How middle-class Shanghai reveals China’s unsettled future from freeamfva's blog

The rapid emergence and explosive growth of the Chinese middle class is one of the world’s most stunning developments. At the heart of this story is Shanghai. Nowhere in China has this new socioeconomic force been more transformative — and more intriguing — than in this pace-setting city.To get more lifestyle news shanghai, you can visit shine news official website.

The dynamism and diversity of middle-class Shanghai challenges the caricature of the People’s Republic of China as a burgeoning hegemon with a Communist apparatus set on disseminating its singular ideology and development model. China today, as exemplified and led by Shanghai, is also a crucible of change driven by a growing middle class.

Historically, Shanghai is known for its fascinating contradictions. As China’s most Westernized city prior to the Communist revolution in 1949, Shanghai has long served as a “laboratory” for evaluating the impact of transnational forces and the interaction between culture and politics, state and society, and East and West.

Shanghai’s distinct entrepreneurial spirit and cultural identity (known as haipai culture) quickly gained prominence after Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform and opening up took root in the 1980s and 1990s.

Many of the important changes that have taken place over recent decades — the establishment of a stock market, foreign investment, the rise of private firms, land leasing, property booms, and expansion of higher education — either began in Shanghai or have otherwise affected this born-again city in a deep and enduring way.

These developments have contributed to the birth and growth of a new socioeconomic stratum, the members of which enjoy a middle-class lifestyle with private property, cars, accumulated financial assets, and the financial freedom to travel overseas and educate their children abroad.

In 2018, over 5 million households in Shanghai shared this lifestyle and could be considered middle-class families, constituting 91 percent of the total registered households of the city. According to a 2019 report by the People’s Bank of China, almost all registered families in Shanghai owned residential property.The average value of household assets among Shanghai residents was 8.07 million yuan (US$1.2 million), with a significant number of families owning two or three properties.

The rapid expansion of the middle class has gradually extended beyond Shanghai and other megacities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. According to McKinsey, by 2022, the proportion of China’s middle class that resides in these four megacities is expected to be only 16 percent of the country’s total middle class, a drop from 40 percent in 2002.

Overall, the middle class has increased from 15 percent of the country’s population in 2001 to 29 percent in 2020, with forecasts estimating it will reach 41 percent of the population in 2030 (numbering roughly 600 million people).On the education front, Shanghai is home to an outsized population of foreign-educated returnees in reform-era China. In 2009, for example, more than a quarter of the country’s foreign-educated returnees chose to live and work in Shanghai.

Shanghai’s pioneering role in middle-class development and foreign engagement has become a metaphor for China’s drive to join the “global club” — a symbol of China’s coming of age in the 21st century. The question, however, is how the outside world will assess the impact and implications of this transformation.

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