The Expo is coming to Shanghai!Written by Julen Madariaga on March 19th, 2010
I visited an Expo for the first time as a kid, when my school took all my class together to Seville ’92. Spain was living a crazy year, the Olympics where happening at the same time that Summer, and the Expo was designed to be one of the largest ever. Like now in China, there was some debate about the corruption and the money squandered, and people didn’t really know what the show was all about.
In many ways, that first Expo was very similar to the one China is doing now. Spain had to prove something, it had passed its own 改革开放 (reform and opening) in the late 70s with the transition to democracy. Then it went on to join the European Union in the 80s, and by 1992 it was finally starting to look like a developed country. The old pessimistic phrases “Spain is different” and “Europe starts behind the Pyrenees” felt already like something from the past.
Granted, the Reform here has “Chinese characteristics”, and massive population of China needs more time than Spain to complete the Development. But overall, there is a clear parallelism between Spain 92 and China 2008-2010, and that is one of the reasons I am so excited about the Expo. It was great stuff in 92, and I have some cool memories of chunks of icebergs in the Chile pavilion, or an outdoor temperature control system that was unseen at the time.
In the case of Shanghai, not only the host will be doing its best to impress, but also the participant countries are facing the most promising tourism market in the World, and they have a strong incentive to come up with good shows. If the Canada pavilion is representative of the rest, their Cirque du Soleil should give you a good idea of the World class material we can expect.
I had an article published yesterday on Danwei, where I explain why I think the Expo is an event worthy of attention. Since a large part of the readers of China blogs are American, the most expo-skeptic country, my effort is unlikely to be successful. Even among the Chinese, I see little enthusiasm at 40 days from the inauguration, but I think the commenter on Danwei hits the nail when he says these long duration events become more popular after the opening.
I will be writing more about the Expo and Shanghai, so stay tuned. On the MiniYouren I also do updates of interesting daily information on the Chinese press related to the Expo (subscribe via Google buzz or reader). Let me know if you have any suggestion of aspects you might want to read about.
Finally, I recommend the following sites for Expo-related information: