Saturday, October 30, 2010

Expo 2010 Shanghai ends tomorrow!

I'm very sorry that too many work and community commitments in Vancouver prevented me from returning to Shanghai for another week at EXPO 2010. The fair ends on Sunday, and I came across this story in today's Vancouver Sun. It's interesting to compare the money spent, and the legacies left behind, with the Vancouver Olympics. Unless I'm mistaken, they spent almost 10 times as much as we spent. Both were great events! Here's the story:

World Expo 2010 leaves behind a more livable Shanghai

SHANGHAI — After the party’s over, usually only the cleanup is left. Not so in Shanghai. When the gates of Expo 2010 shut for good Sunday, 20 million Shanghainese will get their first clear look at all the goodies left behind from what may be known for years to come as the most successful World’s Fair.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES On Sunday, the gates to the World Expo — a six-month exhibition of culture and technology that saw record attendance and a parade of foreign leaders — will shut for good.

The payoff for welcoming 72 million fairgoers over the past six months is five new Metro lines, one new airport terminal, myriad of new road tunnels under the Huangpu River, a vastly improved road network and more than five kilometres of prime urban real estate ripe for re-development.

And, this being China, there will be no tax increases to cover the costs.

“ The infrastructure created for Expo is so awesome,” Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, said in an interview. “ The city’s so livable now. It used to take me 40 minutes to drive my kid to school; now it takes 25.”

Rein acknowledges that Expo didn’t have much of an impact outside China, but claims inside the country it was “ huge.”

Officially, the Shanghai Expo cost $ 42 billion to stage. Unofficially, the cost has been pegged at $ 58 billion when infrastructure spending is included.

Fudan University Professor Ge Jianxiong is equally enthusiastic about the infrastructure, but says there is also an “ intangible” legacy that will be left after the largest event ever staged in China closes. The country’s financial capital hosted presidents, prime ministers, princes, dictators and military strongmen.

“ Shanghai has learned from the experience,” Ge said. And not just the city grandees.

“ This was an international event, although the audience was mainly [ 98 per cent] Chinese,” Ge explained. “ The quality of the citizens also improved. We have to admit that there is still some uncivilized behaviour ... but there’s been big progress for Shanghai people.”

Like many other first-world pavilions, Canada’s giant B. C. cedar creation was popular with fair goers. However, most of the emphasis seemed to be on making it a successful business centre, not a cultural attraction. Its giant VIP and conference centre hosted about 100 events over the six-month life of the Expo and welcomed 12 federal cabinet ministers, five premiers, 25-plus mayors and countless business people from every sector of the economy.


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