Shanghai, China

As China’s economic hub and its first Free Trade Zone, Shanghai is on its way to becoming a global financial centre.

Shanghai is at the heart of China’s booming economy. Its port is an essential part of what makes it the economic and trade hub of the vast country.

During the 1930s, Shanghai enjoyed the distinction of being the most prosperous city in East Asia, and its current comeback began in earnest in the 1990s.

Today, the city hosts almost all financial markets in China, including its stock market, gold market and its foreign exchange market. Shanghai is China’s first Free Trade Zone, which is part of the country’s goal to make Shanghai a global financial centre. Its comprehensive reform program is expected to bear fruit by 2020.

Shanghai generates 8.3% of China’s gross industrial output. It also accounts for 10% of the cargo throughput in the country’s ports.


1. Meals a must. Formal contracts won’t be signed over meals, but negotiations often happen while breaking bread. Chinese businesspeople want to become your friend before doing business.

2. Bottoms up. Wine and hard liquor are traditionally part of business deals. Even if you don’t drink, it’s best to have at least a small amount of wine so you have something to sip during toasts.

3. Punctuality isn't quite so punctual. Because traffic can be unpredictable in China, being 10 minutes early or late is fine. If you’re going to be later than 10 minutes, however, call ahead.

4. They've got the look. For formal business meetings, a suit is advisable for men and women, but if you’re meeting over lunch or dinner, you can wear something more casual, such as a short-sleeved button-up shirt or dress.

5. Say anything.Learning a few words of Mandarin will impress your hosts and colleagues: nĭ hăo (pronounced “knee-how”) means hello; zài jiàn (pronounced similar to “zhai jian”) means goodbye.


1. Shanghai ranks 13th out of 88 countries on the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index.

2. Shanghai ranks 32nd out of 500 cities on the Innovation Cities Index 2016–’17.

3. A total of 25% of the country’s total imports and exports are handled by Shanghai, and the city is responsible for 12.5% of the total revenue of China, according to the Travel China Guide.


1. Take your parka. Shanghai has four seasons, but winter temperatures are a little milder than ours. At their lowest, temperatures dip to -7 C and can go as high as 40 C in summer. Shanghai is less humid than the southern part of China.

2. Language gap. Most Shanghainese will speak some English so you can survive without Mandarin.

3. Here's a tip. Tipping is not customary but much appreciated. If you tip, 10% is considered generous.

4. Getting around Shanghai. The metro is the most efficient way to travel in Shanghai. Didi Chuxing is an Uber-like service and Uber is now also available, but the metro is still the best option.