Malcolm Moore is the Shanghai correspondent for the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. He has been in the city for around 18 months and now writes a new online diary of his (and the rest of the Telegraph staff’s) reporting adventures here. Today he writes about the top seven pieces of juicy gossip he has yet to be able to use… until now.
1. David Beckham is coming to the Shanghai Expo. The sexiest man in football is the number one target for the officials in charge of the Expo, who have been badgering the UK to make sure that he turns up, according to my mole.
The Brits are playing their cards close to their chests and looking to drive a hard bargain. Watch out to see if British companies suddenly get huge tax rebates.
2. Westlife and Coldplay are not coming to the Expo. “Get me those West Side Boys!” one official told a puzzled Expo volunteer. “They have to perform at the Expo concert.” Once everyone worked out that he meant Westlife, a small stumbling block emerged: “We will write them a letter from the government to make sure they come. We can’t pay them, but we can provide one economy class air ticket for each member of the band.”
Calls to the management of Westlife, and then the number two target, Coldplay, went unanswered.
3. Haibao failed the UK’s health & safety inspection. Liverpool, which is twinned with Shanghai, wanted to install a few statues of everyone’s favourite blue Expo mascot back in the UK. However, they had to build their own Haibao after the Chinese-made versions failed the British safety inspection. It wasn’t because of toxic paint – it was because his arms are too spindly and can be snapped off.
4. The Xintiandi skyscrapers will not be finished before the Expo. There are two unfinished skyscrapers at the north end of Xintiandi which were destined to be five-star hotels before the developer ran out of money. The Shanghai government, in order to avoid any pre-Expo embarassment, offered to bail out the project. But the developers have turned down the offer. The wrangling continues…
5. Paul, the French bakery, may not be around forever. Paul had to close its Shanghai Centre location towards the end of the year after finding itself unable to pay its rent. A deal was worked out, but there may be more problems ahead that, ahem, could even end up in court…
And a couple of tidbits from greater China:
6. None of the current standing committee of the Politburo has had plastic surgery, but at least one provincial governor has. Guesses on a postcard.
7. Internet forums and bulletin boards are going to be the next target of the government’s ever-more-serious internet censorship purge. Which one will be first to be blocked?