 -- its fastest rate since 1998.
Han said the city would build more power plants
and encourage energy conservation after a summer heat wave forced 1,000
firms to shut temporarily for the second year running, including
Volkswagen AG's local plant.
A freezing winter also taxed the grid, at one
point forcing more than 800 firms to shift production to graveyard shifts.
"We will enhance our energy security by
developing a number of electrical power and liquefied natural gas
projects," he told parliament members in a Russian-style exhibition
hall, without giving details.
Shanghai raised power generating capacity by
more than 10 percent in 2004 and plans to invest another 20 billion yuan
($2.42 billion) to improve grid transmission.
Han, mayor since 2003, also took aim at soaring
property prices and increasingly gridlocked traffic, two other corollaries
of breakneck growth, promising more affordable housing and greater
investment in roads and public transport.
The city is luring multinationals seeking a
manufacturing base in low-cost China, but also houses the Asian
headquarters of the world's largest auto maker, General Motors Corp , and
U.S. conglomerate Honeywell International Inc. .
Shanghai hosted a Formula One Grand Prix in 2004
and is preparing for the World Expo in 2010.
Actual foreign investment rose 12 percent to
$6.54 billion in 2004, while exports leapt 52 percent to $73.5 billion,
Booming trade propelled Shanghai past Rotterdam
to become the world's second-busiest port in 2004. Container traffic rose
29 percent to 13.55 million 20-foot equivalent units.
Some previous Shanghai mayors have gone on to
join the rarefied ranks of China's cabinet in Beijing, including former
president Jiang Zemin and former premier Zhu Rongji.
Concerns had surfaced Shanghai may be losing its
attraction for multinationals compared with cheaper Chinese cities,
because of rising housing and consumer goods prices, traffic jams and
"If not addressed promptly and effectively,
they will undermine Shanghai's long-term development," Han said.
"We must take these problems very seriously." ($1=8.276 Yuan) -
18 January 2005
Having grown at a phenomenal rate in the past
several years, Shanghai's residential property market continues to improve
but has eased into a steadier pace. The buoyant rebound has been in part
due to speculative buying and developers cashing in on the rising demand.
However, to avert any possible overheating, the
government introduced several measures in the past year such as more
stringent regulations for developers, credit access and transfer of
properties. With fears of excessive supply and speculative activity in
check, the market has been brought into better balance.
Since the last trough in 1999, home prices have
risen some 90 per cent. In 2003 alone, prices went up 25-40 per cent while
the increase has moderated to 12-15 per cent for the first eight months of
Investment grade properties, which encompass
mid- to high-end apartments or villas in the US$1,500-US$2,000 psm price
range, have also seen their prices rise - possibly even more for those in
the city centre due to their limited supply.
With supply of investment grade developments in
prime locations being restrained by recent regulations, existing or
soon-to-be-launched projects will be well placed to meet the still-rising
Two such properties coming up in the next six
months are phases two and three of New Westgate Garden at Fuxing/Zhaozhou
Road near Huaihai Road and Chevalier Place in the prime district of
Apart from capital appreciation, rental demand
remains healthy as more multinational corporations continue to make
Shanghai their regional base. High-end apartments in the city are usually
the preferred choice of expatriates and can command an average rent of
US$17 psm per month, translating to yields of 7-8 per cent.
Unlike other Asian countries that have a more
mature economy and property market, Shanghai's economy and property market
are still at the growth stage. Demand for housing will continue to grow -
both for owner occupation and investment - and prices should continue to
see a steady rise in tandem with economic growth. - 2004
Plaza 66, Citic, Portman, New Sogo, Times
Square, Three on the Bund and soon 18 on the Bund: in China's wealthiest
city Shanghai, skyscrapers are pushing through old suburbs and temples to
'Five years ago, there were about 20-30 luxury
shops here. Today, everyone is here and their networks in continental
China are becoming more and more significant,' McKinsey management
consultant Jacques Penhirin told AFP.
Christian Dior, which has been in China since
1998, has, for example, doubled its space at its top-flight Plaza 66 store
and is planning to open Dior Hommes in December to join Hermes, Vuitton,
Prada, Celine, Versace and Cartier at the elite location. Shanghai is the
most international city in China and counts a high number of Western and
Asian expatriates among its population of 17 million people.
