It seems that people never get tired rehashing what makes Shanghai Shanghai. Take this very long Xinhua piece entitled “上海人变得越来越可爱了“ (“Shanghainese are becoming ever more likable”), wherein we go over all the generalizations and stereotypes about the Shanghainese. Of course, some of them are interesting, too, like several sections that deal with creativity, entrepeneurship, and culture.
For example, why don’t many Shanghainese start their own businesses, while many Zhejiangnese people do? A man named Li Anbo said the reason was because Zhejiang people don’t have it as good as the Shanghainese, whose parents work in state-owned enterprises and already enjoy a fairly stable standard of living, which takes away the impetus, drive, and chutzpah you need to do business in China. (祖籍浙江、生在上海的李岸波，将上海人和浙江人也做了比较，“浙江人没有退路。不像上海大多数人，父母都在国营单位，生活很安逸，待遇很好，生老病死都不用愁。”他坦言自己并不想创业，“胆子不够，没有这个魄力，而且比较享受现在的安逸，没有什么压力。”)
It seems that the Shanghainese personality has been, to some degree, influenced by its economic position in China dating back to pre-Reform, planned economy days. Unlike peasants, who have to depend on the good graces of mother nature, workers have a comparatively more stable life — they went to work in the factories, at all times of the year. According to this line of reasoning, the planned economy relied completely on government intervention, which creates what the author calls “strong government” and “weak business”. (“强政府”与“弱企业”). “企业家是通过创办自己的企业才成为企业家的，企业家的成长是一个自我创业的过程。在上海，政府有关部门干预这么强大，民间的力量和空间已剩下不多了，何谈创业家或者企业家精神呢？”张军说。
So even now, young people are more likely to aim for management positions at multinationals rather than trying to start their own business. Shanghai’s reverence for foreign brands doesn’t help the development of “native” brands and companies.
Anyhoo — food for thought. Or not.
Photo from aning.com.