Shanghai Pathways Blog

Understand ​China​ ​From the Local ​Perspect​ive



Brits Get Rich in China

Perfect documentary to watch during the weekend, not strictly a serious finance documentary, but particularly relevant in these times as China progresses in its economic evolution, and some parts of this documentary is so real and funny. Indeed, China is becoming increasingly important in global business, and particularly in global finance and investing. China has seen wild gyrations in its stock market, and has rewarded many investors, but what is it really like doing business in China?

The documentary follows 3 British entrepreneurs who go to China to make their fortunes. For those with any interest in China it is a very interesting and at times entertaining film. It reveals how tough doing business in China can be, but it also shows the rewards and triumph of those who make a real go of it. If you’re investing in China or thinking about business in China then you must see this documentary.

Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse

2011 is a very interesting year but there are many questions left behind in China, one major question is WHEN or IF the house price in Shanghai is ever going to meltdown?

Six months ago, Shanghai’s property market was the hottest on the planet. The story was compelling: the most dynamic city in the most dynamic economy, with affluent Chinese from both the mainland and abroad eager to pour their capital into the latest deal. Even foreigners were getting into the act: Morgan Stanley was part of a $90 million real estate fund for Shanghai, and individual Americans were plunking down their bucks for Shanghai flats and houses.

The whole world, it seemed, wanted in on the game. Who cared if speculators were buying and selling apartments within days? Prices had been clocking 30% annual increases from 2002 on.  

To stop the increase, real estate control measures was applied among major cities  in April 2011, and Shanghai is the latest victim of the government’s effort to cool a rocketing economy. Today, not only have prices of some luxury apartments dropped by as much as 30%, but sales volume is off by 70%. A deal on an apartment at Rainbow City Apartment complex: $1,840 per square meter, down from $2,215 in March.

As in every real estate bust, buyers are waiting for prices to fall further, while sellers are unwilling to make additional cuts for fear of fueling the downward spiral. 

So who’s going to blink first? We will discover the answer in 2012 and it is a good time to review what happened in 2008.

Doc Zone has traveled the world – from Wall Street to Dubai to China – to investigate The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse. Meltdown is the story of the bankers who crashed the world, the leaders who struggled to save it and the ordinary families who got crushed.

September 2008 launched an extraordinary chain of events: General Motors, the world’s largest company, went bust. Washington Mutual became the world’s largest bank failure. Lehman Brothers became the world’s largest bankruptcy ever – The damage quickly spread around the world, shattering global confidence in the fundamental structures of the international economy.

Meltdown also tells the stories of desperate foreclosed homeowners in California, disillusioned autoworkers at the end of the line in Ontario and furious workers in France who shocked the world by kidnapping their own bosses.

1. The Men Who Crashed the World. Greed and recklessness by the titans of Wall Street triggers the largest financial crash since the Great Depression. It’s left to US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, himself a former Wall Street banker, to try and avert further disaster.

2. A Global Tsunami. The meltdown’s devastation ripples around the world from California to Iceland and China. Facing economic ruin, desperate world leaders are at each other’s throats.

3. Paying the Price. The victims of the meltdown fight back. In Iceland, protesters force a government to fall. In Canada, ripped off autoworkers occupy their plant. And in France, furious union members kidnap their bosses.

4. After the Fall. Investigators begin to sift through the meltdown’s rubble. Shaken world leaders question the very foundations of modern capitalism while asking: could it all happen again?

China From The Inside

It is GREAT and I loved all of the 4 episodes. This documentary movie provided some great insights towards the problem and issues of current China.  Chinese usually are very patriotic and not good in dealing with critics but it is important to understand about what is becoming of China and what we could do to improve things around the country.  If there is a 5th episodes, I’d be very interested to see more of the major city life and people who live in Shanghai or Beijing, this could be mind blowing as well.

In four episodes of about 55 minutes each, this PBS documentary examines some of the major challenges facing contemporary Chinese society.

Episode 1, “Power and the People,” focuses on the Communist Party’s rule of China. Topics include government opposition to separatism in the heavily Muslim province of Xinjiang; the Party’s efforts to create a prosperous society; the governance of Tibet; the National People’s Congress, which puts the Party’s decisions into action; the election of a village committee; and corruption in the Party.

