Like any monster event that successfully woos celebrities into the spotlight, the Shanghai Expo will be no exception as it rolls out the red carpet for popular stars including Jackie Chan, Yao Ming and Lang Lang.
Jang Nara is a singer from South Korea.[Asia news photo]
Due to their high profile, the most internationally famous Chinese celebs were selected by Expo organizers as goodwill ambassadors in hopes of garnering greater interest in the six-month cultural gala from visitors.
Knowing just how far celebrity influence goes, pavilions are following suit by soliciting their hometown stars to get involved in promoting their leg of the May to October fair, or to at least make an appearance.
Italy is one participant that has planned their Expo agenda around the availability of their country's biggest celebrities in order to maximize on the fanfare. Italian football champions Inter Milan will arrive at the Italy pavilion in August and friendly matches against local Chinese teams will be organized.
"We invited Inter Milan because we want to attract more tourists, especially Chinese," said Sun Xiaolin, a public officer of the Italy pavilion. "The football team has a lot of fans in China."
Among other admired stars to grace the Shanghai show are American NBA player Kobe Bryant, singer Wang Lee-hom, French movie star Alan Delon, Israeli singer David D'or and South Korean singer Jang Nara.
Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer is also rumored to stop by.
Meanwhile, Canadian personality Mark Rowswell, widely credited as "the most famous foreigner in China" and better known amongst Chinese by his stage name Dashan (大山), will represent his country as commissioner-general for the Shanghai Expo.
The celebrity buzz is certainly on the radar of visitors.
Thousands of fans have been flocking online to read the latest updates on their favorite stars, according to an ExpoSay survey taken at the end of last year. Thanks to their stars' superstar status among visitors, mostly Chinese, pavilions from the United States and France have been deemed a must-see.
Lu Xiaoxia, who works in advertising in Shenzhen, said she will make a special trip to the Shanghai gala for the chance to star-gaze.
"The more celebrities the better," she added.
Meanwhile for Su Xing, an editor of a fashion magazine in Hangzhou, simply staying up on the gossip about her favorite star in the Shanghai show makes her happy.
"I heard that the Taiwan pavilion invited Wang Lee-hom to be their promotional representative," said Su. "He's my favorite singer so I am following their pavilion closely."
Superstars coming to the pavilions
US pavilion Kobe Bryant, NBA player
Canada pavilion Mark Rowswell, the country's
commissioner general for the Shanghai Expo, or better known as "the most famous foreigner in China"
France pavilion Alan Delon, movie star
Italy pavilion Inter Milan Team, football champions
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