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Preparations for Shanghai World Expo
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Zhou Hanmin: Sorry.

David Ferguson: No problem. If I can move on, I would like to ask: the people of China will be anticipating and hoping that China's presence of the Expo will be a real credit to the nation, as for example were the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Can you promise something to make the people of China feel proud of their country for the Expo? And will you have any surprises in store?

Zhou Hanmin: In the Shanghai Expo we will have a national pavilion. We call it the China Pavilion. Likewise a beautiful and gigantic pavilion is from Great Britain. The British national pavilion will take 6000 square meters, while China is constructing something even larger because this is the first time to have a World Expo in China and all domestic provinces will participate and so on and so forth.

People will feel very proud of a fact that along with economic and social development China is going to contribute more to the world. It is not the mere pride of a single nation. It should be a pride and glory for each nation in the world because this time we take "Better City, Better Life" as the theme. This is the first time we are touching the core or the core value of human development, because two years ago the United Nations announced we are now in the city era, that means over half of the total population in this world are dwelling here or there in towns and cities. While we feel it's so good to live in cities because we can have more opportunities and much more convenient facilities. Still we are faced with such big challenges, for instance: pollution, traffic jams, shortage of natural resources, congestion of people in a very confined area, and so on and so forth. That is why we are going to offer and to work out a platform for people to have a peaceful dialogue and to seek out certain solutions.

So that is why besides the exhibition by all those countries, we are going to host a series of forums. I do hope you can choose one or two to participate. We are going to have a summit forum, working together with the United Nations to work out a Shanghai declaration, to answer a lot of concerns by people around the world for issues like global warming, the shortage of energy, and so on and so forth. And we are going to have six thematic forums to be held in six cities in Zhejiang Province, in Jiangsu Province – in the Yangtze Delta area. We are going to start a series of these forums from May 1 this year until May 1 next year. In one year time, we are going to organize a series of forums on different topics to let people know and to let people talk.

And this is also the first time we are going to put the Expo online. That means people can discuss, can have interactive actions whenever they wish no matter where they are, to have their voice heard, opinions heard, comments noticed by the organizer.

So I say the pride is not only for a nation of China. It is the fulfillment of the strong belief that the nation of China should contribute more to the whole world.

David Ferguson: Thank you. If we could move on to look at some of the financial issues of Shanghai World Expo. Originally it was forecast to cost around 20 billion RMB, with another operating budget of further 10 billion. Have the budget commitments been held to?

Zhou Hanmin: Very much so. The financial crisis is going on and on in a much deeper way worldwide. No one could precisely predict before and now no one could escape from the effect so far. However just because it is a joint endeavor and effort Shanghai World Expo has got such great support everywhere, so far as the budget is concerned we still stick to that and we have three parts to work all together to fulfill whatever we commit.

The first part is of course from the government. The second is that we've issued construction bonds already, over 8 billion RMB. The last part, but not the least, we have got so many contributions from corporations worldwide. Up to today we've got 13 global strategic partners, another ten we call senior partners, another 13 we call project partners – that means they have contributed at different levels in terms of money to support Shanghai World Expo. We have got huge sums.

And we are going to issue the first ticket on March 27, which means within two weeks time we are going to sell tickets – firstly to groups, secondly to individuals. So individuals worldwide could buy a Shanghai World Expo ticket on July 1. The fee is 160 RMB, the cheapest so far in the whole history. I can give you some other figures: for instance, in 2005, the fee for Expo 2005 Aichi was 258 RMB, and another example is just last year in Zaragoza, the fee was even higher, equivalent to 358 RMB. Why did we take 160 RMB as the figure? Because we did it 6 years ago. In 2003 we decided the amount of the fee. The reason is very simple.

Just as I mentioned, when we bring the world expo home it means we are bringing the world home. So we hope our fellow countrymen and women could have the ability to come down, to see. However, the pity is that the capacity is still not large enough – we could only get one out of twenty Chinese to come down to watch the world exposition. That is why this is so important for us to put expo online.

David Ferguson: One of the other figures mentioned was the commitment by China to make 100 million US dollars available to other developing countries, to help them to participate in the Expo. Have you been able to meet that commitment and how is it bearing fruit?

Zhou Hanmin: Thank you for this question. As a matter of fact, as early as 2001, in the document, we announced, frankly speaking, the largest sum of what we call "facilitation", for the participation by developing countries, 100 million US dollars, not yuan, it is a big sum, meaning almost 700 million RMB. This sum of money went down to the bureau as early as the end of 2002, then we worked out a classification of the category for developing countries.

We are going to contribute to two categories. First, the least developed countries, meaning the per capita GDP equal to 958 US dollars. At this moment, there are 49 countries in that category. Second, middle to lower income developing countries, at the middle level but still very low, meaning the per capita GDP equal to 3258 US dollars. At this moment, there are over 70. That means now we are doing our best for those 120 countries to participate in two very specific means.

First, we are constructing brand new pavilions for those countries free of charge; it is a huge sum of money, not within the overall amount of 100 million, another maybe 100 million for the construction of those pavilions. We are constructing nine in total for developing countries, and another two for international organizations, because lots of international organizations don't have the financial support for the participation, but they are important to participate.

And second, we are going to have an amount of money for each of the developing countries, for the interior designs, for the development of their themes, for the arrangement for the VIP visitors, for the National Day, so on and so forth, because each of countries is going to choose one day as their national day. They need to get that sum of money. So we will contribute 650,000 US dollars for each and every single nation.

So this time you will see that the joint pavilions will be the highlight of Shanghai Modern Expo. The developing countries will feel great to join together, to demonstrate their very much unique culture by themselves, while showing a joint effort for the future.

Preparations for Shanghai World Expo
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