Bar street heaven for expats, hell for locals

Updated: 2013-07-17 10:14

By Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

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Expat magnet

Shanghai is a magnet for expats, who arrive in large numbers to learn Chinese and look for work.

"Foreign residents usually account for more than 5 percent of the total population of an international metropolis, and the day when the foreign population in Shanghai reaches a million is just around the corner," said Zhou Haiwang, vice-director of the Institute of Population and Development at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

He said it is important for the authorities to formulate plans to concentrate the foreign community in specific areas so expats can enjoy the services and lifestyles best suited to them, but problems and culture clashes are almost inevitable when foreigners and locals share a district, he said.

Some experts have encouraged locals and expats to live relatively independently of each other, and pointed to foreign communities, such as Gubei in Changning district and Lianyang in Pudong New Area, as good examples of this.

However, some of the expats are unwilling to be confined to specific areas. "We want to integrate, so that people from different backgrounds can learn from and compromise with each other," said Briton Stuart Dunn, general manager of the Tap House bar.

"The interests of Chinese residents and expats may be better served by limiting the number of customers in each bar and closing the bars at a time that enables the locals to get a good night's rest," said Zhou.

Both sides have to stick to their promises, and greater investment in security staff could be helpful, he added.

Singh, the city expert from Canada, said, "The business community, along with the local authorities, should take more responsibility to maintain a cleaner, safer and civil environment for both fun seekers and locals."

Meanwhile, Dunn said the business owners and managers are eager to cooperate with the local authorities and their neighbors because their businesses are not aimed specifically at Westerners.

"We are neighbors and I don't want to cause my neighbors any trouble. We're in China, which is not our country - we have great respect for the locals," said Blaise.

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