A river runs through Shanghai

Many people would probably state either Yangtze or Yellow when asked to mention a Chinese river. Hardly anyone would say Huangpu.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Yangtze (or Chang Jiang) and Yellow (or Huang He) are the two longest rivers in China and arguably, the two most famous as well.

With a length of about 6,300 kilometers, Yangtze is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world, after the Nile and the Amazon.

It has also become known in recent years for the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam in the world.

On the other hand, Yellow River is considered the cradle of Chinese civilization.

It is also the second longest river in China and the sixth longest in the world, with a length of more than 5,400 kilometers.

Huangpu takes center stage

These reasons and more explain why Huangpu River is not as well known as those rivers.

Pudong skyscrapers as viewed from the Bund
Pudong skyscrapers as viewed from the Bund

But there’s something that makes Huangpu noteworthy.

It is the river that runs though Shanghai – the largest city in China and the showcase of the economic might of the country touted to become the next superpower.

Huangpu gives life to the city of about 20 million. It provides drinking water and is a vital transportation route.

It divides Shanghai into two sections: Pudong on the east side and Puxi on the west side.

The Bund, on the west bank of Huangpu, is the most famous tourist attraction in Shanghai. The Shanghai skyline can be best viewed from this area.

The cluster of finished and under construction skyscrapers on the Pudong side of the city gave me the feeling that Shanghai is eager to steer the giant nation towards greater economic heights.

I’m sure though that as Shanghai plays this role, Huangpu would provide tranquility to the city’s harried soul.

Huangpu reminds me of this Hal Boyle quote: “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

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