Commercialization is a solution
Zhou Haiwang, deputy director of the Institute of Population and Development at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
I believe the crux of the issue is that the government didn’t imagine the bar street would become that popular when it came into being and create such huge conflicts between residents and fun seekers. The closure may seem sudden but is essential to put an end to the confrontations.
However, entertainment and nightlife are an important part of life for the expatriate community. When they consider settling down in a city, they not only take its economic power into consideration, but also its cultural life.
Shanghai has an ambitious plan for development through 2040. It will strive to be a competitive world-class city, with foreign residents accounting for more than 5 percent of its total population.
The day when the expatriate population of Shanghai reaches a million is just around the corner. (Official statistics show that there are currently more than 170,000 foreigners in Shanghai who have lived and worked in the city for more than six months.)
Although expatriates like Yongkang Road for its strong flavor of daily life with neighbors living upstairs, I believe complete commercialization of the street is the best solution to avoid mixing together those seeking exciting nightlife and the others who simply want to have a good night’s rest.
Xintiandi, a downtown landmark that was once made up of old Shanghai residential houses but has been transformed into a fashion and dining hub for both expatraites and Chinese, can serve as a good example.
Moreover, expats must obey Chinese laws and rules. Anyone violating the country’s laws and regulations faces punishment.
I think if all the bars had tried various means to minimize their influence on residents, such as closing at an agreed time and stopping serving customers when the noise seemed too much, and if the customers had all shown due respect to the local community, we could have seen a better outcome for the bar street.