SHANGHAI — For the itinerant financial journalist flying into Shanghai these days — is a jarring disconnect between the worrying news in the outside world concerning China and the bustling reality on the ground.

Outside of the People's Republic of China, the news is all about the risks of a bursting property bubble, or of rising worker unrest, or of a slowing economy as exports to Europe or the U.S. fade. Once in Shanghai, you feel like you're in any European city, except that the buildings are much taller and the signs are in Chinese. Late-model Japanese, European and even American cars clog the streets, and well-dressed Chinese men and women throng the sidewalks. Not a bicycle is to be seen since these days wealthier people drive cars while the less well-heeled ride on a shiny new subway that in 15 short years boasts more than 400 miles of track, making it bigger than the huge but creaking century-old New York City subway system.

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