Many among the Chinese diaspora have also
returned to put down roots, such as Yue-Sai Kan, one of the most powerful
women in China.
In 1992, she successfully launched the first
Chinese cosmetics company, which has since come under the control of
cosmetics giant L'Oreal with Ms Kan as vice-president of its China
But Shanghai is an expensive city in a largely
poor nation, in which McKinsey estimates only 300,000 people in a
population of 1.3 billion have more than US$1 million in assets, excluding
property. This has made the metropolis merely a shopwindow for most,
displaying luxury items that are highly taxed in mainland China.
'Prices can be 30 per cent higher in Shanghai
compared to Hong Kong,' Mr Penhirin said.
People are still buying though, with gifts to
smooth business transactions and pamper wives and mistresses making up a
'not insignificant' part of the turnover, he said.
Dior couture and perfume Asian representative
Pierre Denis is in no doubt that 'luxury in Shanghai, as in China, is a
'China, with Hong Kong and Taiwan, represents 10
per cent of the business of Christian Dior couture,' he told AFP.
For Chinese consumers, who have suffered many
years of privation under communist rule, 'luxury begins with handbags and
skin creams or lipsticks', he said.
Most interested are a new generation of women in
business, aged between 25 and 35, he said.
Nonetheless, an average Dior bag is double the
city's average monthly wage, retailing for 6,000-8,000 yuan
(S$1,205-1,607) with the mean salary between 3,000 and 4,000 yuan.
Not all the labels have set up shop in Shanghai,
but the most important are here and they agree that there is strong
potential in the Chinese market.
It is a matter of 'familiarising the Chinese
with the new names that they do not know and are beginning to see in the
local fashion magazines', Mr Denis said. - AFP
2 Nov 2004
Among Shanghai’s home-grown talent are Joan
Chen, the glamorous, American-based actress who starred in ‘‘The Last
Emperor’’ and ‘‘Twin Peaks,’’ painter Chen Yifei and veteran
soccer star Fan Zhiyi, whose athletic prowess helped China reach the World
Cup finals for the first time.
Shanghai is the only Chinese
city with two international airports. The new facility at Pudong handles
the bulk of international flights, while the older Hongqiao has domestic
flights and short-haul flights to such destinations as Hong Kong.
The legendary Peace Hotel Jazz
Band is still going strong nightly. When China opened up to tourism in the
1980s, the old-timers regrouped and have even been on overseas tours,
playing the traditional jazz they used to play in nightclubs in pre-1949
Actor Dennis Hopper, known for
his role in the influential movie ‘‘Easy Rider,’’ recently wound
up filming a futuristic television series in Shanghai.
When former U.S. President Bill
Clinton stayed at the Portman Ritz-Carlton, chefs rustled up the
president’s preferred low-fat breakfast muffins and - to feed
accompanying bodyguards and staff - placed orders for 8,000 eggs, 200
kilograms (440 pounds) of fruit and 300 Peking ducks.
One of the city’s most famous
dishes is Shanghai hairy crabs, only in season for a short time (usually
mid-to-late November) and much prized by gourmet diners in Shanghai and
Mao-tai, the fiery and powerful
rice wine used to toast people at traditional banquets in Shanghai and
other parts of China, won an award at the San Francisco World Expo back in
The top-selling household
appliance in Shanghai is the color television. Some 806,914 are purchased
annually, followed by 428,585 electric fans and 420,585 air conditioners.
Shanghai Port aims for #1
Shanghai government's port operator is planning to spend 5 billion yuan,
or $604 million, on the first phase of a deepwater project that may make
the city the world's biggest container handler by 2010.
Shanghai Port Container and its
state-owned parent company will invest the money in Yangshan port, which
is being constructed 28 kilometers, or 17 miles, from China's largest
commercial city, the company said Saturday in a statement in the Shanghai
China is pushing ahead with the $16
billion project to help end transport bottlenecks caused by surging
foreign trade. Overseas operators, including Hutchison Whampoa and PSA,
have expressed interest in investing in Yangshan, which is designed to
handle 25 million standard containers annually, more than Hong Kong's
total of 21 million containers last year.
"The investment will help to ease
berth constraints for Shanghai port and create room for future
expansion," said Ma Ying, a Shanghai-based analyst at Haitong
Securities. Shanghai Port's "earnings may get a boost from 2006 after
the Yangshan Port starts operation."
