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Singapore-style mall in the heart of Shanghai

SINGAPORE -- Walk into CapitaMalls Asia's (CMA) bustling Raffles City property in the heart of Shanghai and you'll feel like you are back in Singapore.

At the edge of the historic People's Square, CapitaLand's mixed-use retail and office development is now one of the firm's prized trophies in its aggressive push into China.

Singaporean shoppers will be greeted by a distinct sense of home in the mall. On the first floor, a familiar BreadTalk bakery, then several floors above, a food court just like those back home.

About half the size of Ion Orchard, the mall is spacious, clean, brightly lit and has a mix of mid-range to high-end stores.

But going back 15 or 16 years, the group's initial foray into China's retail scene was nowhere near as successful, as the Asian financial crisis took its toll.

The ground-breaking for the US$350 million Raffles City Shanghai was in 1996, but construction slowed down in 1997 as the region's economies were thrown into massive upheaval.

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