I had quite a laugh reading Hemlock Diary’s hilarious recounting of his thoughts upon seeing an invitation to attend a conference titiled Why Shanghai? This guy is sharp:
Why Shanghai? The title inadvertently hits the nail on the head.
It’s just a Third World dump, with exchange controls, censorship, no law and an array of tacky skyscrapers intended to give gullible observers the impression that the place hosts important business like Hong Kong, if not London or New York. But the conference will be one of those surreal events where the politically correct mingle with the shallow to take this fake financial centre seriously, like the loyal subjects who admired the emperor’s new clothes.
I can only put it down to excessive use of hallucinogenic substances in senior levels of Government. “Why not Timbuctoo?” would be an equally valid question. “What did I do to deserve this?” would be another. Still, I have four days in which to arrange something less tedious, like some root canal work.
Precious. Not only has Hemlock mastered the fine art of obnoxiousness, the craft of finely honed and chiseled abuse, he makes some valid points about Asia’s most over-rated city. (Actually, I enjoy Shanghai for short visits. As to its being a global business center — more on this myth to come.)
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.