Horns meet world. World meet Shalaka Joshi. Shalaka is a Government and Plan II major here at UT in the College of Liberal Arts. She spent her 2014 summer in Beijing, China as part of the US-China Relations Maymester at Tsinghua University. She had the opportunity to explore several cities in China while abroad; you can read her thoughts about Beijing and Shanghai here:
China is a fascinating country. As it has come forward into modernity, and developed the influence and economic strength it has today, it also seeks to cling to its long history and unique culture with pride. This contrast is immensely clear and visible in the sights I saw when I had the opportunity to be part of a Maymester program studying U.S.-China relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing. As part of this experience, I also got to spend a few days in Shanghai. Beijing and Shanghai are two of the most well-known, populous, and important cities in China. They are both equally vibrant in different ways.
As the center of thousands of years of imperial and dynastic history, Beijing is the historical heart of the country. This can be seen through the beautiful historical buildings that are visible throughout the city. It is also the political center of the modern Chinese state, famous for the Great Wall and as the site of the lavish 2008 Olympic Games.
In contrast, Shanghai is the financial capital, with towering modern skyscrapers that shine brightly at night. When strolling its busy streets, I saw people from different parts of the world and more foreign brands than in Beijing. Chinese economic power can be seen more clearly in this city than anywhere else on the mainland.
Yet Beijing and Shanghai offer different views of China: one of immense global economic clout that can adapt and grow in the future, and one of great pride in the past that often clings to certain ideas. The identity struggle between these different and inherently conflicting views of the world is fascinating to watch. It is observing this that made me curious to see what happens going forward and gave me an enduring interest in China.
If you enjoyed reading about Shalaka’s time in China, feel free to leave comments below and tell us about your favorite cities. Be sure to check in next week to find out where in the world our Horns pop up next!