Province builds on long-term ties with the Expo to showcase harmony
Hangzhou - Expo 2010 Shanghai opens on May 1 and neighboring Zhejiang province is showcasing its rural and urban harmony in line with the international event's theme of "Better City, Better Life".
Zhao Hongzhu (first from right), Party chief of Zhejiang province, inspects the Zhejiang Pavilion before it opens to the public. Huang Shulin / For China Daily
Zhejiang is also helping Shanghai by maintaining a safe environment and pro-viding forums for the Expo, said Zhao Hongzhu, Party chief of the eastern coastal province.
"Running an impressive Expo is the responsibility of the municipality and an obligation of all the provinces and cities including Zhejiang," Zhao told China Daily. "We are benefiting from opportunities arising from the event, so we should take it as a 'glorious mission' to help the Expo succeed."
Zhejiang, which borders the country's commercial hub to the north, has launched a "city moat" project to help ensure that the six-month Expo proceeds in a "safe and sound fashion", he said.
"We have made meticulous arrangements and initiated extensive publicity campaigns to inform the public that the province is going all out to ensure that the Expo is 'safe, successful and splendid'," Zhao said.
"For one thing, we are making sure that there will be no trouble when people travel from Zhejiang to Shanghai, and those coming from the city to Zhejiang will be free of trouble here," he said.
Experts estimate that slightly more than one-third of the projected 70 million Expo tourists will travel to Shanghai's nearby areas.
For example, Zhejiang's Jiaxing, a city that shares a 100 km border with Shanghai, is expected to receive 15,000 visitors a day from the Expo. The authorities have mobilized manpower and resources to enhance safety, according to Jiaxing public security bureau sources.
Zhejiang, one of the wealthiest provinces in China, wants to present a range of "Zhejiang elements" at the Expo, Zhao said.
He said the Zhejiang Pavilion, which resembles a "bamboo cube" housing a huge celadon bowl brimming with water, signifies the abundance of resources and the cultural diversity of the province, and demonstrates Zhejiang's achievements in achieving balanced development in its rural and urban areas.
The province is also helping with the Expo's Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA), which offers an opportunity for cities to participate in the event independently.
As one of the UBPA cases, provincial capital Hangzhou will show visitors how it has successfully managed various waterways, including those of the scenic West Lake, to improve the quality of urban life. Ningbo, another coastal city, will show how its Tengtou village has realized modern urbanization without compromising its unique ecological environment, Zhao said.
"Other than accommodat-ing the many travelers, Zhejiang will also play host to multiple theme forums and other activities of the Expo," Zhao said.
"It is altogether fitting and proper to say that Zhejiang is a 'half-host' of the Expo," he added.
Historically, no Chinese province seems to be more closely related to the Expo than Zhejiang.
The 12 packages of "Yung Kee silk" sent from Huzhou, the province's premier pro-ducer of the finest silk, were awarded a gold and a silver medal by Queen Victoria at the 1851 London Expo, the first World Expo held under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations".
Li Gui, a customs clerk from Zhejiang in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was also the only representative of China's industrial and commercial sector to participate in the 1876 Philadelphia World Expo. Li was the first Chinese person to write a book introducing the Expo in 1878.
In 1929, Zhejiang set out to present a West Lake Expo in Hangzhou, after the 1926 Philadelphia World Expo. The fair proved to be hugely popular, drawing 20 million visitors in 137 days.
At this year's "Great Exhi-bition", Zhejiang will display its traditional products, such as silk or Longjing tea, and also bring together a host of private enterprises, including the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Wanfeng Auto Holding Group, to highlight their brands and corporate images.
The Expo has already brought tangible benefits to Zhejiang, Zhao said.
The Ruyi Gifts and Craft Co has secured a deal to produce 156 types of licensed toys and souvenirs valued at 300 million yuan ($44 million) for the Expo, according to a company press release.
"The Expo offers a grand stage to make Zhejiang better known internationally," Zhao said.
It also helps accelerate the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta, which has emerged as one of the key manufacturing hubs and growth engines of the Chi-nese economy in the past decades, Zhao said.
Similarly, the Bureau of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination has signed comprehensive cooperation framework agreements with 15 cities in the Yangtze River Delta, including Zhejiang's Hangzhou and Jiaxing.
"The hosting of the Expo will vigorously advance the exchanges and rapport be-tween businesses, people and governments in Shanghai and Zhejiang," Zhao said. "We'll see more and more cooperative projects in the fields of economy, culture and technology."
Following the slowdown in demand after the global economic downturn, international protectionism has been on the rise, causing "direct and severe" impact on Zhejiang exports.
Imports and exports have on average contributed about 60 percent to Zhejiang's wealth.
To attain steady and rapid economic growth, Zhejiang is optimizing its economic structure and striving to improve the consumption capability of its residents, by raising income levels of the people and improve logistics to sell more electric appliances, agri-machinery and automobiles in the countryside.