China : Shanghai, the Hot Devil’s City of the Moment

By Takahiro Kanno,
Former Representative in Shanghai

Shanghai’s port was opened in 1843 under the peace treaty (the Treaty of Nanking) concluded at the end of the Opium War. Subsequently Italy, France, the United States, and Japan established concessions here one after the other, and from the 1920s to the 1930s Shanghai prospered as the greatest city in the Far East, becoming known as the “Devil’s City” and “Paris of the East”.
Fast forward time, and in the latter half of the 1990s the development of the Pudong xin qu and Hongqiao areas created the momentum for Shanghai to become China’s representative city, pulling along the world’s economy, and as you know hosting the largest World Expo in history in 2010.

Today Shanghai is more than sufficiently famous, but here I’d like to give a quick “Shanghai Proficiency Quiz”. Which category do you fit into?
Q1.“Peace Hotel” “Paramount Hall” “Fuzhou Road” “Suzhou Evening”
A1. If you recognized these, you are quite a Shanghai expert, you oldie (sorry!)
Q2.“Shanghai Honey” “Shanghai Typhoon” “Sweet and Sour Shanghai” “Sleepless Town”
A2. If you recognized these, you are just a Shanghai groupie.
Q3.“Yu Yuan” “The Bund” “Oriental Pearl Tower” “Shanghai Circus” “Dim Sum” “Shanghai Crab”
A3. You who recognized these, you’ve traveled to Shanghai, haven’t you?
Q4.“Gubei xin qu Area” “Sogo Department Store” “Jing an si Temple” “Rui jin South Road” “Xian xia Road” “Bifondan” “Hai Bao”
A4. You’re stationed in Shanghai, aren’t you?

By the way, have you ever heard the expressions (not necessarily particular to Shanghai) “Little Emperor”, “Little Queen”, and “After 80s”?
These are expressions that have been coined as a result of China’s One-Child policy.
An only child has two parents and four grandmothers and grandfathers all to themselves, and so it is said that such children are raised by a total of six adults, or rather six wallets. In other words, these children are able to get practically anything and everything they want. Because they are brought up so extravagantly and indulgently, they sometimes become selfish - hence the nicknames “Little Emperor” (boy) and “Little Queen” (girl).
China’s One-Child policy (known in China as the “Family Planning Policy”) was introduced in 1979. The “Little Emperors” and “Little Queens” born in 1980 turn 30 in 2010, and this generation is referred to as the “After 80s” to differentiate them from the generation born before 1980 and the One-Child policy, from which they are radically different.

The “After 80s” are just now coming of prime marrying age. Because of China’s One-Child policy, there is now an imbalance between males and females in the Chinese population (excess of males). Moreover, the women look for the “three highs” -“ height, education, and income”- in potential husbands, creating a very difficult situation for men. In Shanghai especially, a requirement for men to marry is that they own their own home, and so parents must buy a house for their“Little Emperor”(costing RMB450,000: 750,000*). In many cases the parents also foot the wedding bill at an average cost of more than RMB150,000. By the way, Chinese brides and grooms change costumes during their wedding reception three times on average (white wedding dress, colored dress, traditional Chinese dress). Shanghai’s bridal market is estimated to be worth RMB17 billion, and I have also seen figures of RMB500 billion for the Chinese bridal market overall.

The One-Child policy in one respect created a new bridal market, but in the future these “Little Emperors” and “Little Queens” will have the heavy burden of supporting six people, their parents and grandparents.
The One-Child policy has also affected the rural and agricultural populations, and I believe has also impacted our business in no small measure.

Uniagros' Annual Meeting

A town in Heilongjiang where Uniagros' products are applied

My introduction has been very long, but when I was stationed in Shanghai I worked for United AgroScience Corp (Uniagros), a company selling agricultural materials (head office in Guangzhou, office in Shanghai). The company’s marketing concept is “Selling Total Service, not products”, and under this motto everyone is still working together to do their best.
In China, generic products comprise more that 90% of the market. Accordingly, foreign products (which are priced comparatively highly) are in fierce price competition with generic products.
However, with the expansion of their country’s economy, Chinese people are becoming to believe that “cheap equals poor quality” and there is a shift towards demand for products that are safe and authentic. An atmosphere is now developing in which people prefer to use products that are highly effective and safe, even if their prices are also relatively high. Through Uniagros, we intend to continue contributing to the development of Chinese agriculture.

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