Nothing Worth Seeing
Our guide thought this expo was a rip-off, not because of smalltime scalpers like himself, but because of the organizers, who he says are the real scalpers. They do all the marketing to get people there, but cannot provide matching services. They sell overpriced tickets in every possible ways, while giving away free tickets to boost sales volume, he said.
He said that the Expo is already overcrowded, yet authorities are still using every propaganda channel to get more people to visit. He also said those major halls have nothing worth seeing except for some videos. During training he noticed that all the past World Expos in other countries were showcases of advanced technologies and ideas, but this expo has nothing but architecture and videos. He could not understand why it would be regarded to be so important for so many people to come visit.
After walking and looking around for four hours, I had to agree with our guide: this World Expo in Shanghai is a strange phenomenon. I have been to many places in the world but have never before seen so many people standing in line for more than three hours in such hot weather just to see some empty buildings.
And yet the entire state-run media apparatus has been involved in an all-out marketing campaign promoting the Expo, turning it into a gigantic deal about the country's image. I think the World Expo in China, just as the Olympic Games, have been politicized by authorities, and ordinary Chinese are made to pay for it.
The World Expo is a place where the world meets China. What does the world see about China, and what do Chinese people see about the world at this World Expo? Our guide had told me, “This place is full of deception and lies.”
The Macao exhibit hall is an example. [Editor's note: Macao is a territory similar to Hong Kong.] The Macao exhibit uses the most distorted video promotion I have ever seen: speeches by the Chief Executive and other leaders, delicious egg tarts, Portuguese barbecue, ocean vistas, and skyscrapers. What is absent is the most defining feature of Macao—its gambling industry. Can the Macao exhibit be called authentic without mentioning its number one tourist draw and source of revenue?
By now the Expo has obviously reached its visitor capacity, yet many free tickets are still being given away, group tours paid by employers are being organized, and free commercials continue on state-run TV. In Shanghai, films, commercials, and news about the Expo are run almost every hour.
If I were an out-of-town visitor who already bought a ticket to the Expo, seeing the long lines, I would feel I had no choice but paying someone to skip the waiting lines; I might even consider renting a wheelchair.
Yang Hengjun is a commentator and novelist. This article was originally published on his blog.
Read the original Chinese article.