Chinese ports including Shanghai,
Ningbo and Shenzhen handled 48 million 20-foot cargo containers last year,
30 percent more than in 2002 and surpassing the United States for the
first time, China\'s Ministry of Communications said in January.
Hong Kong is the world's busiest port, handling 21 million containers last
year, followed by Singapore with 18 million and Shanghai with 10.65
million, the Oriental Morning Post said in January. Shanghai's
container traffic may more than double to about 25 million containers by
2010, Shanghai Port said. Yangshan port, which will have 52 berths
when completed in 2020, will enable bigger container ships to dock at
PSA, which operates Singapore's port,
Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, and
P&O Ned Lloyd Container Line are among overseas companies that have
been in talks to invest in the project, the Shanghai government has said.
. China's container shipments are still rising after the government
introduced measures this year to cool economic growth, shipping lines such
as China Ocean Shipping Group and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha of Japan said last
Shipments to and from China rose 29
percent in May, according to the latest figures from the London-based
Drewry Shipping Consultants. That was the same rate as April and higher
than March. . The government is trying to slow economic growth to 7
percent this year, from a seven-year high of 9.1 percent in 2003, by
clamping down on lending to industries such as steel and real estate,
where an investment boom has contributed to transport bottlenecks, energy
shortages and rising raw materials prices.
China's exports surged 47 percent
in June to a record $51 billion, while imports jumped 51 percent to $49
billion, the Beijing-based Ministry of Commerce said last week. The
nation's share of world trade has tripled to about 7 percent in the past
decade, making China the world's third-largest importer.
Shanghai Port will spend 2.55 billion yuan to take a 51 percent stake in
Shanghai Yangshan International Container Wharf, the company said in its
statement. Shanghai International Port will invest 2.45 billion yuan for
the remainder, it said. . Shanghai Port's net income rose 28.3 percent to
998.8 million yuan last year from a year earlier as revenue climbed a
third to 3.3 billion yuan. First-quarter profit dropped 7.6
percent because of higher costs, while sales jumped 20.5 percent to 912.8
million yuan. . Shareholders will vote on the investment plan on Aug. 20,
the company said. Shanghai Port may sell additional shares or convertible
bonds to finance the investment, said Ma at Haitong.
- by Jianguo Jian
News July 19, 2004
Broadway producers dream of China
NEW YORK: If
starry-eyed young actors dream of making it big one day on Broadway, what
do starry-eyed Broadway producers dream of? China, baby.
Next week the Nederlanders, one of the
big three Broadway theater owners, are planning to announce the details of
a new company they have formed that, among other things, will present and
market tours and live entertainment in China. The entry of the
Nederlanders into the Asian market is only the latest sign of how sizzling
it has become.
"The Broadway brand is very hot to
them," said Simone Genatt, one of the creators of Broadway Asia
Entertainment, a company that produces and presents tours in Asia.
"There are a lot of theaters going up across mainland China."
The company, Nederlander New Century,
to be unveiled officially next week, was first put together a year ago as
a joint venture of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment and a group based
in China, Beijing Time New Century Entertainment. The plan was first
reported in Crain's New York.
Broadway shows have been in Japan for
years and the touring business has been spreading to South Korea,
Singapore and other Asian countries. China represents a significantly
larger marketplace. In September 2005, its Ministry of Culture announced
that it would allow foreign investment in the entertainment industry;
Nederlander New Century is the first company to be established under the
Taking Broadway to China over the past
decade has been a slow process and at times a thorny one; presenters
sometimes have to cope with a bramble of bureaucracy and an audience that
is by and large unfamiliar with the Western musical.
It does not help that most of the
productions presented have been in English. Tickets are less expensive in
China, so the tours need to be produced more efficiently.
But the rush of eager producers and
presenters is growing crowded. At the head of the pack are three
operations based in New York: Broadway Asia Entertainment; the British
impresario Cameron Mackintosh (who brought a production of "Les Misérables"
to China in 2002); and Disney Theatricals, part of Walt Disney Co.
Independent tours are dancing into
China as well: A tour of "Mamma Mia!" will go to Beijing for a
short engagement in August.
Broadway Asia Co. was created in 1991
by Genatt and Marc Routh. Two and a half years ago it entered into a
formal partnership — creating Broadway Asia Entertainment — with the
Frankel/Viertel/Routh/Baruch Group, the producing and management company
behind "Hairspray," "The Producers" and the latest
revival of "Sweeney Todd."