Episode 2, “Women of the Country,” focuses on the difficulties faced by Chinese women, especially in rural areas (where two-thirds of China’s population lives). The episode examines birth planning, marriage, women who live in the country while their husbands work in the city, women in Tibet, the hopelessness of many young women in China, the Muslim women of Xinjiang, and the opportunities and hardships for women in cities.

Episode 3, “Shifting Nature,” focuses on pollution brought on by rapid industrialization and on massive water diversion projects that involve resettling the populations of entire towns.

Episode 4, “Freedom and Justice,” examines the limits on religious freedom and freedom of the press, AIDS deaths that the government could have prevented, the displacement of poor people by land “development,” and injustices in the justice system.

This is an interesting, informative, and thought-provoking documentary.

The Chinese Are Coming

Travelling across three continents, Justin Rowlatt investigates the spread of Chinese influence around the planet and asks what the world will be like if China overtakes America as the world’s economic superpower. In the first of two films, he embarks on a journey across Southern Africa to chart the extraordinary phenomenon of Chinese migration to Africa, and the huge influence of China on the development of the continent.While many in the West view Africa as a land of poverty, to the Chinese it is seen as an almost limitless business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the fearless Chinese entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses.

I think this movie’s idea is from “The Russian Are Coming”. It was actually very funny to watch. I was amused and laughed a lot when Justin Rowlatt trying very hard to taste which chicken is better, the Chinese chicken or the African chicken (based on that the chicken is provided by African farmer who don’t like Chinese). He also tried to prove that the Brazil bikini is better than the ones made in China but he forgot that the point is how much money people are willing to pay, quality always comes with a price.

The movie shows Chinese are taking over the world. Justin investigated what Chinese influence meant for African countries, nicely skewering racist presumptions about China as he travelled. Intriguingly, the Chinese have often revivified old British colonial infrastructures. But are they as rapacious as the British were?  Could the Chinese do the same for Britain? Probably not. At least Africans have stuff – copper, cobalt, cheap labour – that is what the Chinese want and paying for. What does British have? Maybe celebrities?!

In America, Justin visited factories which were out of business and workers blaming Chinese stole their jobs. But they forgot to talk with the American bosses who made tons of money, they were also not interested to discuss about how much money Chinese factory worker are getting paid and why American company don’t want their factory to be based in US. It is all about the profit. Today it is made in China, tomorrow it is maybe made in Thailand, North Korea, etc…

The other new idea is learning Chinese means being possibily brian washed by Chinese communist party, and it has something to do with confucianism(that’s a really big joke).

In the end, my question is that why can’t the producer from BBC do better? Please, make them visit Shanghai and I’d be so happy to give them a tour .

China Blue

CHINA BLUE takes viewers inside a blue jeans factory in southern China, where teenage workers struggle to survive harsh working conditions. Providing perspectives from both the top and bottom levels of the factory’s hierarchy, the film looks at complex issues of globalization from the human level.

After the book of Factory Girls, this movie is still interesting enough by looking into the life of not only the workers but also the factory owners. In the year of 2012, for just 5 years since the release of the book and movie, the change of China is breath taking. 

In the first half of 2008 about 67,000 small- and medium-size companies closed, including more than 10,000 textile firms, due to cash flow problems. More than 100,000 firms were expected to close by the end of 2008. The manufacturing centers in Guangdong Province and around Shanghai were particularly hard hit. In Guangdong more than 62,400 businesses closed in 2008, with more than 10,000 factories closing in the Dongguan area alone during a six week period at the end of 2008. Some factories were closed with shocking suddenness. They were humming one moment and closed down with owners skipping town the next, without warning. Not only were the owners, managers and workers hurt by the closures so too were the shops, restaurants and businesses that surrounded them.

In early November 2008, China announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package worth 13 percent of GDP, over two years. The money was spent mostly on infrastructure and social welfare, particularly on railways, highways, low-cost housing, and rural infrastructure, and given to banks to provided low interest loans for home and car buyers and companies in need of financing.

After the economic stimulus packages was approved in early 2009, China built and expanded 35 airports, opened 557 kilometers of railways, including the world’s fastest high-speed train, paved 98,000 kilometers of highway and picked up the pace on subway projects from Shenyang in the north to Guangzhou in the south—all within a year.

In March 2009,the Chinese government announced that the economy was responding well to stimulus measures and that no other stimulus measures were necessary. The Shanghai Stock Market was up 85 percent in first eight months of 2009. Property sales jumped 75.5 percent to $645 billion in 2009 on coat tails of a record number of loans.

