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.