Broadway Asia, which holds the Asian
licensing rights to the Rodgers & Hammerstein library, has already
produced a tour of "The Sound of Music" in China. Tours of
"The King and I" and Chinese-language versions of "SpongeBob
SquarePants Live!" and the Off Broadway musical "I Love You,
You're Perfect, Now Change" are scheduled to begin in the next few
Genatt said Broadway Asia was also
creating theatrical training schools in several Asian cities, teaching the
fundamentals of musical theater performance. Although the labor for the
shows is local, the performers in the tours have in most cases come from
"We want to help build the
infrastructure for the future of Chinese touring," Genatt said,
adding that Broadway Asia was one of the producers of a planned $12
million original Chinese musical, "The Monkey King."
Disney Theatricals jumped into the mix
in 1995, when "Beauty and the Beast" opened in Tokyo. Four yeas
later, a licensed Chinese-language production of "Beauty" was
presented in Beijing, where it ran for four weeks.
David Schrader, managing director and
chief financial officer of Disney Theatricals, said one of the main
challenges in many parts of Asia was finding theaters. Major cities like
Beijing and Shanghai have elaborate performing arts centers that play host
to orchestral and dance performances, leaving small gaps for theater.
The government is building more
theaters and converting some buildings that were meant for other uses. But
given the current landscape, Schrader said, touring is more logical than
producing blockbusters from the ground up. That has not stopped Disney
from trying for extended runs.
The longest engagement for Disney so
far — and for any Western musical, Schrader said — was a 13-week run
of "The Lion King" at the Shanghai Grand last year.
- by Campbell Robertson INTERNATIONAL
HERALD TRIBUNE 14 March 2007
Shanghai Covets a Big Role on
Asia's Cultural Stage Chang
W. Lee/The New York Times
A visitor with masks at the Shanghai Museum, one of several new spaces in
With its bold and luminous cut-glass design, the
Shanghai Grand Theater can stake a claim to being the heart of this city,
and the dazzling impression it makes fits this pulsing business center's
glittery self-image to a T.
On a recent night here, as a full house settled
in to watch an entirely Chinese production of a Broadway-style dance
theater show, "Wild Zebra," the opening event in an
international dance competition, the city's vice mayor delivered a booming
inaugural exhortation that recalled the style of party cadres past.
Shanghai, he announced stiffly, is moving toward
the great goal of creating a modern international culture center in Asia.
His language was perhaps a bit blunt, but given Shanghai's cultural
ambitions, it was difficult to gainsay the message for exaggeration.
For as long as the Communist Party has ruled
China, Shanghai has suffered a deep inferiority complex in relation to the
capital, Beijing. The early 20th century was Shanghai's moment in the sun,
when it had a global reputation as a flashy and fleshy sin city with
top-flight Western architecture and a cabaret culture to match.
But much of what was most vibrant then was
derived from abroad, at a time when the country was carved up into
imperial concessions, and Shanghai was China's main door to the world.
Before that, Shanghai, a mere infant of a city, had hardly registered in
the long tableau of Chinese history.
Nowadays the city's cultural profile is changing
as fast as its skyline, which barely 15 years ago was a drab and low-slung
jumble and today ranks easily as one of the world's most fantastic.
Determined to raise the city to the level of regional rivals like Tokyo
and Hong Kong as well as Beijing, Shanghai officials have made culture a
Beijing has its Forbidden City, its prestigious
national schools and museums, its centuries-old neighborhoods that breathe
Chinese culture, none of which Shanghai can realistically challenge. But
like Tokyo, all but destroyed in World War II, this city is making a
virtue of its newness.
As a cornerstone of the revival, which began in
earnest in the early 1990's, the Shanghai government spent $226.8 million,
an immense sum in a country still classified as a developing nation, to
build a world-class cultural complex in the center city. The recently
built structures include the Shanghai Grand Theater, the equally striking
Shanghai Museum, in the shape of an ancient Tang vessel, and the Shanghai
The city's investment in premium performance and
exhibition spaces, though still modest in comparison with major Western
artistic centers, has given Shanghai not only a blush of self confidence
but also a cockiness in its rivalry with Beijing.
