Liberation of Shanghai
Before communist liberation, Shanghai was known as the Paris of the Orient. The imperialist powers each occupied large tracts of land in Shanghai and turned them into their respective concessions which extended from time to time, making Shanghai "a paradise of adventurers". In 1949, Mao ordered the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to enter carefully but resolutely the Great Chinese Metropolis. There was a wide gap between these earnest peasant soldiers and jaded, apathetic Shanghai. Sentries in Neon Light, one of my favorite revolutionary movies, told such a story, with the stationing of a PLA company on Nanjing Road in early 1950s as a background. However, Shanghai of today is booming again, prosperous, corrupt, dynamic, with lovely ladies, glittering neon signs and the rise of criminal gangs. Perhaps the final irony is the above mentioned propaganda movie!
People’s Square, once a racecourse in the central part of Shanghai before 1949, is now a new landmark of Shanghai with the office building of Shanghai Municipal Government, Museum, Grand Theatre and stations of Metro Lines No.1 and No.2. But, will there be a new racecourse somewhere in Shanghai for those new adventurers?
Several years ago, I worked in the Post Tower near the Sichuan Road Bridge, which was of strategic importance in times of war, and the site of the fiercest battle fought for the liberation of Shanghai in 1949. At that time, a battalion of Kuomintang (KMT) troops was stationed in the Post Tower. In order to protect the Post Tower and other buildings of historic importance and to protect the lives of civilians, the PLA soldiers were not allowed to attack with artillery and explosives in urban Shanghai. In some areas, even guns were forbidden, and the PLA soldiers had to persuade their enemies to surrender by shouting to them. However, just in this month, we had KMT leaders in some cities in Chinese Mainland, including Shanghai, for "a good-will visit"!
While watching a stretch of colonial relics along the Bund, we never forgot how the PLA chased away all the capitalists and their capital and now one of the most important tasks for Shanghai, as an international business center, is to attract direct foreign investment! Foreign devils are flocking back with grand designs for this emerging megalopolis!