Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shanghai sets expo apart from Beijing Games

By Grace Ng, China Correspondent, The Straits Times (Singapore)

A key attraction at the expo will be more than 50 eye-catching pavilions, including this one from China, which towers over those from other countries. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING: With just about 100 days to the World Expo 2010, host city Shanghai is looking to pull off a bigger, better and longer show than the 2008 Olympics hosted by arch-rival Beijing.
Shanghai Vice-Mayor Yang Xiong yesterday emphasised that the expo's opening ceremony on April 30 would be different from the Olympics' awe-inspiring opener.

The long-standing rivalry and competition between Shanghai, China's cosmopolitan financial centre, and Beijing, the country's political capital, is well known. But the past two years have seen Shanghai waiting in the wings while Beijing basked in the glow of international media attention, first with the Olympics, and then with last year's spectacular 60th National Day parade.

The expo offers Shanghai a chance to get back into the limelight. Indeed, statistics offered by the municipality are all about beating the Beijing Games.

Nearly US$4.2 billion (S$5.8 billion) will be pumped into the six-month-long expo, almost double the US$2.3 billion the Chinese government spent on the 16-day Olympics. Expo visitors are expected to hit some 70 million, vastly more than the 1.3 million who went to Beijing for the Games.

The event will also out-green the 'Green Olympics' with an all-out effort to create a low-carbon, energy-saving and water-conserving event. The expo will offset up to 70 per cent of its carbon emissions, said Mr Yang.

The issue of toilet cubicles underscore the extent of the inter-city rivalry. Shanghai is building some 8,000 new cubicles, more than the 3,000 public toilet cubicles Beijing built ahead of the Olympics.
And unlike the Games which showcased China as a whole, the expo promises to focus attention on the special features of China's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the mainland, giving visitors a rich experience of the country, promised Mr Yang. A key attraction will be the more than 50 eye-catching pavilions designed by world-renowned architects such as the late Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn, who won the 1997 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The pavilions will showcase the achievements of more than 220 territories and international organisations in commercial, cultural, artistic and other spheres.

Corporate participants showing off their products at the expo will seek business and trade deals, while families and tourists will get to see the food, fashion and musical offerings from 180 countries.

But as much as Shanghai likes to differentiate itself from Beijing, the expo will be employing some of the same measures that the capital used to handle the huge inflow of visitors and traffic.
Mr Yang said that by the time of the expo, the city's subway lines would have doubled to about 420km, and 1,000 new buses will be added to ferry visitors. Shanghai is also said to be considering limiting motorists to drive on alternate days to cut pollution and ease jams.
Expo highlights

THE Shanghai World Expo, which will run from May 1 to Oct 31, is expected to attract 70 million visitors, the largest turnout since the event was first held in London in 1851. China is the first developing country to host the event, which will showcase the cultural, economic, social, technological and artistic achievements by some 240 nations, territories and international organisations.

There will be more than 50 pavilions of various designs, including a basket-like one by Spain and a music-box shaped one by Singapore. China has pulled out all stops for its national pavilion. Its 'space pavilion' is built by its aerospace companies and looks like a huge cube suspended in mid-air to showcase developments in outer space.

Painted in a special red called Forbidden City red, the 'Crown of the East' pavilion will tower at 63m, triple the height of any other pavilion. It will feature distinctive elements of Chinese architecture, including interlocking wooden brackets called 'dougong', which will be used to line the pavilion roof.

Shanghai has also flown in 10 giant pandas for the event.
Question to ponder:
  1. How would Shanghai's World Expo contribute to China's role in the global economy?
  2. What is the main purpose Shanghai "out-green" efforts during the expo?


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