"Shanghai can already attract talent from
all over the country, in fact all over the world," said Chen Feihua,
director of the Shanghai dance school that created "Wild Zebra."
"Our production values are broader and fit international tastes.
`Wild Zebra' has toured on the best stages of Europe, Paris, Berlin,
Madrid and other cities, and there is a business element to this that is
very particular to Shanghai." He continued: "We go into these
markets, and when we return home, we don't just smile and wave goodbye, we
bring home 10 million euros. Our friends in Beijing look at our ability to
do something like this with a lot of envy."
Shanghai's strategy of build and hope the
visitors come seems to be gathering momentum but draws mixed reviews even
among the city's artists, who are debating how the city goes about
becoming a world-class cultural center.
An ambitious private museum, the Shanghai
Gallery of Art, opened in January at Three on the Bund, a lavishly
restored building in the historic riverfront district. It has become a
premier place for displaying new Chinese artists and established stars.
"Shanghai has already become an attractive cultural city," Weng
Ling, director of the museum, said. "What we need now is more
professionalism, more cultural exchanges and more support for
Across the Huangpu River in the Pudong district,
reclaimed swampland that is now home to the city's tallest, most gaudily
lighted skyscrapers, the city government is planning a new art museum in
collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum in New York, raising doubts among
some who wonder whether Shanghai is going too far, too fast.
"A year ago someone told me that China has
built 35 cultural complexes, but who is going to perform in them?"
asked Kai-Yin Lo, a Hong Kong designer who has advised that city on its
artistic development. "The Germans and the Japanese have learned the
lesson of hardware: that without the software, you can't maintain the
flow. Just look at Bilbao."
"Freedom, too, is very important," she
added. "That is what we in Hong Kong can boast."
Urban and cultural development experts agree
that museums and other institutions are a starting point. But they say
that to emerge as a real cultural powerhouse, a city must fulfill a
variety of criteria, including some that defy government planning here.
"Cities that are really vibrant are
creative in a lot of different ways," said Richard Florida, a
professor of economic development at Carnegie Mellon University in
Pittsburgh and the author of "The Rise of the Creative Class . . .
And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday
Life." "You look at a city like Pittsburgh, which built huge
artistic institutions, really huge places, and drove all of their artists
out — people like Andy Warhol or Billy Strayhorn, because they were too
edgy and unconventional, or maybe gay."
Professor Florida said that so far the greatest
cities of East Asia were falling short of these criteria. "It is
important to have the institutions, but you also need vibrant street
culture and an open culture, not only openness toward ethnic diversity,
but also diversity in sexual orientation and freedom of expression,"
he said. "Asia certainly needs a city like this, and Shanghai could
be the one. Certainly the city that figures it out first will have some
By reputation Shanghai is China's most
cosmopolitan city, but even some artists who have succeeded here say the
city falls short of the diversity needed to become a world-class cultural
"They don't have any international
students, and I haven't noticed any international teachers, either,"
said Yuan Yuan Tan, 28, a native of Shanghai who dances with the San
Francisco Ballet. "If Shanghai wants to be an international cultural
center, they have to do something about that. The reason I left is that I
wanted to explore what ballet is all about, and if I had stayed put, that
wouldn't have happened.
By one important measure, however, Shanghai has
already succeeded. Increasingly, artists based here have proved they can
flourish internationally with little need, as in the past, to go to
Beijing first to establish themselves.
"As a new city, the software or the quality
of the people and their artistic taste has to be boosted gradually,"
said Yang Fudong, a specialist in elaborate and deliberately puzzling
multimedia displays who has become one of China's best known artists
At the Shanghai Gallery of Art recently, Mr.
Yang was putting the finishing touches on a new exhibit, a labyrinthlike
construction with two film projectors casting their images across the
faces of people who wander inside. "In Shanghai I see people taking
in the shows, going to the museums, even taking their children to the
museums, and that's a beautiful thing," he said. "One doesn't
become a fat man overnight, so we shouldn't be impatient."
YORK TIMES Published:
July 7, 2004
Whether you call them delusions of grandeur or
visionary thinking, China's biggest city has plans that are nothing if not
Jan 15th 2004 | SHANGHAI
From The Economist print edition
Apart from a dozen Chinese
tourists posing for a photograph, the platform at the oval dome-covered
Longyang Road Station is nearly empty as the world's fastest train pulls
in. Minutes later, with all but a handful of its 500 seats unoccupied, the
train glides off, levitating on an electromagnetic cushion that propels it
with barely a judder to its top speed of 430kph (267mph). It takes just
eight minutes to complete the journey to Pudong International Airport, an
ultra-modern structure of glass and steel 30km (19 miles) away.
