China Seminar | 13 November 1997

A Tale of Two Cities: Beijing and Shanghai in Chinese History

Mingzheng Shi Mingzheng Shi

Beijing and Shanghai, it is often said, represent the longer and shorter versions of Chinese history: Beijing if one wants to understand China in the past millennium, Shanghai if one wants to know China in the past century. No other cities have influenced Chinese traditional and modern history as profoundly as Beijing and Shanghai. It is appropriate, as this century and the millennium both draw to a close, to examine what roles the two cities have played in Chinese history, how they differ from one another, and what kinds of future lie ahead for them and for China in the 21st century.

Born and raised in Beijing, Professor Mingzheng Shi graduated from Peking University majoring in cross-cultural studies. Since coming to the US in 1986, he has earned three advanced degrees from American universities: an MA in American history from the University of Connecticut, an M. Phil. and a Ph.D. in Chinese history from Columbia University. Author of The Transformation of Beijing: Urban Development and Social Change (Peking University Press, 1995) as well as a number of articles in both Chinese and English, he is currently completing a work on the remaking of Beijing in the early twentieth century (University of California Press, forthcoming). Professor Shi held a post-doctoral research post at Berkeley and taught for four years at the University of Houston. He has just joined the history faculty of the University of Hawaii as a historian of twentieth-century China.