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Shanghai Expo Needs Legal Tools

"Hosting the expo and improving the legal environment should be two interactive processes," Zhou Hanmin, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, told a forum on legal issues surrounding Expo on Saturday.

Although China has a comprehensive legal system, there are still areas concerning the expo that are not covered by the existing laws and regulations, he said.

Zhou, a law professor who heads the bureau's legal affairs department, said an event as big as the World Expo will undoubtedly enhance legislation in related areas, such as intellectual property rights (IPR) and customs regulations on exhibits.

He pointed out that hosting the expo requires efforts from the whole country, not only Shanghai. Adjustments and improvements in state-level laws will be necessary to ensure a successful event.

He said that enacting comprehensive laws especially for expo is neither practical nor necessary.

"During the preparation stage, we should make full use of existing laws. During the expo period, there should be special regulations in place, especially on IPR issues."

Shanghai has been lobbying the State Council to enact a regulation to protect the Shanghai expo's logo and other marks, because existing IPR regulations in China don't provide adequate legal basis to protect expo-related titles and logos. The existing regulations also fail to give sufficient protection to exhibits.

Zhou also said thousands of contracts will be signed. This will also require a great deal of legal work, which the bureau will employ various law firms to handle.

Transparency is also critical for expo, he added.

"We are now studying a proposal to set up a consultancy to answer questions on various legal issues concerning the expo for countries and businesses that will participate."

The first World Expo was held in London in 1851. Since then, expos have been organized worldwide to explain scientific and technological innovations and discoveries for the benefit of humankind to an interested, international audience.

(China Daily, china.org.cn May 10, 2004)

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