Splashed across the front pages of all Shanghai newspapers yesterday were red bold headlines celebrating the city's 50th anniversary of liberation by the Chinese Communist Party from arch-rivals Kuomintang. Shanghai party chief and mayor in the mid-to-late 1980s, President Jiang Zemin, penned a calligraphy bearing the words 'Without the Communist Party, there is no new China' as a gift to the city. A picture of his work was carried by Jiefang Daily and Wenhui Daily, alongside another picture - waxed figures of the 13 young men, with a youthful Mao Zedong, who attended the first national party congress at 76 Xingye Lu, Shanghai, in July 1921. Other mainland cities will join the nation-wide 50th anniversary celebration of communist rule on October 1. So why is Shanghai having two rounds of merry-making? The short answer is Shanghai is the key to modern China and is the birthplace of the Communist Party. It was in Shanghai where modern China felt the full brunt of Western humiliation on Chinese soil. The city was carved out in parcels to foreign powers led by Britain and France, with the Chinese having no say in how they were run. It was in Shanghai where modern Chinese patriotic and cultural ideas, culminating in the May Fourth Movement in 1919, took off, and where Marxist theories had a grip on idealistic and passionate young men and women who would risk their lives to save their country from the shackles of Western imperialism and exploitation. Revolutionary cells sprouted secretly and soon the Communist Party was born in Xingye Lu in 1921. The ranks of the communist proletariat spread in factories, schools and universities, which would soon provide a fertile ground for a social revolution. It was in Shanghai where the evils of capitalism - poverty, prostitution, child labour, drug peddling - stood side by side with the splendour and decadence of the capitalist class made up mainly of Europeans and the Chinese compradors. The hybrid of Western and Chinese cultures, the semblance of rule of law in the foreign-occupied land concessions, the migration of talent from other parts of the country to Shanghai, the flourishing opium and other trades, helped the city to become an unrivalled financial centre in the Far East. Yet, for all its veneer of wealth, Shanghai stood for most things the egalitarian philosophy of Marxism opposed: a land of exploitation, materialism, cruelty, and starvation for most Chinese. Thus, when the People's Liberation Army marched into Shanghai on May 27, 1949, to deliver the Chinese from the evils of capitalism, the victory was that much sweeter. Yet, for most of its residents, that was not to be. The Paris of the Far East, which reeked of capitalist moral odour, was neglected for the best part of the liberation, and became the plotting ground of the catastrophic 10-year Cultural Revolution. By 1980, the city was in decline, and according to Jiefang Daily, was becoming infamous for being densely populated with crowded factories, narrow streets and little greenery. These problems were dealt with by the leaders in 1980s. Thanks to the vision of the late Deng Xiaoping and pushed mainly by Premier Zhu Rongji, who was mayor after Mr Jiang, the city that was among the most famous in the pre-1949 era is again being rejuvenated into a handsome metropolis. Ironically, some of the evils of capitalism - prostitution and drug-taking - have resurfaced, along with another capitalist feature: job redundancies.