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World Expo has plans for US absence
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Shanghai World Expo organizers said Monday they had emergency plans if the United States fails to show at the event.

"While we don't want to say what if (the US fails to find enough funding to support its participation in the event), we have developed emergency plans should it occur. In fact, we have plans for the potential withdrawal of any participants from the event," Hong Hao, director-general of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination Bureau, told reporters at a press briefing Monday, without elaborating on the specific measures.

He said that on request of the Consulate General of the US, organizers had allotted a very "good and appropriate" location for the US pavilion in the expo site. Should the US complete fund-raising and project design, it can still use the reserved land for the construction of its pavilion, he said.

Asked whether time is running out for the US to start construction of its pavilion so it can meet the expo timetable, Hong said participants might as well adjust and optimize the design of their pavilions based on their project's budget and progress.

However, he did express his "sincere wish" that the US would complete fund-raising and start construction of its pavilion "as soon as possible".

Hong nevertheless sounded upbeat about US participation by adding, "progress had been achieved in fund-raising as far as I know thanks to support from both government and enterprises".

"Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been very supportive of US participation in the Shanghai Expo and the US pavilion co-chairs are trying their best to secure private funding and to ensure the US will be represented in the event."

Earlier this month Chinese-American oil entrepreneur James I.C. Chiang said he planned to set up a company to sponsor the US pavilion in Shanghai.

Hong said while he welcomes and appreciates such efforts, Chiang would have to contact the US pavilion co-chairs for the potential sponsorship.

He also wished more US companies would show their support for the US pavilion.

Organizers Monday also confirmed that preparations for the expo have been going smoothly, with 234 countries and international organizations having confirmed their participation in the event. So far, none of them have withdrawn from the event despite the negative impact from the global economic slowdown, Hong said.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million tickets have been sold for the expo.

(China Daily April 28, 2009)

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