I visited Shanghai 2 weeks ago and was amazed at the economic development of the city. It already has more high-rise buildings than any other city in the world and boast many stupendous skyscrapers, including the world's 4th highest (Jinmao Tower). Soon, Shanghai will complete the world's highest tower ever built. Since 2004, Shanghai can also pride itself on having the fastest train in the world, the MagLev, reaching 430km/h (268 mph).

But that is not all. The city is relatively clean and safe. It certainly is much cleaner than Indian or South-East Asian cities (except Singapore), and safer than Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh. Compared to Tokyo, apartment blocks and architecture in general is much more harmonious and more esthetic. Electric lines are buried like in Western countries. Then, Shanghai can boast the grand British and American buildings of the Bund, and the refined French architecture of the French Concession. Add to this quite a few Chinese historical buildings in the Old Town, and renovated traditional shikumen houses, and Shanghai has all the prerequisite for a great city. The economy is booming. Western brand clothes and big department stores abound on Nanjing Road (the main shopping street).

With a population of 17 million, it is already bigger than Tokyo. The city's strategic advantage is its central location between the other great cities of East Asia : Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei and Hong Kong. Its climate and international character will certainly make it the prime expat destination in the future.

Contrarily to Tokyo with a mayor that tries all he can to discourage foreigners from living there, the government of Shanghai has set its goal to increase the number of foreign residents to reach a share of 5% of the total population. Foreign companies are already everywhere in Shanghai. There are more McDonald's and KFC's than in any Japanese city (funny for a country that is criticised as being overly Americanized). The taxis are all Volkswagen, and big hotel chains have names like Carlton-Ritz, Le Meridien, Shangri-La or Radisson. One can find about any kind of food in Shanghai : Chinese, Japanese, Korean French, Italian, German, Mexican, Indian, Turkish, Brazilian... Although the city really started to redevelop only 15 years ago, it already has a distinctly more international feel than Tokyo.