Beijing on Barack Article

Expo Spotlight

Walter Wang, Jr.


China’s rise as a world power has often been attributed to the mobilization of its massive inexpensive labor force to dominate manufacturing sectors, usually at the expense of social and environmental concerns. However, the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 (the “Expo”) represents a turning point in China’s history from manufacturing giant to socially conscious global leader. While there were over 73 million visitors to the Expo, the participants were not simply those who comprise the upper echelons of Chinese and international society. The Chinese government provided 2.6 million free tickets to households in Shanghai encouraging attendance by all members. Millions of people, represented by a cacophony of dialects, blue-collar workers, grandmothers, and entire families guided by the industrialized nation’s etiquette were bused in from all provinces of China for attendance of the World Expo. Attendees marveled at many examples of China’s innovation and China’s emphasis on green energy such as the Theme Pavilion in the Expo featuring 5,000-square-meter “green walls” covered in plants, the largest ecological walls in the world. The Expo was not simply a demonstration of Chinese power to the international community; it was also about exposing Chinese citizens from all walks of life to a new level of globally conscious awareness—raising the bar once again for a maturing global leader.

© Copyright 2012, U.S./China Media Brief Program, UCLA Asian American Studies Center