A symbol to bring about the desired outcome

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-19 07:25



Veteran designer Longtu Shaw (right) holds a poster with an assortment of Haibao, the mascot of 2010 Shanghai World Expo, in different postures. Yoken Wu, the artist who came up with the original idea, displays a sketch of the mascot. [China Daily/Gao Erqiang]

It's a normal Sunday morning. Yoken Wu wakes up earlier than usual. Sitting in his favorite cafe in downtown Shanghai for breakfast, he is overcome by the creative bug. But he doesn't have any paper on him. So he grabs a bill, and takes just a few minutes to do a sketch. Almost satisfied with his creation, he takes his time finishing the coffee before heading to his studio, where he discusses the sketch in detail with other members of his team.

Thus began the journey of the mascot for 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Haibao the mascot, unveiled last night, is the result of eight months of brainstorming and painstaking work by Taiwan designer Wu and a group of mainland artists, led by veteran Longtu Shaw.

The Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination launched a worldwide design competition early this year for a mascot. A staggering 26,655 entries, including 431 from abroad, were received between January 17 and May 31. And the artists ranged from three to 83 years. In the end, Haibao, modeled on the Chinese character ren, or the people, impressed a panel of 11 experts from home and abroad who represented marketing and other relevant sectors, including art.

The adorable and joyous Haibao gives the thumbs-up sign to welcome guests from across the world to Shanghai, the first city in a developing country to hold the event.

Recalling fateful morning in the caf, Wu says: "I often burned the midnight oil to get the right design. But that morning was different. I still don't know why I got up so early that morning because it was a relatively relaxed period for me."

The 42-year-old president of In Show Film Group explains how he thought of using Chinese characters to design the mascot. "The Shanghai Expo emblem shows a family of three holding hands. It looks like the Chinese character shi (or the world). So I thought the mascot should have a relation with the emblem."

It was then left to the award-winning Shanghai artist Shaw to extend Wu's idea. Giving up Wu's original idea, Shaw chose the Chinese character ren to highlight the importance of people living in cities and resonate the Shanghai Expo theme of Better City, Better Life.

"The expo's aim is to create a harmonious relation among human beings, nature, technology and the environment," says Shaw. "It will also reflect our country's increasing respect for the people."

Before coming up with the final design, Shaw also pondered over Shanghai's characters as a city of height, power, speed, wisdom and quality. He chose sea blue as the main color to represent elements of the Earth, dream, ocean, future and technology, to showcase China's stance of trying to embrace the world.

Its carefully thought out name, Haibao, can be pronounced and marketed in all languages, though the original and full name is si hai zhi bao that literally means the treasure of four seas or the treasure of the world. Haibao also means the treasure of Shanghai.

The artists who worked on the mascot say its real worth is its simplicity. It creates room for artists to work on new designs for other events.

To popularize Haibao, the country's postal bureau will issue a set of commemorative stamps today. Authorized outlets in Shanghai and Beijing will start selling Haibao souvenirs and stuffed toys, and they will be made on a mass scale from next year.

Till Monday, a record 184 countries and international organizations had confirmed their participation in the 184-day expo.

"The Chinese people have waited more than one and half century to hold a major global expo," Wu says. "Chinese around the world have contributed a lot to world expos since the London World Exposition in 1851, which stated the international trend. That's why the Shanghai World Expo is once in a lifetime chance in an artist's life."


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