“China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.” –Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle sure had a good grasp of the obvious.
There are a lot of people here; in urban Shanghai there are 3854 inhabitants per square kilometers. That’s not as dense as say Manhattan, but when you take into account the physical size of this city you wind up with over 23 million people!
Where I really notice the abundance of people is in the stores, malls and hotels–the places I have been frequenting since I arrived 4 days ago. Many stores have black-suited white-gloved doorman opening doors. Restaurants are hugely over-staffed–by American standards– with waiters lined up waiting to take orders, or clear an empty plate before your fork hits the table. There are security guards everywhere: malls, stores, parking lots, apartment buildings, housing developments,both large and small, expat and Chinese, government buildings,office buildings, metro stations, parks and almost anywhere else you could imagine. Last night, I watched as three security guards worked the entrance to a parking garage at the mall that had an automated gate and ticket dispensing machine; one guard stood at the curb and placed and removed a traffic cone, letting one car at a time in off the street. Another guard then placed a traffic cone behind the automobile as it sat at the ticket dispensing machine waiting for the arm to raise. The third uniformed guard observed.
In 2012, Shanghai raised its minimum wage 13 percent to 1,450 yuan ($230) a month. Labor is cheap.