Distant Shanghai

I rode on the maglev train that runs between Longyang Road Station in the Pudong New Area and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, a distance of about 30 km. For your reference, that is about the same as the distance from Tokyo Station to Shin-Yokohama Station.

After departing, the maglev gradually picked up speed. It was soon going at 200 km/h, then 300 km/h. There were cheers in the carriage when the speed went over 400 km/h. After peaking at the maximum 430?431 km/h, it began to slow down before arriving at the airport station. The journey took just over seven minutes from departure.

About midway there was a thunderous roar as a maglev going in the opposite direction passed us.

Even though we were traveling at a speed of 431 km/h, I was unable to take in the view out of the window because my eyes were fixed on the speed monitor. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience.

I was visiting Shanghai for the first time. I had indeed left it rather late in life to visit the Chinese mainland, but I was given the opportunity to accompany a staff training tour organized by CAV Japan Inc.

From Narita International Airport we flew to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and then visited CAV’s plant. Looking at the head office’s neat and orderly plant, I immediately understood the managerial stance of the president, Mr. Huang . He obviously takes all possible measures to ensure success, including the adoption of Japanese-style quality management. Mr. Huang shows great affection for the employees and workers at the plant but also displays firm leadership. I could clearly see why, in strong cooperation with CAV Japan president Toshihiko Norizuki, he has managed to achieve such rapid growth.

At a time when other companies’ plants are in recession, this plant has received the offer of an excellent company award from the mayor of Guangzhou. It seems only natural to me.

CAV Japan gives me great hope, and I am very much looking forward to its autumn product lineup. Its vacuum-tube high-performance audio system especially displays excellent workmanship and is certain to be topical.

From Guangzhou we went to Shanghai. Guangzhou has a population of about 10 million. Shanghai’s population is roughly 18.58 million, and Beijing’s is about 17.40 million. Chongqing has the largest population among Chinese cities with 30 million.

Shanghai’s gross domestic product in 2008 was 1,369,800 million yuan. The GDP of Shanghai and the surrounding area is 5 trillion yuan, which accounts for an amazing 25% of the GDP of China as a whole. Shanghai is one of China’s leading megalopolises, and at present a frenzy of infrastructural construction is underway in preparation for Expo 2010 Shanghai China. The world might be suffering from a global recession, but it is certainly not evident in Shanghai.

Speaking of Shanghai, I remember the Three Kingdoms Saga. The history of Shanghai began when Sun Quan, king of the Kingdom of Wu, founded Longhua Temple in 242. So Shanghai is a large city with a history of about 2,000 years. In more recent times, Shanghai went through the period of foreign settlement, and then the big change came in 1980, when Deng Xiaoping advocated reform and opening. After that, Shanghai achieved dramatic economic development. When I compared Shanghai, which is now going through a stage of further growth, with Japan, various thoughts filled my mind.

One morning, at 6 o’clock, I left our hotel and went for a walk. I intended to return by 7, but walking briskly along a tree-lined road in the high-class residential part of the former international settlement district, I couldn’t find my way back to the hotel at all. Realizing that I was lost, I wandered around for 20 minutes or so before eventually hailing a taxi. The ride back to the hotel took seven minutes. Needless to say, the other members of our group laughed at my escapade.

A mixture of old buildings dating from the Ming Dynasty, towering modern skyscrapers, and Western-style structures in the former international settlement area, Shanghai was like a different world, brimming with energy.