How Shanghai’s World Expo Is Showcasing China’s ‘Ultimate Treasures’

By Li Tianxiao Created: May 7, 2010 Last Updated: May 13, 2010
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In the name of preparing for the World Expo, the Shanghai government has relocated 18,000 families and 270 factories. Many residents who lived near the Huangpu River were forced to relocate with minimal compensation. Many have become homeless.(Getty Images)

In the name of preparing for the World Expo, the Shanghai government has relocated 18,000 families and 270 factories. Many residents who lived near the Huangpu River were forced to relocate with minimal compensation. Many have become homeless.(Getty Images)

With Chinese leader Hu Jintao‘s directive to “marshall the full resources of the country and pool the wisdom of the entire world,” and after nearly 10 years of planning and preparation, the Shanghai World Expo finally got underway on May 1.

The Expo will exceed the Beijing Olympics in all aspects. Zhou Yongkang, chief of the Ministry of Public Security, has promised to guarantee security, and there is the mysterious enticement of offering up the “ultimate national treasures.”

The first “ultimate national treasure” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is its unprecedented plagiarism. China’s “shanzhai” products, namely imitation and pirated products, have riveted more attention than any of China’s antiques or other country’s precious treasures ever could, with the three main symbols of the Expo—the theme song, the mascot, and the China Pavilion—all products of plagiarism. They certainly showcase the pinnacle of the CCP’s history of plagiarism.

The second of the "ultimate national treasures" are the unique “World Expo refugees,” who are a distinct product of the Shanghai World Expo. For the sake of constructing the Expo, the Shanghai government has displaced 18,000 families and 270 factories. Many residents who lived near the Huangpu River were forced to relocate and given minimal compensation. Countless have become homeless while some have been detained, beaten, and even killed.

A faction of refugees protesting the World Expo atrocities have begun petitioning (for an unprescribed length of time) at the United Nation’s headquarters in New York, now also known as the “Shanghai World Expo New York Pavilion.”

Since the CCP won the bid to host the World Expo in 2002, it has never ceased to transgress upon social propriety, creating various unjust issues, including coercing residents to sign relocation contracts while offering extremely low compensation. The unyielding ended up as homeless refugees. The creation of tens of thousands of “World Expo refugees” has really showcased the 20 million petitioners: a product of the CCP’s 30 years of reform and opening up.

The third of the “ultimate national treasures” are the immeasurable and clandestine profit deals. To date, the detailed budget expenditure for the Shanghai World Expo has not been made public, and its decision-making process is a total black-box operation.

The CCP does not dare to clarify whether the Expo is losing money or making a profit for two main reasons. The first is that the huge, black hole of expenses and losses of the Expo cannot be publicized, as it would provide a starkly ironic contrast to the CCP’s publicized propaganda campaign slogan to “run the Expo with thrift and probity.”

The “Registration Report of the World Expo 2010—Shanghai, China” stated the expense to be an estimated 28.6 billion yuan (US$4.19 billion), yet it was exposed by the Washington Post that the actual cost may be as high as 400 billion yuan ($58.58 billion)—roughly equivalent to military expenditures for one year. This estimate does not even include the huge expense of relocation and demolition.

If the cost of mobilizing the entire nation’s resources were also included, the real cost for the Expo could significantly exceed anyone’s imagination. Therefore, the most convenient way to describe the capital outlay is to be vague.

Another consideration is that developers authorized by the Shanghai municipal government were guaranteed to profit handsomely. The Expo site occupies 5.28 million square meters, and after being “gold-plated” by the Expo, sites can be sold for high prices, ensuring a huge profit margin. While on the surface hosting the Expo is to raise China’s global image, in reality, it is for the CCP to plunder from the people, so, of course, the secretive deals will be withheld from the public.

Moreover, on a day-to-day basis, Shanghai residents have to endure various inconveniences, such as transportation and higher real estate prices. There are restrictions imposed on drying clothes in public and wearing pajamas on the street, and the enforcement of using a real name to register for such purchases as a knife or rat poison. The Expo carries no real benefit for Shanghai residents, aside from satisfying the vanity of some, at best. Ordinary tourists complain of expensive food and drink, crowded parks, and inconvenient transportation.

It’s anticipated that the authorities’ efforts to suppress human rights will even exceed measures taken for the Beijing Olympics. Human rights activists in Shanghai are being harassed and monitored. Zheng Enchong, a human rights lawyer, has been put under 24-hour a-day surveillance. Over 100,000 foreigners working in Shanghai have been required to adhere to a curfew of 11 p.m. There is no place to demonstrate, and protests or parades are out of the question. While some may say that the hardware looks nice, there is frustration and anger evident everywhere.

The root cause underlying the CCP’s motivation for hosting the Expo is to glorify itself and gain political capital: not to benefit the people.

The Expo dates back more than 100 years. The CCP could have taken this opportunity to demonstrate human civilization and advancement, yet it has utilized the Expo as a major political task to incite narrow-minded, nationalistic frenzy which is supposed to help legitimatize the regime. Its mode of operation and propaganda dissemination has completely followed the prototype of the Beijing Olympics. Accordingly, rather than something to benefit the people, the Expo has turned into a mechanism that tramples people’s interests and rights, even to the point of persecution. Consequently, the Expo has become disastrous for Shanghai residents.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng’s recent visit to Taiwan and his promotion of the theme, “Better City, Better Life,” was not as well-received as expected. No wonder Han Han, China’s most popular blogger, writer, and pop icon was inspired to write an article titled, “Come Quickly, Leave Quickly,” implying that the Shanghai World Expo is not welcome in Shanghai.

Read the original Chinese article.


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