Shanghai or Beijing?

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post.

When first coming to China, we had to make a decision: Shanghai or Beijing? (Other cities weren’t even under consideration.)

I picked Shanghai because it has a stock exchange, and Beijing doesn’t. I cover the securities industry. And I hate politics.

But I do have to admit that Beijing has more character. Everything in Shanghai looks as though it was built yesterday. And, well, it was.

I like my neighborhood dives to have that lived-in feel. There are a couple of places like that in Shanghai – but a lot of places like that in Beijing. Also, Shanghai’s foreign restaurants seemed aimed at expats on expense accounts. Beijing’s seem oriented more towards students and tourists — two groups without as much money. And there are tons of Russian restaurants (Shanghai only has one). I’m a big fan of Russian food and music, my ethnic heritage showing through.

For the most part, journalists who come to China go to Beijing to cover politics, Shanghai to cover business. To me, it’s similar to the difference between Washington D.C. and New York City.

Several other bloggers have been weighing in on this.

Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard wrote about the issue on his blog in “China’s Future: Shanghai Or Beijing?”

Dan Harris of the China Law Blog also commented on this, and his posting drew a lively debate.

But the biggest story — for me, anyway — is the rise of China’s second tier cities. Nitasha Tiku wrote about this topic on Inc.’s Fresh Inc blog: “Going Global, Part 8: Second-Tier Cities, First Rate Growth.”

Signing off in Shanghai,