China Radio: Hong Kong vs. Shanghai
Here’s a brief little interview I did with China Radio International (CRI) about a week ago, which I didn’t realize was up on the Internet. It’s about Shanghai’s aspirations to become a global financial center, and some of the challenges it must overcome to do so. I also discuss the rivalry between Shanghai and Hong Kong, a topic that I briefly mentioned in my “Nine Nations of China” article in The Atlantic. Hong Kong is the leading city in the region I call “The Back Door.” Separated by distance, culture, and language from China’s “core,” the Back Door has always served as an arm’s length point of interaction with the outside world, and a zone of experimentation. Shanghai, on the other hand, is the leading city of the region I call “The Metropolis” — the cosmopolitan and commercial heart of China, which has served several times as the nation’s capital. As I noted in The Atlantic: “The Back Door may succeed in breaking the rules, but only the Metropolis has the wealth and dynamism to entirely reshape them.” The Back Door’s (and Hong Kong’s) flexibility gives it the first-mover advantage as a financial center. But it is always looking over its shoulder as the more powerful and strategically central Metropolis (Shanghai) adapts and tries to catch up. This regional rivalry provides the historical backdrop to the more specific points I discuss in the interview.