I put forward a proposal to my Editor in August to make a documentary
in Shanghai I never really expected it to become reality. But
within weeks the trip got the go ahead and the funding was secure
- all I needed now was a journalist visa!
twinned with Shanghai three years ago but its historical links go
as far back as the 1870’s, and Liverpool has the oldest Chinese
community in Europe.
FC has also recently become the first football club to make inroads
into China with the signing of a sponsorship deal with Kejian (mobile
phones) which also saw two Chinese internationals coming to the
As a member of the civic delegation from Liverpool it was a hectic
schedule as guests of the Mayor of Shanghai with the full VIP treatment
- the most luxurious accommodation, the biggest banquets (including
such delicacies as cow’s ears and jellyfish), and the toughest bodyguards.
no chips with curry sauce?
visit was part of the Britain at the Leading Edge event to show
the Chinese what Britain does best. Vivienne Westwood, various Government
Ministers, Cream DJ’s and former England international footballers
including Gary Mabbutt were all in there to promote Britain.
even led to the surreal experience of eating Roast Beef and Yorkshire
pudding in the Shanghai Hilton at a lunch hosted by the British
Consul while doing a two-way with our Breakfast show.
space-age skyline is dominated by the 468 meter Pearl Tower - the
tallest building in Asia and an unlikely venue for lunch - but with
most of the skyscrapers appearing in the last 7 years it’s the speed
of its transformation which is the most astounding.
Pearl Tower and city skyline.
all traffic lights only appeared in Shanghai 4 years ago so uniformed
people stand on major street corners with a flag and a whistle to
make sure pedestrians only cross the road when the lights are on
highlight of my trip was a visit to Qingpu (see picture) - an ancient
village around an hours drive from Shanghai. There was an air of
tranquillity about the place and an exotic range of food being sold
in the narrow but bustling streets.
lack of English-speaking people in Shanghai meant I didn’t get an
opportunity for the traditional voxpop but did manage to speak a
range of people who were all there as part of Britain at the Leading
are by far the most popular form of transport.
included DJ Paul Bleasdale, Digby Jones - the Director General of
the CBI, and Keith Blunt, the man who not only coached Michael Owen
as a schoolboy but also the Chinese squad for the last Olympics
a number of ex-pat Scousers in Shanghai (they get everywhere) and,
although 7000 miles from home, bumped into someone who went to school
with a very good friend of mine! He told me how Chinese New Year
in Liverpool was the main thing he missed about the city.
Neil Tomes, had arrived in Shanghai unable to speak a word of Chinese.
On hearing he was from Liverpool, the driver of the first taxi he
took proceeded to reel off the entire Liverpool football squad.
is a City of contrasts with the sidestreets more akin to how one
would imagine China to be like - where men play cards while washing
hangs on clothes lines above - all this against a backdrop of huge
skyscrapers. But it’s the new Shanghai with the fastest growing
economy in China and bidding to host the World Expo in 2010 - that
could best be described as a City of the Future.
City of the Future was broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside on Friday
15th November, 2002.