'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Meet Colin Speakman, Resident Director of CAPA's Shanghai Center. Colin has lived for significant time periods in North America, Asia, and Europe. From Los Angeles, CA to Bejing, and the occasional residance in London, he's spent his life as a citizen of the world. He currently calls Shanghai home, but has been a visitor to all CAPA global cities sites over the last 20 years. "Connecting Global Cities" is a monthly column written by Colin that reflects on the economic climate of global cities with attention paid to historical contexts.

Recent Posts

On The 40th Anniversary of China’s ‘Reform and Opening Up’

Jan 11, 2019 9:26:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

For China watchers, 1978 was a pivotal year—after nearly three decades of a planned economy under Chairman Mao, the famous leader’s passing, in 1976, was a prelude to China’s “Reform and Opening-up” led by Deng Xiaoping after he became the new leader in 1978. Thus 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of that reform, marked in part by the launch in Shanghai of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in November.

However, December 18, 2018 marked the precise date that “Reform and Opening-up” was launched and the Shanghai authorities marked this by a short exhibition of “China stuff” from 40 years ago onwards—held in a specially erected steel tent near Zhongshan Park, one metro station from CAPA’s Shanghai campus. Starting just before the weekend to facilitate attendance, it ended on Tuesday, December 18 to commemorate the special day. I was privileged to get a ticket to attend and I did not see any other foreigners while there. I will discuss some of the exhibition highlights below, but first a bit more background.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, International Education

On This Day: China's Past & Why We should Never Forget December 13

Dec 13, 2018 10:37:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Today is the 81st anniversary of an event that horrified the world. On December 13, 1937, during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, Japanese troops attacked the then capital of China, Nanking (Nanjing) - the government already having relocated - and over six weeks, according to records and reports, murdered around 300,000 Nanjing citizens, including women and children. Today fewer than 400 survivors are still alive to tell the tale.

The story of the Nanjing Massacre has been well told in Iris Chang's 1997 book The Rape of Nanking and in several movies in recent years including "Nanking" ,"City of Life and Death", "John Rabe" and most recently "The Flowers of War". It was perhaps fitting that, along with my students, we watched the showing of "The City of Life and Death" in a large movie theater in Nanjing in 2009. We were a small Western group in a cinema packed with locals and it was impossible not to feel the tears of the audience that night. I wondered how many in that very audience had lost grandparents and other kin in that massacre.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Beijing, China, Local Culture

Connecting Global Cities: Sister Cities

Oct 25, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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Sister Cities are sometimes referred to as “Twin Cities” but that term has another meaning as well. In USA, it is used to refer to two cities of similar size that are geographically close together. Two examples which I have visited a few times are the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (in Minnesota) and San Francisco and Oakland (in California). Some are twins across a border and quite close to it—San Diego in USA and Tijuana in Mexico (I have visited them too). The term is also used in other countries. Sometimes such twin cities lose their individual identities and merge.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2018_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Colin in a CityPhoto credit: Colin Speakman

Budapest in Hungary, which began as two cities (Buda and Pest) twinned merged in 1873 to become a united city. Where I live in China I have several friends from the city of Wuhan; I wonder if they learn that Wuhan was created in 1927 from no less than three neighboring “tri-cities” of Hankou, Hanyang, and Wuchang. We can see where “WuHan” came from combining parts of each city.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: The U.S.-China Case Study

Apr 19, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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There are times when studying abroad that important global events occur and this provides the opportunity to examine them in a different culture.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2018_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Shanghai, the World’s Top Cargo Port by Value Photo: Shanghai, the world's top cargo port by value from Colin Speakman

In the second half of the 1980s I was teaching International Economics and International Finance at an American university in London—where there were more than 100 nationalities on the campus with a significant percentage of students from the U.S. There were some important events to use as case studies.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: Economic Power of Global Cities

Mar 22, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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New York may have been unhappy at being knocked off the top spot on A.T. Kearney’s Global Cities Index by London, but they will be happier to note that a survey of global cities by “economic power,” compiled by Oxford Economics, puts them at number one.


CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2018_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - George Washington Bridge-Wiki Commons.png
Photo: George Washington Bridge from public domain

Economic power here is measured by GDP of different cities when converted to U.S. dollars and Oxford Economics have produced an interesting list. However, there are some important caveats. Firstly, the survey is future focused to project the ranking by 2030, not the current state of play—and things can change.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities, Globalization

Connecting Global Cities: Celebrations and Tribulations of Chinese New Year

Feb 15, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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“Xīn Nián Kuài Lè” (Mandarin - Happy New Year) or “Kung Hei Fat Choy” (Cantonese - Happiness and Prosperity) were sayings echoing out around Asia and beyond, even as far as London’s Chinatown when the Chinese New Year celebrations got underway as a near global event from Friday, February 15 (New Year’s Eve and China National Holiday) ending by Thursday, February 22.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2018_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Chinese New Year Parade in London 2018.pngPhoto: Chinese New Year Parade in London by Colin Speakman

Of course, these holidays are found in other parts of Asia and, in 2017, I celebrated in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the period of Vietnam’s Tet. This time I was in London and Western countries have no holidays for Chinese New Year (though China has National Holidays for January 1—three days this time). Thus, it was on Sunday February 18, a couple of days’ later, that London’s Chinatown held the famous parade and events in Trafalgar Square. I was there to celebrate the Year of the Dog even if with the help of a Snake (it was not the Year of the Frog!).

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities, Cultural Insights

Connecting Global Cities: Expats Away from Home

Jan 18, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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Happy 2018! The stimulus for this topic came partly from being sandwiched between the Western New Year and the Chinese New Year this month and partly from a contribution I was asked to make by China Daily on ex-pats’ reflections on being away from home for the holiday season, Christmas to some. You can read that article here.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Spring2018_From Colin Speakman - December 25 in Shanghai.jpgPhoto: December 25, 2017 in Shanghai by Colin Speakman

It shows that there are some celebrations that are quite hard to replicate in foreign parts for expats abroad. Even in cities ranked as global cities, it is not always possible to find authentic celebrations from back home.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: Review of 2017

Dec 21, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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We have nearly reached the end of an eventful year in the trends in globalization. The year started with the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA and we saw the implementation of campaign promises to “Make America Great Again”. The implications were that global trade agreements had disadvantaged the USA and benefited their trading partners - hence President Trump withdrew the USA from the proposed Transpacific Partnership, from the Paris Climate Accord and generally stated that he believes in fair trade by bilateral agreements rather than multilateral agreements. This step backwards on the long path of globalization has been countered by the actions of China in championing open trade and criticising protectionism and continuing to propose regional trade agreements in Asia.

This year we saw more flesh put on the Belt and Road Initiative to link Asia and Europe and the growth of membership of the Beijing headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which is supporting this. This last month of the year more countries joined it taking the total membership to 84 countries - with the USA remaining steadfastly outside.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: The Future of Globalization

Nov 16, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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Globalization has been a theme of this column on connecting global cities this year – and has featured more visibly in some months. This month seems to be the biggest one for this area because several globalization-related conferences have been happening and not at least one that is about to happen.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2017_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Globalization_4-896092-edited.png
Photo: Globalization in Action Day Conference to be held in CAPA London

CAPA is hosting a Globalization Conference in London tomorrow which our students there will attend and other students in our European time zones will also be involved with in real time. Yet our students in more distant time zones will not be left out – they have already prepared insightful reflections in videos to be shown on the day. That includes videos of interviews I did with five CAPA students in Shanghai. I am sure we will return to the output of the conference once it has taken place.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: World Skills

Oct 19, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by 'Connecting Global Cities' by Colin Speakman

Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Resident Director for CAPA Shanghai.

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Now that sounds pretty Global—"World Skills." In fact Wordskills International is a global event that dates back to 1950, when it was first held in Madrid, Spain. It is a suitable event to bring together participants from global (and other) cities worldwide; almost 60 WorldSkills Member countries and regions typically enter teams to compete. WorldSkills promotes vocational skills through its membership, which represents two-thirds of the world’s population.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2017_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - WorldSkills_1.pngPhoto: WorldSkills Competition Media Release

The event is held every two years, and has been dubbed the "World Skill Olympics," as it displays world-class levels of vocational skills in various fields. It is topical to cover it here as the 2017 edition (the 44th) recently got underway this month in Abu Dhabi.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

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