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 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.