SHANGHAI: The construction of the US pavilion kicked off on Friday as the nation’s strong commitment to the Shanghai Expo is helping enlist more corporate sponsors to fund its presence at the 2010 event.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (3rd L), Chinese Commerce Vice Minister Ma Xiuhong (2nd R), and Shanghai Vice Mayor Yang Xiong (3rd R), attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in east China's Shanghai, July 17, 2009. [Xinhua]
"The biggest challenge for the United States to participate in the expo has been tackled," deputy chief of Shanghai World Expo Coordination Bureau Huang Jianzhi told China Daily on the sideline of Friday’s digging ceremony. "The start of the construction shows the strong commitment of the American government and makes fundraising easier."
On Thursday, three American firms including Walmart, NYSE Euronext and Intel Corporation declared to become the latest partners of the US Pavilion at the 2010 event.
Corporate funding and private donors will help bring about the 6,000-sq-m pavilion, which explores the theme based on core principles of sustainability, teamwork, health and the values of hard work and opportunity. Located on the opposite of the China Pavilion in the expo’s Central Promenade, the structure is expected to complete at the end of the year and final touch to the inner set-up be given before March.
So far the expo has commitments from a record 240 countries and international organizations. The US is the 32nd nation sending working teams to the expo garden, among a list of 40 nations committed to build stand-alone pavilions.
The Shanghai Expo, the ever-largest world’s fair, is designed to be part of a two-pronged demonstration of China’s rising global clout, along with last year’s Beijing Olympics.
But the Asian power was earlier worried the world’s biggest economy might skip it as the 1991 American law blocked the nation from using government funding for expo projects. The signing of a participation contract with Chinese organizers last week put an end to the speculation.
"Our pavilion will be among the largest and we want it to be one of the best," said US Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who arrived in Shanghai to witness the groundbreaking ceremony. "United States and China enjoy many areas of friendship and cooperation, and we believe our pavilion will deepen that bond.
"It will provide insight into the life and culture of American people, insights that will intrigue millions of visitors expected at the 2010 World Expo, including visitors from China and all around the world," he added.
He also said the Obama Administration is committed to strengthening the relationship between the two nations’ governments and friendship between the two peoples.
Calling on more US firms to help fund the country’s presence at the mega event, Locke said: "I want to assure you that your commitment to the US Pavilion and building the friendship with China and Chinese people will not be forgotten."
Friday’s digging ceremony was also attended by officials including China’s vice minister of commerce Ma Xiuhong and Jose H. Villarreal, US Commissioner General for the 2010 fair.
In an address to the ceremony, Shanghai vice mayor Yang Xiong said: "The groundbreaking ceremony is what we have long expected. It finally happens as the Shanghai Expo is 288 days away."
He said the date is especially auspicious as it contains two "eight", a number that has auspicious meaning in Chinese because it sounds similar to the word meaning "prosper". "Against current international economic situation, a successful world expo will help restore the market confidence and help cultural, economic and technologicial partnership among countries," he said. "It will also play an important role to fight financial crisis and promote sustainable developments."