Considering the thrill of being on the
world's first maglev train in commercial use—and the half an hour or
more saved on the journey—it might seem odd that so few people are
trying it out. Since daily services were launched on December 29th, about
1,000 tickets a day have been sold on weekdays (out of 12,000 available).
At weekends, when novelty-seekers are out in greater numbers, the total
still only rises to about 5,000, according to Song Xiaojun, general
manager of Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. If the arrival
of maglev is a great boon to Shanghai's overburdened transportation
system, few appear to be aware of it.
It is more than just a cautious approach to rolling out this new,
German-supplied, technology that is keeping numbers down. While other
countries, including Germany itself, have hesitated about adopting maglev
because of the high cost and uncertain returns, Shanghai has happily
poured $1.2 billion into its track—even though a glance at a map
immediately suggests the risks involved. Longyang Road Station, the only
stop apart from the airport, is on the city's eastern fringe, a
considerable distance from most residential areas. A taxi ride between the
airport and Longyang costs little more than the 75 yuan ($9) price of a
maglev ticket and saves the hassle of a transfer.
Shanghai's gamble on maglev, in which
seven big state-owned companies have a stake, reflects an approach to the
city's development that places great store on massively expensive and
commercially dicey projects. Since the early 1990s Shanghai has been
driven by a desire to reclaim its pre-communist era status as a regional
financial capital and a cosmopolitan haven for international capitalists
eager to penetrate the Chinese market—that lavish but raffish world
immortalised in Vicki Baum's novel, “Shanghai '37”. China's former
prime minister, Zhu Rongji (who previously served as Shanghai's party
chief and is normally known for his hard-headedness), strongly backed the
maglev project when it got under way in 2000.
Cynics should perhaps beware. The
city's “build it and they will come” mentality has, after all, paid
off handsomely before. Many people scoffed when Shanghai announced plans
in 1990 to develop what was then just an expanse of marshy land, villages
and old factories into the city's new financial district. Today Pudong, as
the area is called (and where the maglev is located), is a stunning
conglomeration of soaring office towers and hi-tech factories (pictured
above) that has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign
investment. Last year, it is reckoned, it sucked in just under $6 billion,
more than a tenth of the total for the entire country.
In the next few years, changes in
Shanghai—whose GDP, according to the official figures, grew last year by
a sizzling 11.8%—could be similarly dramatic. In September, the city is
due to host China's first Formula One car-racing event. This has involved
one of the biggest outlays of any Formula One venue in the world, with
$310m being spent on a 5.5km circuit and related facilities now under
construction on the western outskirts of the city.
The plan is to turn this into the
centrepiece of a new “auto city” in which all aspects of the industry
from manufacturing to sales will be concentrated. Yu Zhifei, deputy
general manager of the track's developers, Shanghai International Circuit
Co, admits that a lot of Chinese do not know what Formula One is and that
many who do are sceptical about the track's ability to make money. But he
says he is confident that the facility, with a seating capacity of
200,000, will turn a profit as Chinese consumers' new-found penchant for
cars continues to grow apace.
The car craze is evident in the
worsening congestion of Shanghai's streets. But to the maglev's operators,
this is comforting. “Within a few years, it'll be very inconvenient to
take the road to the airport,” enthuses Mr Song. And next year, he says,
work should begin on extending the line another 7km to the site where the
World Expo will be held in 2010 on the banks of the Huangpu River, much
closer to the city centre. The hope is that it will become the main way to
visit the fair, an event that lasts several months.
Shanghai's planners regard the World
Expo as the city's greatest opportunity to show off its resurgent glory.
Scepticism may abound about the ability of World Expos to generate
profits. Hanover, site of the last such event in 2000, suffered a
disappointing turnout. But Shanghai sees it as comparable to Beijing's
hosting of the Olympic Games in 2008: an event that will fix the world's
attention on the city's, and the country's, achievements. Compared to
that, the $3 billion needed to build the facilities and relocate tens of
thousands of residents to the outskirts is a trifle. And, anyway, by then
the maglev's operators hope to be making a profit.
