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First Light In China

A shopping street in Chuansha New Town, Shanghai.

For all that China looms large in the collective consciousness of both the west and Taiwan 台灣, where I usually reside these days, my first experiences of the Middle Kingdom were exceedingly unremarkable. I was only in the country on a layover of about fifteen hours so I didn’t get to see much apart from the airport, the metro system, and a small part of Chuānshā New Town 川沙新镇, one of countless planned communities in Pudong, the newly-minted eastern district of the largest city in the world, Shanghai. I will return in a couple of weeks for a longer layover—four full days this time, as I am taking advantage of the free 144-hour transit visa—and will have more to share later on.

This photograph is the very first I captured in China on my Nikon D3100. I would like to be able to say that it looks entirely unlike what you might see in Taiwan 台灣 but apart from the different brand names and use of simplified characters this random street scene wouldn’t look hugely out of place in, say, Taoyuan. Naturally I am quite curious about how China and Taiwan 台灣 compare given their distinct but intertwined histories. As one reader points out there is a strong táishāng 台商 (Taiwanese business) presence in the Chuansha area which may explain some of this. I am curious to observe more parallels when I return.

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