Think piece: Reflections on the Shanghai skyline

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Two pictures comparing the Shanghai skyline between 1990 and 2010 have been making the rounds online – we posted them on the blog the other day. In this piece, Dr Richard Ebeling discusses the economic history of Shanghai's skyline, which thrived during the pre-Second World War years and, thanks to the laissez-faire economic policies it enjoyed as a virtual city-state, grew to become Asia's answer to New York City.

The "before" picture of Shanghai (from 1990) is actually the same skyline from before the Second World War. Under communism, from 1949 until 1980s-1990s, this picture of Shanghai had not changed.

And, by the way, how did Shanghai come to have such a "Western"-style skyline before the Second World War? Because following the British-Chinese War of 1842 (the "Opium War"), Shanghai was one of the treaty ports in which there emerged foreign "concessions" administered by Western governments to minimize frictions between the Chinese and Europeans and Americans, due to conflicting conceptions of criminal and civil law, and property rights. Continue reading...