This morning we headed for the underground Communist Propaganda Museum, home to hundreds of original works from the early 20th century to the present day. We saw incredible poster art documenting Mao’s gradual but determined indoctrination of the Chinese people. There were many images demonstrating a better and stronger China at his hands, very similar to the Russian Communist Propaganda of a few decades earlier. Images of Mao aligned with Lenin and Stalin were the most striking- by the 1970s the atrocities that took place in Russia were much more wide spread knowledge so I find it incredible that Mao was still categorising himself with these other well known dictators.
Many images demonised the West, and the Chinese propagandists really utilised black segregation in America as a mechanism for making the Chinese believe that all of the Western communities were treating people that did not have white skin in terrible ways. It was also interesting to see more contemporary propaganda; although the visuals do not explicitly demonise the West, there is a significant feel of the need for Chinese superiority over America. The museum was absolutely amazing, and I didn’t know collections such as these had survived the constant overwriting of history that Chinese governments seem to be so keen on.
Following this we visited the French Concession which is a really charming little area, a rabbit warren of quirky shops, bars and restaurants. We experienced delicious sesame noodles with sticky pork that may have been one of my favourite meals in China so far.
Our next stop was the financial district where all of the infamous skyscrapers are housed. The Financial District is relatively new, and even looking back to 1995 the area would have looked significantly different and certainly much flatter.
The Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, however it’s observation deck on floor 121 is considerably higher than that of the Burj, making it the highest viewing point in the whole world.
We obviously had to take the opportunity to experience being as high up as humanly possible, so we took the world’s fastest elevator (climbing 121 floors in less than 54 seconds) popped our ears and stepped out to see the world from above.
It was extraordinary. Buildings we had craned our necks to try and see the top of sat comfortably beneath our feet, cars resembled ants scurrying along beneath us, the clouds looked as though they were in reaching distance. It’s incredible how small the world looks from above.
Once we had picked our jaws up from the ground, we headed back down to earth but decided we hadn’t quite had enough of that Shanghai skyline, and visited the Shangrila Hotel’s Jade Bar for another panoramic view of the city. Amazing!