Textiles, steel, manufacturing, shipbuilding, and increasingly China tours the retail sector dominate the city's economy, which reports double-digit growth year after year. At the same time, Shanghai accounts for around 25% of China's foreign investment, with firms from Volkswagen and Buick to Mary Kay, Amway, Hallmark, and Coca-Cola having invested billions in plants and personnel here. In 2007, more than 500 multinational companies were reported to have their regional corporate headquarters in Shanghai. Not since colonial days (1846-1949), when the city was dominated by Western companies, has the port produced such an array of international investments.
Today's business, both domestic and foreign, has made Shanghai quite wealthy by Chinese standards, with rising salaries creating an increasingly affluent middle class. The latter comprises mostly white-collar managers, many of whom earn Yangtze River cruises upwards of ¥100,000 a year. China is expected to become the largest luxury market in the world in a few years, led no less by Shanghai. As China's longtime center of shopping, Shanghai also has plenty of upscale places to dispose of the increased income. Residents are not only forward-looking and business-oriented, but fashionable.
Shanghai is a city of boutiques, malls, and up-to-date department stores. Year by year, it is catching up with Hong Kong as one of Asia's paradises for shoppers. Everything is writ large here. Shanghai is not only home to China's first and largest stock exchange, but it also boasts the world's second-largest department store, China's busiest (and the world's second-busiest) container port, Shanghai tour China's tallest building, and the tallest hotel in the world -- not to mention more than 13 million mobile phone users.With prosperity, even sales of the venerable bicycle, formerly the chief means of transport in the city, have declined (from one million sales in Shanghai in 1990 to less than half that today). Meanwhile, the streets are crowded with more than 600,000 vehicles (including 45,000 taxis) and 280,000 motorcycles.
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