History has encouraged Shanghai’s people to feel a certain entitlement to the spotlight. After all, this is China’s first truly modern city, its first world city, and it remains China’s largest city, even if nowadays just barely so.
Shanghai’s day in the sun is fast approaching, however. In May, it will host the 2010 World Expo, an idea with a pedigree that dates back to the 19th century and which Paris, New York and Montreal, among other metropolises before it, have used to highlight their claims to trend-setting modernity and distinctive cosmopolitanism.
For some, hosting a somewhat anachronistic event like the Expo may seem a modest consolation prize compared with the glitter of the Olympics, but that does not mean that Shanghai is approaching things with anything less than the utmost seriousness. Official Shanghai, that is. Unwilling to be outdone by China’s old capital, this city is reportedly outspending Beijing’s vast Olympic preparations by a large margin.