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April 24, 2010 in The China Beat


Copyright April 24, 2010. Used by permission.


In exactly one week, the countdown clocks in Shanghai will all finally hit zero. This is because this year May Day will also be Opening Day for the 2010 World Expo, an event that has been largely ignored in the United States (at least until very recently), but has been the subject of an enormous amount of advance publicity (and hype) within China, in part because it will be that country’s first World Fair and the first large-scale spectacle held there since the giant National Day parades of last year and the Beijing Games of 2008. It is an event worth paying attention to, even if one feels, as many Americans do, that the era of great World’s Fairs has come and gone, since this one will be the largest in history, at least in terms of the size of the grounds and the number of countries represented by pavilions, and perhaps also it terms of total number of attendees.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the event’s meaning and significance lately, as I travel around giving talks linked to my new book, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, in part because it seems curious to many Americans that the PRC moved right from holding the costly 2008 Olympics to preparing for this new extravaganza. Luckily, I have answers ready, because the new book is all in the Q & A format and there are several questions I address that relate to the Olympics, the Expo, or both of these mega-events.

So I thought I’d share with readers of this blog the explanation I give in the book for why this World’s Fair is taking place in the wake of the Games. The excerpt will provide readers with a sense of the book’s style (something that they can also get from a short pieces on different subjects that ran recently in Foreign Policy andForbes) and perhaps encourage some of them to order the publication or drop in on one of the upcoming book launch events I’ll be doing next week in Washington, D.C. on April 27, New Jersey on April 28, and New York City on April 29 and April 30:

Why hold an Expo so soon after the Olympics?