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    Capturing Chinese — Shanghai Expo 2010

    Shanghai World Expo 2010

    Last week my wife and I headed off to Shanghai to visit the World Expo.  Before departing so many memories of previous trips flashed before my mind.  The very first time I headed to China was in 2003 right after the summer of SARS.  Notably the streets were empty.  Tiananmen Square was mine for the taking and the Great Wall was only our tour group of five people plus a few hawkers.  I didn't realize it wasn't crowded until my next trip when I was utterly shocked at how many people China can bring to events. My first trip was sponsored by Cornell University, where I received a check to travel in China for absolutely free.  That was a seriously amazing deal and I am absolutely loved the trip.  One condition was to write a paper about my experience.  At the time many classmates, newspapers, etc. were focusing on the negative stories coming from China.  I didn't lambaste the Chinese for their lack of manners or criticize them for the pollution, but instead wrote an essay comparing the positive in China with the negative in America. It was an essay quite critical of American policies. Seven years later, I find myself in a different perspective.  Maybe it is because I am now a working professional, or maybe I am just used to the finer things in life, but I couldn't help finding fault with many of the things in China. However, this blog is not another article from a Western perspective about what China should be doing.  This blog is about the purpose of the Expo and how the government is putting on a massive performance to excite Chinese citizens about their country's prospects in the century to come.  The Beijing Olympics was an event for the world.  The Shanghai Expo is an event for China. The government has made an event that millions of Chinese are visiting and is something the Chinese deserve to be proud of. On average 350,000 Chinese citizens from all over the country are storming into Shanghai to see the Expo every day.  Afterward, the bund is filled with tourist families from all parts of China taking pictures of Shanghai's awesome skyline in Pudong (as well as the occasional pictures of lao wai walking by, i.e. me).  The excitement on their faces is palpable. Lu Xun wrote in his preface to Nahan in 1922, "the people of a weak and backward country, however strong and healthy they may be, can only serve to be made examples of, or to witness such futile spectacles; and it doesn't really matter how many of them die of illness. The most important thing, therefore, was to change their spirit, and since at that time I felt that literature was the best means to this end, I determined to promote a literary movement."  I believe the Chinese government has reached the same conclusion.  However, they are changing the spirit of the Chinese through building a spectacular Shanghai skyline (an even taller building is now under construction so it is getting even cooler), a world-class Expo with amazing architecture, and a huge subway network rivaling the world's best. My wife and I headed to the Expo on August 11th entering from the Puxi side.  The Puxi side doesn't have very many pavilions so we took a ferry to the Pudong side where most of the pictures below are taken.  We only went inside the African and Cuba pavilions.  I am not a big fan of huge lines and the heat was raging in mid-August.  However, the sky was blue making it a great day for pictures.  Therefore, we have pictures of just about every country pavilion (from the outside).  If I am missing one, please send a picture and I'll add it. My favorite pavilion is the Luxemburg pavilion. I loved the rusty steel facade and the shapes. A few days after visiting the expo, I couldn't decide which was my favorite. One week later, the Luxemburg pavilion is leaving the strongest memory. Which is your favorite? Please leave your votes below!