The battle to bring the U.S. pavilion to the World Expo in Shanghai seems to just get more complicated as the days count down. According to China Daily, a Chinese-American oil industry executive called James I.C. Chiang is now planning his own vision of what the pavilion should look like:
“I have secured $100 million in loans for investing in the US pavilion project at the Shanghai World Expo, and already filed an application to the State Department for representing the US at the event,” Chiang said at his Los Angeles residence on Saturday.
Chiang said he is planning to meet Clinton next week in Washington to report on his investment proposal, and is confident he will get presidential authorization to organize the US pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, scheduled to open on May 1, 2010.
Yep. Rather than throwing his weight behind one of the two organizations already working on the project, Chiang has decided to make himself into contestant number three. Assuming the article wasn’t a mistranslation and he’s not actually just here to help, who will he be fighting with for the title of actual U.S. pavilion organizer?
Well, there’s the “official” team headed up by Ellen Eliasoph and Nick Winslow, who incidentally just got a letter of support from Hillary Clinton themselves. This is the group that’s been trying to raise $61 million through private funding, since there’s a U.S. law doesn’t allow the government to put funds towards expos. They’ve gotten one sponsor so far (3M Corp., makers of scotch tape).
And then there’s the grassroots group of “expo veterans” who’ve said the U.S. law excuse is B.S. The only thing stopping the US pavilion from being built then is “control.” “We could move things ahead rapidly with all of the American teams and individuals working together, deploying their varied skills and connections, but the “official” team will not share,” BH&L Group said in a recent email. They added:
Contrary to press accounts, existing U.S. law controls does not prevent the State Department, with Congressional support, from funding Expo activities Nor does it prevent other federal Departments (e.g., Commerce, Energy, etc.), from dedicating resources for this purpose. The Congress can appropriate funds for Expo activities at any time.
1. According to U.S. Public Law, Title 22, Chapter 33, Section 2452b (International Expositions), Sub-Section (a), “[T]he Department of State may not obligate or expend any funds appropriated to the Department of State for a United States pavilion or other major exhibit at any international exposition or world’s fair registered by the Bureau of International Expositions in excess of amounts expressly authorized and appropriated for such purpose.
Meaning: The State Department can expend funds appropriated for Expo activities.
2. Sub-Section (c) states that, “No funds made available to the Department of State by any Federal agency to be used for a United States pavilion or other major exhibit at any international exposition or world’s fair registered by the Bureau of International Expositions may be obligated or expended unless the appropriate congressional committees are notified not less than 15 days prior to such obligation or expenditure.”
Meaning: To spend funds provided to the State Department by another agency, Congressional committees must be notified. No further action is required.
3. Furthermore, in U.S. Public Law, Title 22, Chapter 40, Section 2803 (Federal Participation), Sub-Section (c) [Authorization of Appropriations for Federal Pavilion], the Federal Government is permitted to participate in an international exposition with “the enactment of a specific authorization of appropriations” by Congress based on “a plan prepared by the Secretary of Commerce in cooperation with other interested departments and agencies of the Federal Government for Federal participation in the exposition.”
Conclusion: The contention, often heard and read, that the US Government may not fund Expo activities is unfounded.
We don’t have much of an opinion either way of why or how a U.S. pavilion should be built, but we’re surprised it’s turned into such a weird quagmire of competing and conflicting interests (we thought all the twists and turns would be saved for Cirque Du Soleil’s performance at the Canadian pavilion).
We’re also surprised that anyone would want to throw their lot in so late in the game. Especially someone so random and mysterious. Besides an interview of him from 2006 on Shanghai’s official World Expo site, he’s virtually ungoogleable. His company, Grynberg Petroleum Co., has a similar lack of web presence – and if there’s one thing we don’t trust, it’s ungoogleable people and their unprofessional websites.
Perhaps what we should have started this whole thing off asking: Who the hell James I.C. Chiang anyway?