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By the time the Dianshizhai began publication, Shanghai was about to surpass Canton (Guangzhou) as the most important economic hub of Chinese trade with Europe and North America. It had also by then become one of the three Chinese cities most likely to be mentioned in travel accounts and works of fiction penned by leading Western writers. Jules Verne mentioned Shanghai in Around the World in Eighty Days; in his novel Tribulations of a Chinese Gentleman the plot unfolds in Shanghai with a Chinese protagonist who is fascinated by new Western technologies.
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