Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities

Creating New Urban Landscapes in Asia

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

While global cities have mostly been characterized as sites of intensive and extensive economic activity, the quest for global city status also increasingly rests on the creative production and consumption of culture and the arts. Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities examines such ambitions and projects undertaken in five major cities in Asia: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore. Providing a thorough comparison of their urban imaging strategies and attempts to harness arts and culture, as well as more organically evolved arts activities and spaces, this book analyses the relative successes and failures of these cities. Offering rich ethnographic detail drawn from extensive fieldwork, the authors challenge city strategies and existing urban theories and reveal the many complexities in the art of city-making.

Chapter 3: Rivalling Beijing and the world: realizing Shanghai's ambitions through cultural infrastructure

Lily Kong, Ching Chia-ho and Chou Tsu-Lung

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, asian geography, economics and finance, asian economics, cultural economics, regional economics, geography, cities, human geography, urban and regional studies, cities


Shanghai has long felt a sense of rivalry with the national capital, Beijing, desirous as it is to gain a primary position in the national imaginary. In recent times, Shanghai has also sought visibility on the world stage as a global city. In some ways, it may be said that the latter ambition is really about reclaiming its past character and reputation as ‘the Paris of the East’. In 1842, with the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing, Shanghai and four other Chinese ports were opened to Western trade, leading, by the 1930s, to Shanghai’s position as one of the world’s five most important commercial centres and the second busiest port. But while Shanghai has always been seen as China’s leading commercial, trade, shipping and financial centre, it is not known to be China’s cultural capital.

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