Travel Diary: Shanghai Expo, USA Pavilion Celebrate Community

May 23, 2010
Shanghai World Expo Opening Ceremony
Shanghai World Expo Festivities
Fireworks Explode at the Shanghai World Expo

Interactive Travel Map|Text the Secretary|Trip PageAbout the Author: Anne-Marie Slaughter serves as Director of Policy Planning.

A year ago the American pavilion at the Shanghai Expo was a vacant lot, with the skeletons of other national pavilions rising all around it. World expos are a chance for nations to demonstrate their power and prosperity -- the United States has hosted them in San Francisco, St. Louis, Chicago, and New York multiple times. A staple of every county fair, the Ferris Wheel, was invented for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair in an effort to rival the Eiffel Tower built for the Paris Universal Expo four years earlier. This is China's first World's Fair, projected to attract 70 million Chinese and many millions more from all over the world. The America they will see when they visit the USA Pavilion, miraculously erected in one year due to the hard work of the State Department and many private citizens and the generosity of leading U.S. corporations, is a rainbow of diversity and a celebration of community. From student ambassadors speaking fluent Mandarin to truckdrivers and farmers learning to say Nihao, we come off not as an arrogant superpower but as warm, welcoming ordinary people who reflect the world and have the energy and determination to build a better one.

Comments

Comments

John M.
|
Australia
May 23, 2010

John M. in Australia writes:

As an expo enthusiast and professional that has barracked for a USA presence at Shanghai 2010 since early days, it is wonderful to see the USA at Shanghai.

Hilary Clinton and her team are to be heartily congratulated for their efforts in bringing the USA to Expo 2010 in a record time, when it all seemed so probable that the dissenters would hold their sway and the challenge would be too much.

Now that the USA has made it's representation relevant at Shanghai, perhaps it should now also consider rejoining the regulatory body for World's Fairs, the BIE, and to hosting another World's Fair in the near future.

I know my American colleague Urso Chappell of ExpoMuseum.com is trying to build support for both these initiatives. Please support this cause.

Yours sincerely

John M.
Executive Director
Foundation Expo '88
foundationexpo88.org

lilian b.
|
Maryland, USA
May 23, 2010

Lillian B. in Maryland writes:

This was great. Very beautiful.

Catalia S.
|
California, USA
May 24, 2010

Catalia S. in California writes:

@ Anne Marie -

I'm sorry, but yours is a minority opinion. The US pavilion is a shameful debacle, a corporate shell for corporate shills. Just take a look at the coverage in the wake of your visit. The major newspapers were lukewarm. And the liberal bloggers so important to your administration's work are uniformly critical. Matt Yglesias calls it a "national humiliation." See here: yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/05/us-pavilion-at-expo-2010-is-a-national-humiliation.php

Ezra Klein compares it to a Circuit City and says it extols the United Corporations of America: voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/05/the_united_corporations_of_ame.html

Thank goodness the Secretary made sure the US was there. But I'm sorry, there's absolutely nothing beyond that to be proud of in that building. Save your prestige and back off it.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 24, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Catalina S.:

So now that "liberal bloggers" don't have GWB to kick around anymore, this is how they spend their time? I fail to see how they can be "important to (this) administration's work" when they act like America is the root of all problems in the world, and perpetuate the myth of "the evil corporate empire". I'm sorry, there's absolutely nothing in that to be proud of in the building of myth, So save your own "prestige" and back off of it. You can take this Democrat's advice or not, but if you let these folks do your thinking for you, I will only continue to hear the bleating of sheep in your words.

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
May 24, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

The cast of "Glee" would make our pavilion really super! They're like the Ferris Wheel of the twenty first century! And if we could get the people from the "Twilight" movies there, it would be waaaay cooler than the Eiffel Tower!

I get all tingly just thinking about it!

Catalia S.
|
California, USA
May 25, 2010

Catalia S. in California writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -

1. Liberal bloggers played a serious role in this administration being elected. Think about that.

2. Um, Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein are hardly "America is the root of all problems" types. Why don't you read their posts instead of casting aspersions?