Shanghai ends reign of the bicycle
Its biggest city, Shanghai, plans to ban bikes
from all major roads next year to ease congestion, state-run newspapers
said on Tuesday.
Police will also raise fines tenfold for such
cycling infractions as running red lights, Shanghai Daily reported.
Once hailed as the perfect form of proletarian
transport, the bicycle used to reign supreme in China as undisputed king
of the road.
In fact it was the only way most people had of
getting to work.
Each morning, swarms of blue-coated cyclists
would pour down special cycle lanes or often fill entire roads, making it
hard for the occasional goods lorry or communist party limousine to pass.
Shanghai was a major centre of the world's biggest bicycle industry and
home to many of the earliest factories turning out such brands as Flying
Pigeon, Phoenix and Forever.
In recent years, though, Shanghai has developed
into a centre of China's new car industry and growing affluence has
created a surge in private car ownership.
The number of private cars in Shanghai is
expected to top 200,000 by the end of this year.
But while bikes may not be considered cool by
the new middle classes, there are still a lot of them about.
Shanghai's urban population of some 20 million
own some 9 million bicycles - and the number continues to grow by 1
million per year.
A lot of people are angry at the new rules,
saying it is the rising number of cars that are the problem rather than
"The way things are now, with cars, bikes
and pedestrians all competing desperately for space, it's complete
chaos," one resident told BBC News Online.
"But it is very sad that bicycles are the
ones that have to go and Shanghai is now becoming a place just for cars,
" she added.
Shanghai has in fact taken greater steps than
other cities like Beijing to limit the numbers of cars on its streets. It
has already raised registration fees and restricted access to the city
Nevertheless, police officials blame bicycles
for causing traffic problems by ignoring traffic lights and occupying
One Shanghai cyclist contacted by BBC News
Online predicted that the new rules might be similarly ignored.
"At the moment on roads where you are not
allowed to cycle you simply go up on the pavement and cycle there."
- By Tim Luard BBC
Online 9 Dec 2003
Shanghai has now 304 star-rated hotels,
with 15 five-star, 27 four-star and 110 three-star hotels, according to
commission statistics. - China
Daily 5 Nov 2002
Top 10 brands by adspend on TV (2004):
1. Oil of Olay (Procter & Gamble)
2. KFC ( Yum! Brands)
3. McDonald's (McDonald's Corp.)
4. Rejoice (Procter & Gamble)
5. Nestle - coffee, tea and powdered dairy (Nestle)
6. SK&F - OTC pharmaceutical (SK&F)
7. Danone (Danone)
8. Colgate (Colgate-Palmolive)
9. Huangjindadang - tonic/vitamin
10. Pantene (Procter & Gamble)
(Local channels only, based on rate card.)
Top 10 advertising categories on TV
1. Skin care
2. Tonics & vitamins
3. Hair care
4. Fast food
5. Passenger vehicles
6. Toilet & liquid soap
7. Entertainment & cultural exhibitions
8. Toothpaste & oral hygiene
9. Skin cleansers
10. Communication equipment & services
(Local channels only, based on rate card.)
Top 5 local channels by ad revenue:
1. Dragon TV
2. East Movie Channel
3. Shanghai TV - News & Variety
4. Shanghai TV - Movie & Drama
5. Shanghai TV - Sports
Sources: Nielsen Media
Research & AGB Nielsen Media Research, China 2006
The city will install 'black boxes' on
cranes and construction site equipment to help track the cause of
building-site accidents, local media reported.
Workplace accidents are rife in booming
China, where patchy safety enforcement and corner- cutting by contractors
result in the deaths of thousands in the country's coal mines, factories
and on building sites every year.
'They will work like the black boxes on
aircraft,' Shanghai Daily yesterday quoted Sun Jianping, deputy director
of the Shanghai Construction and Transport Commission, as saying.
They would help inspectors discover the
cause of accidents involving machinery and whether human error or
mechanical breakdown were to blame, Mr Sun said. Shanghai is in the throes
of a major construction boom, in part spurred by its preparations for the
2010 World Expo, which has been touted by local authorities as a
coming-of-age party for the east Asian financial capital.
The city had recorded 16 accidents at
building sites this year, nine of which were caused by human error, the
China passed a law obligating Chinese officials to provide accurate and
timely information about public emergencies. --
2007 September 1