NYC and Shanghai


NYC, USA and Shanghai, PRC like many major metropolitan areas and world class cities, they have some things in common. Huge populations, massive skyscrapers, affordable public transportation, fantastic food, terrific tourism attractions, etc.

Since I have just returned from yet another trip to Asia please allow me this opportunity to point out some differences and similarities, in order to expose the individuality of each. What no one can deny is the vibrancy and character each one of these massive cities.

First of all, there is a twelve hour time difference between these two cities, so it is now a half day earlier there. NYC has an economic challenger emerging in Asia. Shanghai is becoming an Eastern base for many international corporations. The city has been called the NYC of the East. During long my career as a journalist, I have made the trans-Pacific commute to Asia a couple of times. from NYC and I have found the entrepreneurial spirit to be strong in both metropolitan areas.

Although its population is considerably larger than NYC, Shanghai is much like NYC. The Big Apple and Shanghai attract the best and brightest and boast a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Many of the leading firms in finance and other industries enjoy corporate headquarters in both.

Commuting to work is one area in which the two cities are similar. The subway and bus systems are the heart of both. Even if NYC benefits from three commuter rail lines that bring in people from the distant suburbs, commuters in Shanghai rely on subway and bus lines, which are a step above NYC, with its clean, modern subways rapidly transporting people to the heart of the city where they work, without changing from train to subway.

New York is auto friendly and has coped well with the rise in traffic over the years. The continued strength of Shanghai, which has a motorbike frenzy will depend on its ability to create a transportation infrastructure that rapidly moves people into and around the city.

On the other hand, the two cities have many differences in terms of business culture. China is a high-context society in which opportunities come from relationships and are cultivated over time. In many instances, deals in Shanghai are still based on the traditional Chinese practice of long term relationship building, Quanxi.

New York is less polarized. There is a culture of stability in which deals don't rest on relationships alone, but well-aligned interests do play an important role. Deal- hungry entrepreneurs discount traditional relationship building and propose deals at the outset of a meeting.

NYC prohibits smoking inside restaurants, does not allow bike riding on city sidewalks, but Shanghai does and their restaurants are congested with smoke and the sidewalks and streets packed with motorbikes, with most bike riders not wearing helmets or respecting the pedestrian's right of way.

But make no mistake, New York City is and will continue to be the financial capital of the world.
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