3. If you read Chinese -- and I do -- you'd quickly pick up the fact that the US pavilion is a running joke on the Chinese internets. Derided for being a corporate advertisement, and unbefitting a superpower. See, for example, here:

wadlog.com/2010/05/usa-pavilion/

I'm sorry to see Anne-Marie shilling for this debacle. It's WAY beneath her.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 25, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Catalina, I suppose you're entitled to your opinion as much as I am, but you insult a lot of hard working folks that put it together. What would you have perfered? Micky Mouse doing an strip tease? I'll say this, I have a lot of so-called "liberal" friends (and I don't define my friends by lables, they do that.) Everyone of them without exception has a problem with Obama's policies today, some feel betrayed in their support in electing him.

So this is how folks are spending their time, complaining about this instead of offering solutions to a troubled world?....well bully for you! No, I don't think I'll bother to read lame opinions, because I'm too busy trying to cook up something positive as an alternative to the dysfunctional world we live in. See, I didn't vote for the man, but he is my President and he deserves my support after earning my trust. If being at the expo means more job opportunities for folks in the US and more trade between nations as an end result, then who exactly are you to complain about it? As an investment of taxpayer dollars, that's the only bottom line that I'm concerned about. Not whether it entertains the liberal blogosphere or not. Or the Chinese for that matter.

Let's compare, the superbowl has corperate sponsorship and adds run in the millions for a thirty second spot. The olymipcs have corperate sponsorship and advertize during the games. Turn on a TV and half the programming is corperate advertizement. I don't hear you complaining about that. Maybe you're just P.O.'d that you wern't picked to put the expo together and that's why you are so down on Ms. Slaughter personally over it. That dear is the impression you leave me with.
Welcome to the real world.

@ Flavius, you crack me up sometimes....(chuckle).

Robert J.
|
Arizona, USA
May 29, 2010

Robert J. in Arizona writes:

This is an incredibly self-congratulatory and misleading account of what transpired in 2009 and 2010, more fitting for an advertising pitch-piece than the State Department's "official blog." If this is how you interpret for us other world realities, pity the misinformed American people,

For three years, beginning in 2007, the US State Department, which had as its policy the privatization of American public diplomacy, touted a lie that existing law public funding for a US Pavilion. It then wasted two years trying to extort funding from the Expo hosts (who made some concessions) and other non-governmental sources.

Finally, Secretary of State Clinton was forced to personally call upon her Chinese and American multinational friends -- taking time off from finding peace in the Middle East -- to fund the pavilion (even before it had tax exempt status).

The multinationals responded with contributions ranging from $500,000 to $5 million apiece. The result is such a totally commmercialized experience that even the Secretary and her entourage were taken aback when they visited, according to the New York Times and Washington Post.

The damage done to our image among China's leaders, from whom none of these shenanigans remained hidden, is profound and will be long-lasting. So quit the crowing and start telling us how this sort of debacle will be prevented in the future, lest other US Pavilions suffer the same ignomious fate and failed reputations.

John M.
|
Australia
November 18, 2010

John M. in Australia writes:

I've just returned from Shanghai where I was there for the last week of the Expo as a Guest of the Bureau of International Expositions, and managed to see the USA Pavilion on the evening of the last day at the Fair.

And despite the somewhat popular past-time it seems by American nationals to overtly criticize its representation at Shanghai, I must agree with the writer that the USA Pavilion scored top marks in its friendly and warm engagement with the audience - whether that be from the humourous bilingual Student Ambassadors - to the pre-show where US citizens tongue-in-cheek tried to welcome guests to the Pavilion in Mandarin - to the second presentation and main show - where the highest office bearers in the land - Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama gave their own personal welcome - and where a young girl displayed her efforts in a 4-D cinema to create an urban garden in a neglected corner of her apartment block.

Although I got to visit only a few dozen Pavilions in all, the USA Pavilion comes out as my favourite - it made me good about visiting the USA Pavilion - and made me consider favourably the US's efforts at Shanghai - and the US nation.

Thumbs up!

John M.
Executive Director
Foundation Expo '88
"http://www.foundationexpo88.org/"
Co-Host The World's Fair Podcast
"http://www.worldsfairpodcast.com/"

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