I’m with the BH&L Group, a team of world-class Expo veterans struggling to reinvigorate the American effort — fumbled and dropped by the Bush State Department — to feature a US Pavilion at the all-important Shanghai 2010 World Expo. At the moment, there are no such plans. We’re the only country likely not to show!1 And BH&L is the only group that can turn the tide, with help from other Americans. …
We’re hunting for a Project Champion, an American corporate executive most likely, to get us started (i.e., $250,000 to organize, plan, and create enough documentation to pursue serious funding). Although an old law prohibits government funding, we have good connections in the new one and that could change. Unfortunately, they aren’t in charge until February, two months into the one year left for us to do anything of quality.
Jacobson’s group expands on its website:
Beginning on May 1, 2010, and continuing for six months, the nations of the world will gather in Shanghai to participate in what is forecast to be the largest, most heavily attended Worlds Fair in history. Incredibly, without immediate and decisive action on the part of America’s leaders in commerce and in government, the United States of America will be glaringly absent from this global celebration.
The result would be an insult to the Chinese government, global humiliation for the American people, and a serious blow to U.S. commercial prospects in the vast Chinese and other regional markets. The repercussions could reverberate for decades. We don’t want this to happen!
By participating energetically — by creating a US Pavilion in Shanghai and a U.S. Online Pavilion on the Internet — we’ll earn the admiration of the Chinese people and people throughout the world; proudly proclaim America’s traditions and values; announce our nation’s new visions; and contribute to greater global awareness of what must be done to preserve the quality of life in the world’s ever-growing cities.
(Emphasis added by Shanghaiist.)
We have previously admitted that prior to moving to Shanghai, we had no idea World Expos/World’s Fairs still existed. We blamed our American-ness (and one commenter strongly agreed). There may be something to this theory: For the past couple decades, the United States has shown very little interest in the World Expo. Once again, from Jacobson’s site:
In 1991, legislation enacted by Congress — the result of a diplomatic snit — forbade the use of public funds for U.S. participation in Expos. The legislation (wrongly) stated that funding such events was not in the best interest of the American taxpayer. From that point forward, including an embarrassing U.S. showing at the Seville Expo in 1992 and our withdrawal from the Hanover 2000 Millennium Exposition, the U.S. has been largely absent from the Expo world stage. It is also no longer a member of the Bureau for International Expositions (BIE), the international treaty organization that oversees Expos and to which over 100 nations now belong.
It will be interesting to see what happens. Given the current wintry economic climate, will anyone be willing to pony up the dough necessary for a first-class pavilion? And if the US is a no-show in 2010, what will the fallout be, if any? It’s not like China has ever been accused of being easily offended, right?
1 The Shanghai Expo’s official site says 183 countries and 45 international organizations are confirmed participants. Even North Korea.
Image from unitedstatespavilion.com.