Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shanghai World Expo 2010

The world renowned Shanghai World Expo has bee officially opened by Chinese President Hu Jintao। This is the first time the World Expo is held in China in the 160 years of World Expo history. When the first World Expo was held in London in 1851, the wave of the Industrial Revolution swept through Europe and the exhibited items were mainly developed nations' machineries. The ailing Chinese Qing Dynasty then could only exhibit agricultural products such as silk. It is thus amazing that when the New China began to reform and open up, China only took 30 years to narrow its gap between China and developed countries and is able to host such a massive World Export in Shanghai this year. The Shanghai World Expo's theme is: 'Better City, Better Life'.

The Groundwork
China began the preparation of Shanghai World Expo in 2002। It has invested not less than $45 billion capital investment in the 2010 Shanghai Expo. There is no doubt that this 2010 Shanghai World Expo has created many records that can be difficult for the future World Expo in other countries to surpass. These historical records include the fact that the Shanghai Expo has the largest site in term of space, a record high of the number of participating countries coming from different world regions, as well as the general perception that this 2010 Shanghai Expo will be attended by largest number of international visitors.

When the 2000 World Expo was held in Hanover in Germany, it broke the World Expo record of having 155 countries participated in it। However, the 2010 World Expo held in Shanghai has a total of 189 participating countries. Among these countries, there are 22 countries that have not even established diplomatic relationship with China. In addition, 57 international organizations have also taken part in this Shanghai World Expo by exhibiting their products. In total, the Shanghai Expos has accommodated 245 exhibitors. According to past record, the highest number of visitors who attended World Expo was the one held in Osaka, Japan in 1970. It recorded 64 million visitors. However, the estimated visitors for the 2010 Shanghai Expo visitors will be more than 70 million visitors. Expo Shanghai has occupied an area of 5.28 square kilometers of space. This paramount space is also the biggest as compared with all the previous World Expo.

To the people in China, being able to create so many breaking Expo records has carried with it a very important symbolic meaning। First of all, it tells that the ability for China to host an Expo the largest ever is undoubtedly the best proof of a rejuvenating the China as a nation. This is an inspiration to boost the 1.3 billion Chinese people's great sense of national pride. For a long period of time the Chinese media have been stressing that the Shanghai Expo is a century-old Expo dream coming true for the Chinese. When this dream finally becomes true, the people of China have truly and naturally proud to associate with such glory. Second, the success of China in organizing and hosting the World Expo in Shanghai is also a concrete expression of the strength of an emerging China. Just a few days ago, the World Bank has passed its reform program. For the first time in history, World Bank has upgraded the voting right and voting weight of the developing countries. At this round of World Bank adjustment, China has now become the country with third largest voting weight after Japan and the United States. This is another sign to show that after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Shanghai World Expo is another global event that has reflected that the combined national strength of China has now been upgraded to be positioned among the top few nations.

Significance of Shanghai World Expo
However, the significance of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo should not only be relegated for China to show off its strength and ability। The significance of the Shanghai World Expo should not only be limited to reflect China's achievement. This is because from the total number of participating countries at this Expo, the Shanghai World Expo can be said to have done what a real World Expo has accomplished. At the Shanghai World Expo, almost all countries and regions around the world are involved. The so-called moral support from many countries can be seen as China's harmonious development concept has indeed received good feedback and support from the world community. In any case, the Shanghai World Expo has not only carried significant meaning to China as the largest emerging developing country in the world; for Asia as a whole, the Shanghai Expo has also carried similar significant meaning to Asia nations.

China is now entering a new Golden Age, its influence is spreading। It has attracted worldwide attention. It is because of China's attraction that all world nations have now put their focus on the 2010 Shanghai Expo. As a nation, China itself is moving towards economic recovery. Asian nations as a whole have also been driven by China and become the first batch of nations with the ability to move out from the global financial shadow and steadily moving toward economic growth. What comes next is that the world economic pattern has also begun to change. The gravity of world economic development has gradually shifted toward Asia.

Benefit China's Neighboring Countries
The Shanghai World Expo will certainly be able to play a positive role to further stimulate China's economic growth। Shanghai is China's most populous city and biggest commercial center. By hosting the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, without any doubt, Shanghai's reputation and status will become even more prominent in the world map. The huge Chinese market will certainly have greater appeal to the world. Such development will not only allow China to plan its next stage of economic development, such development will also benefit China's neighboring countries and allow the economic development in China's neighboring countries to enjoy certain degree of multiplier effect.

However, the significance of the Shanghai World Expo should not be limited to China and Asia। Otherwise, it will lose its deeper significant meaning as the 'world' expo. The 21st century can perhaps be the fastest urban development period in world history. Among all nations, Asia is going through rapid and fastest urban development. China has an annual urbanization rate of between 0.8 to 1 percent. At present, it is estimated that out of the total global population growth, more than half of the world population now live in the cities. Therefore, the future prospect of urban life is a global issue. It is also a major issue for sustainable development. In this regard, there is a need for all nations that have gone through their urbanization process and with resources in different aspects of urbanization to share and cooperate with one another in this vast space of Shanghai Expo.

Important Platform for Innovation
As the first World Expo using 'city' as its theme, we hope all the world nations that take part in the Shanghai World Expo in the 198 days of exhibitions can, besides displaying their respective national achievements, also share this rare opportunity to exchange and communicate their respective urban development experience to one another and to plant the seed for the concept of 'Green City,' so that given time, the 'Green City' concept can further be explored to become a new urban development model।

Traditionally, all countries regard World Expo as a venue to show case their respective economic and social development, history and culture, advanced technology and to serve as an important platform for innovation. However, I hope that the 2010 Shanghai World Expo can bring this platform to a higher humanity level as countries come together to share their urbanization perspective. Thus, from a distance, I wish the Shanghai World Expo every success.

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