Tuesday 11 January 2011


On the exterior of the Pudong Development Bank, on the Bund, you will find this embossment/sculpture of the Red Army's entry into Shanghai to the ecstatic greetings of the partisan workers, many of them waving cleavers in celebration. The Bank is now a 'joint stock development bank', a fundamentally capitalist institution, and finding this commemoratve plaque on the wall of the  bank brought home to me the ambiguity of modern China. Mao's Long March and his triumphs are still revered, but capitalism is also worshipped. 
People feel free these days to say that the Cultural Revolution was 'a human disaster', but Mao's picture and presence are still to be seen and felt everywhere. 
The interior of the Pudong Development Bank is beautiful, more like a temple-cum-art-gallery than a bank. "It features marble floors and pillars and ornate light fixtures. Within the cupola at the entranceway are eight small paintings, representing the eight cities where the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank had offices in 1921: Hong Kong, London, New York, Calcutta, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok. In the lobby is a ceiling mosaic of Shanghai as it looked in 1923. The mosaic was covered by plaster during the Cultural Revolution and was rediscovered during renovations in mid-1990s."
However, we were unable to photograph anything in the interior. As soon as Margaret made a shift to take out her camera, a security man, previously unnoticed, moved towards us from the pillar he was standing against. Smiling politely, he waved his hand: Sorry, no pictures, please. 

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