Op-Ed Contributors

Debate: Shanghai Expo

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-05-10 07:53
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What do people think about the Shanghai Expo? Will the Chinese people feel proud of their motherland after the Expo? Several writers express their different views.

Chance to showcase achievements

By Guo Xin, Jiang Xufeng and Wu Yu

The 2010 World Expo is a great opportunity to showcase a country's achievements. The 1851 London Expo demonstrated the might of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. The 1876 Philadelphia Expo was the coming out party of the then fast-rising new power - the US. The 1970 Osaka Expo marked the revival of Japan from the rubble of World War II.

Eight years ago, Shanghai won the bid to hold the 2010 Expo. Since then China had been preparing for the magnificent event with precision planning and giving life to structures of the highest quality and aesthetics. The event, which will last 184 days with 246 exhibitors and an expected 70 million visitors, is not only unprecedented stage for China to display its economic and technological prowess, but also offers it a chance to learn from the cutting-edge technological and cultural achievements of the rest of the world.

Located in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region, Shanghai is China's most economically advanced and vibrant city, where the stimulus generated by the Expo for the regional economy has been instant. Not surprisingly, the "Expo economy" in the region had heated up even before the event opened.

Wan Jifei, deputy director of the Shanghai Expo Organizing Committee and chairman of China International Trade Promotion Committee, says one unit of investment in the exhibition industry could result in nine units of output in relevant sectors. During preparations, the "Expo economy" stimulated 30 percent of the total investment in the YRD region.

The Expo is estimated to drive more than half of the total investment in the region this year. The run up to the event saw unprecedented advancement in infrastructure construction in Shanghai and its neighboring areas in addition to the investments in the pavilions and facilities on the 5.28-sq-km Expo site.

The S32 freeway, the sixth west-bound expressway from Shanghai that links Shanghai Pudong International Airport with Jiaxing, Huzhou and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, was completed before the Expo opened on May 1. The high-speed rail link between Shanghai and Nanjing, and Shanghai and Hangzhou, with speed of up to 350 km an hour, as well as part of the new Shanghai-Hongqiao railway station will be completed during the Expo.

Many Chinese businesspersons see an abundance of opportunities in the Expo, which will attract visitors from across the globe. Jiangsu province has developed 55 Expo tourist routes and formed three teams to promote Expo tours in Singapore, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Businesspersons from Zhejiang, well-known for their keen market sense, have already undertaken projects worth billions of yuan, such as making licensed products for the Expo.

Since business opportunities in the run-up stage to the Expo have been more than impressive, the six months that it will last are expected to be more lucrative. And the central and local governments and enterprises are well prepared to seize that chance.

Yu Zhensheng, secretary of Shanghai Committee of the Communist Party of China, says Shanghai will capitalize on the opportunity to woo investors and transform its development model.

The Expo offers a priceless chance to China to learn from other countries, adopt new technologies in order to change its economic structure and explore new ways of development.

"Among the huge number of visitors the Expo has attracted are bankers, dealers and investors in Shanghai. They will inject sufficient power into the development of Shanghai and the YRD region in the next five to 10 years and facilitate the integration between the Chinese and the world economies," says Lian Ping, chief economist with the Bank of Communications.

The theme of the Shanghai Expo is "Better City, Better Life". A forum on the theme will be held every month to discuss how to improve urban development and raise the living standards of residents. The theme fits the reality of China, which is undergoing urbanization at a fast pace. Consequently, the Expo will give China a precious chance to adopt a lot of good practices from other countries.

The aim of the Expo is more than just economic development. It is platform for Chinese and foreign cultures to communicate. It is a magnificent platform to exhibit the latest technological and cultural achievements of the entire human race.

Wu Jianmin, honorary president of the Bureau International des Expositions, says the biggest gap between developed and underdeveloped regions is not the stage of development, but ideas. The biggest backwardness is that of ideas. And the Expo can help China enrich them.

The greatest gift of the Expo to China will neither be the massive investment and consumption in the event, nor the spill-over effect of the exhibition economy in the medium and long run, but the creation of an ideal stage to display its achievements and disseminate its values.

The authors are with the Xinhua News Agency.

Debate: Shanghai Expo

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