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:

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Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar

    From the Danwei article :

    For most Chinese it is extremely difficult to travel abroad, especially outside the South East Asian region. In spite of the number of foreigners concentrated in Beijing and Shanghai, for many inhabitants of smaller cities foreigners are still a novelty, and their cultures are greatly misunderstood. With the 3 day entrance passes set at relatively affordable prices, these people will flow into Shanghai en masse.

    Sorry but “for many inhabitants of smaller cities” 400 yuans for a 3 days pass + full price train / plane tickets + doubled-price-cause-it’s-the-expo hotel rooms does not sound like “relatively affordable”… Especially if you are a couple.

    I’d say that we’ll meet more tour groups rushing the expo for a single day than people coming for a 3 days trip, especially since there are special “toursim agencies prices”. Don’t you think ?

    I’m also pretty disappointed not to be able to buy an unlimited pass. I thought I could take my time to visit the Expo and enjoy shows or walks during weekends or in the evening without being limited to 7 entries (sold for 900 yuans !!!). It means that although people living in Shanghai have the Expo right next to their door, they will still have to rush visiting it. Maybe it’s not comparable but some parks like Disney Land have an unlimited pass for just the price of 2 single day tickets…

    Anyway I’m still waiting for the show to start. :)

    - Woods

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Mar
    Julen Madariaga

    Hi, yeah, I was expecting some comment to that paragraph. I realized after publishing that it was a bit optimistic.

    I was just speaking with my Chinese colleagues today over lunch and a Waidi guy told me exactly what you say: the price is not cheap when you do the overall calculation. Like you say, most of the Chinese will probably come in tourist groups, which will make it cheaper for them. We can expect to see many of the colored-hat legions led by their commander’s flag, storming all the countries pavilions.

    I think it is essential to get the timing right, because many pavilions like the main Chinese one will be impossible to visit when the masses are there. I am betting for mid-may, with the nice Spring weather.

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Jan

    Great Theme, where did you find it? please share it with me? my email is thanks in advance // Jeraldine Pilar

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Jan

    I love your design, where can I get it? please share it with me? my email is thanks in advance // Rod Rieder

    [Reply to this comment]

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