Should Shanghai Host Expo?

Expo is just 4 days away. Is it too late to ask this question?

This Expo is Special

This year’s expo is special from most of the expo in the past. To be honest, I have never experienced previous Expo in other countries. I never heard about it before Shanghai started to bid for it.

Now, it is regarded in all the media as an event as important as the Olympics. Is it true? I doubt it. I especially feel so when government officials pointed out again and again that “Olympics is not government hosted – it is just civil events, and Olympics is just 20 days – expo is half year….” It is pretty funny.

Who Pays in Expo?

There are many versions of the answer and for sure, it is not easy to get an answer when all the budget and detailed break down is kept as a secret. I can only list some of the “rumors” I heard.

One version of the rumor is, the central government is paying for it. I don’t really believe in this version.

The other version state that all the money comes from the Shanghai local government, and Expo bond, without any investment from the central government. This version seems more likely to me (baised as Shanghai resident).

Disclaimer: without any solid evidence, I heard many people explain the reason Shanghai MUST get a big event like this: This is the only way Shanghai can keep its cost high, and thus keep more money locally instead of giving it to the central government. The current tax structure, Shanghai, as the economic powerhouse, and big manufacture center, Shanghai contribute a big portion of the total tax income (many sources say above 10%, but there is no way to verify this number).

To get more money for the local construction, it is a good idea to take the chance to build metros (look at the 11 metro lines openned before expo), and airports (2 new terminals), and expressways (many of them). This way, when the cost is up, Shanghai has the bargain power to keep more locally for the benefit of the city.

The Location?

The expo was originally planned in the Huang Lou 黄楼 area (at the intersection of S20 and S1), near the Pudong airport – somewhere out of the outer ring. Later, the plan was modified to be the current downtown location. To make it happen, huge amount of money is needed to remove a steel plant, and a ship building plant. These heavy industry plants were called by some government officals as “the last scar on the face of Shanghai”. The idea is, for a moden city like Shanghai when the land price goes so high, it is not a good idea to have several big plants in the downtown.

Expo is the perfect time to relocate them (with all the huge investment), get the land ready for construction, and build some temp pavilions on it. When the expo is over, that is a new area of Shanghai!

Micro and Macro Level

Although I started to concern about hosting expo based on the recent feedback of the 5 rehersal (people mountain people sea, and a little bit disappointing pavilions), there are some solid reasons why Shanghai wants and needs to build it.

It is about benifit.

11 thoughts on “Should Shanghai Host Expo?

  1. xiaotou

    if hosting expo wouldn’t preclude closing venues like the shelter then i’d say they absolutely should. expo is a good way to stimulate an already booming local economy, but I wish this weren’t at the expense of local culture.

  2. Randolph

    Actually I still did not figure out who is going to pay for the costs of expo. Central government or local government ?Whatever, I think all the money is obviously comes from the tax payer. Not drop from the air.

    As to it’s facilities whether can benefits the people in Shanhai. I’m not that for sure. Maybe the tall building will instead of those pavilions half year late when the poeple on longer to focus on the expo in China.

    I think it is pretty good idea to bring kids there. I think our kids can learn something from the building or patterns. That’s all I’m thinking about.

  3. qingtingwei

    To keep two or three questions is all right before EXPO is finished. But finally we see if it can bring some real huge business opportunities to us and our country can make great progress in many ways during the big gathering and after it. There are more questions better than nothing. As it is, to think of more possible difficulties before and after XEPO can makes us face some problems in easy way.

  4. stephen

    Why don’t you direct you question to the true Shanghaiese living in the city if they are willing to host the next Expo in Shanghai again few years later, the answer may be surprising.

  5. Jian Shuo Wang

    @stephen, right. For the same question, different people may give very different answers. For me, Expo at least means 3 months with crunch – I broke the ankle because of the expo construction made all roads dangerous for passengers.

  6. Ming

    Clearly, is all about tourist dollars. If on average each visitor spend around rmb 7,200 each and the expo expect to draw 70 million visitors…… you do the sum !

  7. stephen

    Jian Shuo, a lot of people in Shanghai may agree the Expo is bringing the city infrastructure to the world class level at a unprecedented pace, in reality, Shanghai is already facing cost-push inflation, what’ll happen when the Expo is over.

    When there is bloom, bust always follow. We see it too often last year.

  8. STLPlace

    The news report is the expo costs about $4.5 billion and Shanghai spend about $45 billion for infrastructure.

    My first response is “gee, that’s a lot of money, can it be spent better somewhere like, education, and rural development, healthcare for poor, etc.”.

    But on my serious thought, I think with current China’s soft infrastructure, spending on expo and Shanghai new infrastructure is probably the most efficient way for some of the wealth being transfer from the government to the migrant workers (and other workers too). Think about this: building and tear down those exhibit halls, on the surface it does not create value, but it does create job opportunities, and use a lot of material, all of which are good for the economy and employment. It’s like economy stimulus when you consider the downturn of exporting industry (with the US financial crisis).

  9. Bob

    after reading the comments contributed “nobody1234” and “STLPlace”, i have no more to comment.

    I like the article from HAN HAN, and spent couple of hours digging his blog this afternoon.

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