No Dogs or Farmers Allowed

Danwei posts this photo from the entrance of a department store in Changchun:
No dogs or farmers sign, Changchun, China

Dogs and farmers not allowed. Color me unsurprised.
A long time ago, according to legend Huangpu Public Park, across from the British embassy on the Bund in Shanghai, had a sign saying, “No dogs or Chinese allowed”. In truth, the sign did not exist, and Chinese were allowed in. Nevertheless, poor people were discouraged from entering the park–making the park effectively off-limits to most Chinese (though I have seen photos of Chinese refugees turning the parks of Shanghai into virtual tent cities during the War).
Huangpu Public Park and the fictitious sign have always been held up as an example of western imperialism and racism, so imagine my surprise when I first came to Shanghai and wanted to go to a certain park, only to find that tickets to enter it cost 80 RMB each. Though this is only about $12 US, it is a small fortune for most Chinese people, all but making it impossible for anyone but foreigners and the most wealthy Chinese from entering. Effectively, was this policy any different than the policy in Huangpu Public Park?
I’m not defending any of this–I think it is all sad. However, is it possible that the situation in China has always been more complex than many people imagine or try to pawn it off as?

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