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Since first encountering Shanghai twenty years ago, I have been repeatedly struck by feelings of alienation not encountered elsewhere in China - an alienation rising in the city itself. Shanghai is a construct, built and rebuilt many times over, repeatedly being stolen from its population. A Chinese settlement taken over by foreigners constructing a city in their image: taken over by Japanese invaders and then communist ideologues, the city suffering heavily in the cultural revolution. Finally, in recent years the city has been grabbed by a new regime of city planners and real estate developers. The wholesale changes are so extreme that families that can trace their residence through generations are no more at home than the latest migrant. The job seekers from increasingly distant inland provinces, the young urban sophisticate in a nightclub foam party, the old man on the corner of his neighbourhood as it falls to the wrecking ball... all have been Shanghai'd.
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