I am spending this week and next in Shanghai for my work, which pleases me greatly. It's only my third visit and the first where I have been able to stay a while. I have always been fascinated by China. This is a culture which has existed continuously for thousands of years. I don't have any profound thoughts to offer today. Moving between an hotel and an office block in a central business district is no way to understand a civilisation. I have lived too much abroad to jump to any rapid and foolish conclusions.
My only observation so far is this. Why has our own - supposedly shallow - culture had such a powerful influence around the world? Take dress for example. The Chinese men in the streets of Shanghai are dressed exactly like their counterparts in the City of London. The women too - at least around the offices and shops of the city centre- wear "Western" dress, albeit (apart from the occasional power-dressed businesswoman or administrator) a rather girlish version.
Why? Western dress for men in particular, is boring. There is so little scope for colour or individuality (especially in a recession, when even tiny flamboyances are forbidden). Why did our choices prevail?