Talk about generational challenges!

World Expo brings incredible progress to Shanghai [People's Daily]

July 21, 2010

By People’s Daily Online

The author is Wu Jianmin, a PD guest commentator and honorary chairman of the Bureau of International Exposition (BIE).

I toured all 83 pavilions of the World Expo 2010 from July 5 to July 9 along with other members of the expert appraisal section for the Shanghai Expo, and these five intensive days left me with a deep impression.

People’s ethical conduct has improved significantly ever since the Expo 2010 Shanghai, China was launched on 1 May, according to the leadership of the The Bureau of shanghai World Expo Coordination, and there is a marked decline in such improper practices of not lining-up, littering and spitting.  Although the number of visitors has reached over half a million daily at times, line-waiting at the Expo is a bit like taking the Beijing subway – an orderly flow.  At the 83 pavilions that have been inspected, the public performance is amazing without any hubbub of voices among visitors, and some of them look around quietly as if tuning to learn all the things of real interest to them.

Shanghai municipal authority proposed for upgrading the quality of local residents by taking the Expo as a rare opportunity.  And I personally agreed to such a noble objective and regarded it as reasonable and appropriate.

Whenever asked about what my Shanghai expo worries were on my tour of numerous cities to promote the Expo 2010, my candid reply was that I really worried about the quality of my fellow citizens.  The first World Expo Forum was held in Shanghai in October 2003, and we put up in the old Jinjiang International Hotel.  When the chairman of the Bureau of International Exposition (BIE) then and his predecessor Chairman Ole Philipson were going to attend a function at the nearby 33-story New Garden Hotel Shanghai, they became very worried and held my hands firmly while crossing the street.  They were scared by speeding cars as traffic there did not respect much pedestrians or the traffic lights.

So, I often cited this typical example in my ensuing speeches as I just hoped that more car drivers or cyclists would show courtesy to pedestrians and make way to them, and this was my genuine hope at that time.  When I walked around the World Expo today, however, I saw car drivers behave better with more courtesy shown to pedestrians, who can now walk the crossings at ease.

In many cases, foreign visitors to China are often lavish as they spoke of its rapid development and fast changes and praised the country’s delicious food, splendid culture and achievements in science and technology.  But whenever topics were shifted to toilets along streets, they did not utter a word and even municipal officials declined request for comment.

Things are different at this Shanghai Expo nevertheless.  Chairman of BIE Jean Piere La Fon told me toilets at the Shanghai Expo area are far more hygienic than in European nations; and the BIE Secretary General, Vicente Loscertales, even said he could see few cigarette butts inside the Expo arena and some people were seen subbing out cigarettes and putting cigarette butts in a trash bin.

Why people’s behavior has improved so substantially in the Pudong Expo Area?  There could be a range of reasons to this question:

First of all, people in China have attached great importance to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 as they take it as a great event that has been arresting immense attention worldwide, and they do not want to impair or sabotage the reputation of their country with their uncivilized behavior.

Second, the World Expo 2010 is equipped with most comprehensive facilities, such as the satellite television, IDD fax, and computer facilities in internet access, etc. and it boasts the world’s ace sophisticated management and, third, the overall atmosphere at the Shanghai Expo is sound and, since all people are lined up, I will do the same without exception.

The World Expo has improved the ethical conduct of people in a variety of ways, and the citizen engagement in only one aspect.  One of my acquaintances, a senior citizen in his 70s, told me on the way that he had already made four trips to the Expo and would make an additional round of it four more times, since the Expo covers a wide range of topics and there is too much to learn from.

“Knowledge itself is power.”  At the World Expo 2010, I also happened to meet a massive influx of primary school pupils and secondary school students, very joyous, exciting and enthusiastic, and some of these school kids came from elsewhere in China.  The World Expo has introduced the outside world to China and many Chinese viewers have come to know more about the outside world from the Shanghai Expo.  So I’m sure that the ongoing Expo could exert an impact on a lot of children and youngsters.

In a nutshell, the World Expo, with a mission of promoting the human civilization and progress, will certainly help improve the human ethnical conduct immensely and make China tomorrow much better and more splendid.

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