The Newsletter 55 Winter 2010

The metropolis and the capital: Shanghai and Beijing as paradigms of space

Jacob Dreyer

Historically, China has been culturally multivalent, with a heterogeneous range of cultures operating within the larger paradigm of the country as a whole. Today, this tension is best realised in the Chinese coastal metropolis, Shanghai, and the inland ‘northern capital,’ Beijing, two cities equally convinced of their centrality, with systems of spatial organisation that, in addition to being completely at odds with each other, ratify their own roles. In so doing, they off er two equally valid models for other Chinese cities (the so-called ‘second tier’ and ‘third tier’ cities) to follow.

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