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'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

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.

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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

Connecting Global Cities: The Sharing Economy in Global Cities

Sep 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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A key aspect of Globalization is the ability to find the same products and services that we value at home in cities overseas. It is clear that such Global products and services have grown in presence whether we are thinking of the iconic iPhone or Starbucks Coffee or uber-style taxi booking. Yet they are not totally seamlessly usable in different countries.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Fall2017_Shanghai_From Colin Speakman - Shanghai Starbucks Outlet.pngPhoto: Starbucks outlet in Shanghai by Colin Speakman

For example the iPhone that I wrote this article on in Shanghai is connected by ChinaUnicom to a China Apple Store where quite a few of the kind of apps I have readily installed in the USA or the UK are simply not available - indeed Apple have been in the news recently for removing a chunk of them at the request of the Chinese authorities.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: Go East Young Person

Aug 17, 2017 12:30:00 PM / 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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American students will recall the advice of their forefathers in the famous saying "Go West Young Man", a phrase credited to the American author and newspaper editor Horace Greeley concerning America's expansion westward. It related to the then-popular concept of "Manifest Destiny" - a widely held belief (subsequently contested) in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America to the West Coast.

 CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Summer2017_From Colin Speakman Sunset.jpg
Photo: the sun sets briefly over Shanghai by Colin Speakman

In popular use it also represented the idea of new opportunities and Greeley saw the fertile farmland of the west as an ideal place for people willing to work hard for the opportunity to succeed.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Why Study Abroad

Connecting Global Cities: The Economics of Living in Global Cities

Jul 20, 2017 3:30:00 PM / 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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Global cities are usually not cheap places to live in, but it depends on where you are. Annual surveys of the comparative costs are undertaken by various consultancies to help Human Resources directors determine fair compensation packages for staff serving abroad for a period - to set the appropriate expat salaries. As I will explain further below, these surveys are not a perfect guide for comparing the costs faced by locals and long term expats in different cities but provide a useful first entry comparison and are often similar to costs faced by tourist visitors. 

This year's Economist Intelligence Unit survey of costs of living in global cities provides a wealth of information - The survey compares the prices of 160 goods and services in 133 cities around the world and, to re-emphasize, is primarily used by human resources managers to calculate compensation packages for overseas postings. 

Which global city is the most expensive? It is not in the top three global cities ranked by the A. T. Kearny Global Cities Index - London, New York, Paris - it is Asia's Singapore. This nation state has retained its title as the world’s most expensive city for a fourth consecutive year. The survey found that Singapore was 20% more expensive than  New York and 5% pricier than Hong Kong, which lies in second place.

A sustained recovery in the strength of the Japanese yen has led to rising costs in Osaka and Tokyo. Asia now hosts five out of the six most expensive cities in the world.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Summer2017_From Colin Speakman Double Decker.jpg
Photo: Hong Kong by Colin Speakman 

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: One Belt One Road

Jun 15, 2017 3:30:00 PM / 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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This is a topical area as last month Beijing held a Conference on One Belt One Road (OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

It was pretty important as it attracted over 65 world leaders directly involved with the project and was dominated by EurAsian powers for geographical reasons.

CAPAStudyAbroad_From Colin Speakman OBOR 1.jpgPhoto: President Xi and President Putin at the conference - AP public domain

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Posted in: Shanghai, China

Connecting Global Cities: Commuting in Global Cities

May 18, 2017 8:30:00 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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Not all cities in the Global Cities Index (GCI) are mega cities of 10 million plus but quite a few are - I live in one of the largest mega cities, Shanghai, at approaching 25 million and I prepared for it by living in Beijing at a bit over 22 million - I think my second home of London at a mere 8.7 million was a good preparation too. 

When I lived in London it felt like a 10 million population city and it is projected to reach that level in the next decade - yet in some ways it is close to being there already in the working day.

This is because the users of a mega city's services in the day time and early evening are not just those recorded as its residents but the vast numbers who work there in the week but officially live elsewhere - they are the long distance commuters - mainly by trains, intercity buses and cars with metro (subway) lines and local buses, and even shared bikes, joining in once these folks reach the city boundaries. 

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Photo: taxis and buses rule in downtown Shanghai by Colin Speakman 

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities

Connecting Global Cities: Billionaires and Les Miserables

Apr 20, 2017 8:30:00 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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Global cities (and the countries they are located in) appear in various surveys each year. I regularly refer to them here. Last month saw two updates released – the 2017 Hurun Global Rich List (and where the wealthiest people live) and the Bloomberg 2017 “economic misery” list, which it is not good to be at the top of.

Money is not the most important thing to value in life – good health is more important, so there are several surveys of the most liveable cities, which I last covered in September 2016.

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Photo: High End hotel in Beijing's Sanlitun by Colin Speakman 

However, there seems to be a fascination about where rich people live and in fact it appears that many choose to live in global cities where they can enjoy all the things that money can buy. I recall an old movie, “The VIPs” where a millionaire was able to write a friend a blank cheque. Nowadays being a millionaire does not get one far into the Rich List. Anyone living in London or New York with a good-sized home and the mortgage paid off is likely to have net assets worth over a million US Dollars. We have to talk about multi-millionaires at least, and for the top end of the Rich List we need US Dollar billionaires. There are 2,257 billionaires in the world, an increase of 69 in the last year, according to Hurun research.

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Posted in: Shanghai, China, Global Cities