Of the 20 million migrant workers that lost their jobs as of early 2009 about 14 million had found work by June according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which said about two thirds found jobs in the eastern coastal areas and a third got jobs in the central and western China.

By autumn 2009, firms that had feared going bust were looking for migrant workers to fill their Christmas orders. Some in the Pearl Delta area around Guangzhou and Shenzhen were having a hard time finding workers because the stimulus package was creating more opportunities in the interior. At the port in Shanghai container ships lay idle and empty while bulk carriers laden with raw material were backed up because they couldn’t be unloaded fast enough—signs trade was still hurting but manufacturing was preparing for a rebound. By December 2009, orders were surging and production reached an all-time high.

China achieved 8.7 percent growth for 2009 despite the economic slump. Growth was 6.8 percent in the last quarter in of 2008, 6.3 percent growth first quarter of 2009, the lowest in a decade, 7.9 percent growth in second quarter, 9.1 percent in third quarter in 2009 and 10.7 percent in the 4th quarter.

In 2009, the worlds three largest global banks measured by market capitalization, were all Chinese. In 2006, China didn’t have a single bank in the world’s top 20.

China resilience to the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 was so strong many wondered whether it could pull the world out its slump. According to the IMF China is likely to account for almost three quarters of global growth between 2008 and 2010.  Everyone want to know the same thing: Can China save the world?

There were worries that high stock prices and booming real estate would create a bubble. A lot of stimulus money flowed into assets markets for quick profits rather the real economy. By early 2010 there were worries that the economy might overheat. The central bank took measures to control the surge in bank lending by raising the amount of money that banks must keep in reserve, and the government raised interest rates and let the yuan appreciate to keep things from getting out of hand. Inflation also became a concern as rising prices accompanied the surge in orders.

Growth of China was 10.3 percent in 2010. GDP was $5.88 trillion, ahead of Japan’s $5.45 billion. Growth 9.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 2011.

In 2012, China’s growth rate may fall to about 8.5 per cent if the EU crisis deteriorates into a global meltdown.  Serious concerns about overly rapid growth, China’s real estate market, and reduced manufacturing and exports could delay the super-sized economy imagined a few years ago.

There’s no present doubt, however, that when China sneezes, the world catches a chill.

The Flowers of War

Zhang Yamou’s fact-based drama The Flowers Of War is China’s entry into Oscar’s foreign-language race and the nation’s most expensive movie ever at a budget of almost $100 million.

It was not the ideal Happy New Year’s movie, but I have wanted to check it out for a week, so why not do it in the last day of 2011?  In the end, I used lots and lots of tissues…

Based on Yan Geling’s novel “13 Flowers of Nanjing”  In 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China’s capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls. Struggling to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army, it is an act of heroism which eventually leads the seemingly disparate group to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone.

Last Train Home


Got to know this movie from a German friend, it is depressing but fascinating at the same time. We all know about the problem, but what can we do to solve it? Can we still afford to have dreams? Do we really know what we want in life?

Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are the rural villages and families they left behind to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance.

Last Train Home draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration. Sixteen years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life. But in a bitter irony, the Zhangs’ hopes for the future are undone by their very absence. Qin, the child they left behind, has grown into adolescence crippled by a sense of abandonment. In an act of teenage rebellion, she drops out of school. She too will become a migrant worker. The decision is a heartbreaking blow for the parents. In classic cinema verité style, Last Train Home follows the Zhangs’ attempts to change their daughter’s course and repair their ruptured family. Intimate and candid, the film paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China.

City of Life and Death (Nanjing! Nanjing!)

Yet another movie which I had to watch to fully understand the Nanjing massacre. It’s gruesome suffering all the way so my friend did not finish it, I guess it is not the best kind of movie to watch during the weekend or in the evening if you want to have a good sleep.

Harrowing and unflinching, a savage nightmare so consuming and claustrophobic you will want to leave but fear to go, “City of Life and Death” is a cinematic experience unlike any you’ve had before. It’s a film strong enough to change your life, if you can bear to watch it at all.

The third film by formidable Chinese director Lu Chuan, “City of Life and Death” takes as its subject the infamous atrocity known as the rape of Nanking. That was the 1937-38 Japanese takeover of China’s then capital city that led to the deaths of an estimated 300,000 civilians as well as sexual assaults said to number in the tens of thousands.

Shanghai/China in 10 minutes

About China


About Shanghai

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: