The US Expo 2010 Pavilion Totters

Late yesterday afternoon Expo 2010 organizers announced that all national pavilion construction work must begin by June 30. Those who miss the deadline will not be allowed to build their own pavilions, and must instead seek space in a “standardized” pavilion or use a common pavilion. The statement didn’t single out any particular country, but the target of this ultimatum is unmistakably the United States which, along with Andorra and Columbia, is the only country with Chinese diplomatic relations that has not confirmed for the Expo – and perhaps the only nation to have missed multiple fundraising and construction deadlines (set by itself, no less).

So how serious is this deadline and the tumult? On May 2, Frank Lavin, the US pavilion steering committee co-chairman, former ambassador to Singapore, and Undersecretary of Commerce, told the SCMP [subscriber only] that “the project [pavilion] was not expected to break ground before the end of the year.” In other words, the US is – officially, charitably – five months behind the ultimatum with no plan to meet it.

So why the delay? According to the same SCMP story, the authorized US pavilion group has only raised $1.5 million of their $61 million budget.

The poor fundraising record only hints at the recent disarray and disagreements that have plagued the inexperienced US effort. In late March, Ellen Eliasoph, an authorized group co-chair, and wife to Ira Kasoff, the former Principle Commercial Officer at the US Consulate in Shanghai and current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asia, told NPR that a loan from the Chinese government to pay for the entire US pavilion was “on the table.” Apparently, this was news to Chinese government officials, who quickly denied it in the state media and – most recently – at a widely attended May 1 press conference. Eliasoph seems to have learned her lesson, and yesterday, in the Washington Post, she claims that the United States “isn’t in the business of accepting Chinese money.” Meanwhile, her co-chair, Frank Lavin, told the SCMP that he was unaware of “any talks” about a loan, period. Perhaps there wasn’t a loan; or, perhaps, the US side wasn’t supposed to talk about it. In either case, it’s never good when the wife of a senior US government official concerned with Asia is repudiated in the state-owned media.

And it’s not the only point of disagreement on fundraising that exists within the authorized group, either. Late last month, in two telephone calls for a story that I published in the Atlantic, co-chair Nick Winslow claimed that the “authorized” group had borrowed money from the Chinese government to pay for the pavilion design and site preparation work after it had run out of money (a story that Winslow has told to others). Then, today, in the same Washington Post story, the authorized group claims, instead, that a “Chinese construction company provided the funds for engineering work.” It’s worth noting that the Expo 2010 organizing committee is a branch of the Chinese government, and it maintains a list of “preferred” service providers, including a large number of state-owned construction firms. Presumably, a private firm isn’t going to extend credit to a US non-profit that’s shown itself incapable of raising money – unless somebody is guaranteeing the loan.

In any case, these are just two examples of the disarray that has alienated at least one potential major donor to the US pavilion effort (I have it on record) – and likely many, many more.

The hope among many Americans that the US pavilion would be financed by Americans is now unlikely to be fulfilled. Yesterday’s announcement of a construction deadline was accompanied by the first (to my knowledge) announcement that the US State Department has authorized the US pavilion group to accept donations from foreign individuals and entities as well as US ones (Beatrice Camp, the US Consul General confirmed this last week for a soon-to-be-published story). What’s the practical effect of this development? Most likely, it guarantees that the US that – if it gets a pavilion at all – will follow the precedent set at Expo 2005, in Aichi, Japan, where the US pavilion was largely underwritten by Toyota. So far, Dell and 3M have signed on as the US pavilion’s only corporate sponsors; it’ll be interesting to see how much longer they’re going to want to be associated with what is quickly becoming a national shame.

[UPDATE: In response to a couple of emails – the authorized group, Shangahi Expo 2010, Inc., declined to answer any questions related to their bid when I contacted them last week. Those questions included a request that they disclose their current donors and creditor – foreign and US-based. Presumably, all of those entities are being screened by the State Department. Likewise, the State Department has refused repeated requests for comment.]

[UPDATE 2: Comment 9, below, in which Ellen Eliasoph is praised as a “patriot” originated from a State Department IP address traceable to the host sherman.state.gov.]

47 thoughts on “The US Expo 2010 Pavilion Totters

  1. Collective and condign contrition amounting to US$61 millions should be no problem at all for that coterie of overpaid US executives who accepted bonuses for failure and bankruptcy; not much more than chump change for them.

    That is, if they are so moved to do so.

  2. Ellen Eliasoph has done more damage to the US pavilion than anyone than the State Department fools who gave her the job in the first place.

  3. As an American, I don’t really see the importance of the US Pavilion being US financed. Granted, I’ve never been to a World Expo (though will check it out in 2010), but it doesn’t seem to me that $61 million for a pavillion is that great of an investment given current economic conditions. Maybe the Expo could be a foray into a brave new world for the US, the world of understatement. Substance over flash. Or if they really want something big and flashy like a 300 foot bald eagle studded in rubies surrounded by a moat of molten gold, I would much rather Hu & Co. pick up the bill.

  4. “Eliasoph seems to have learned her lesson, and yesterday, in the Washington Post, she claims that the United States ‘isn’t in the business of accepting Chinese money.'”

    800 billion in T-bills says that the US is, in fact, in the business of accepting Chinese money. Why get proud now?

  5. No reason for the US to feed the Chinese propaganda machine. Why bother with this at all? A total waste of time and a non-story. Who cares!? With everything else going on in the world right now, $61 million could be put to better use elsewhere.

  6. Hm let’s see … Nepotism, ham-handed lies, and a tarnished US image abroad. Sounds like the a Bush appointee to me!

  7. Thanks for a revealing investigation of the political shenanigans that can plague even such a deserving project as US participation in the Expo. I thought this type of stuff ended with the Bush Administration and its essential contempt for China, on which it was increasingly dependent.

    As to the nay-sayers who don’t see value in a US Pavilion: you’re speaking out of your hats. Pavilions at Expos generate positive ROI in terms of deals made, increased tourism, and general goodwill. There is a concrete cost to be paid in “face” and lost commerce for those who choose to stand apart from the world community of nations.

    Whether such an effort should cost $61 million is more problematic. It depends on what the infrastructure costs and what’s inside (and for this Expo, on the Internet). A $30 million project could be funded more quickly and with some thought and creative use of today’s technology, offer an equal or better experience. Is anyone working on that possibility?

  8. If American companies don’t want a pavilion, that’s that. No national shame involved. The so-called “shame” is the fantasy of those who want a piece of the $61 million price tag. Only vested interests care about this, but they happen to have the extortionate state media behind them to help them fabricate a “fiasco.” All rubbish. Personally, I am happy if the American companies keep their money. The expo is another rubbish excuse to dump money into municipal infrastructure and attempt to create another “China’s moment.” The Olympics were much more “about China” than about any kind of Olympian ideals. So throw yourselves another nationalistic orgy. Hooray, China!

  9. Ellen Eliasoph is a true patriot. I hope she is successful to the U.S. will have a great pavilion.

  10. IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS: The above comment from ‘Shanghiago’ traces to a State Department IP address at the host sherman.state.gov.

    Two observations on the comment.

    1. The State Department has so far failed to answer the questions that I submitted to it in connection with a forthcoming story. Yet, it seems, somebody over there has time to post un-grammatical comments to my blog. Is this a sign that I will soon be receiving a reply to my questions concerning the murky origins of the Shanghai Expo 2010 authorization, and the legality of their fundraising practices?

    2. It would be nice to think that those Americans who pass the Foreign Service Exam would be capable of writing a complete, grammatical sentence. Alas, Shanghiago suggests otherwise.

  11. Far be it from me to tell you how to do your job but I think that IP address is the best lead that anyone trying to figure out Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc could hope for.

  12. I hope US will make it. There will be hundreds of millions people going to see the world expo, it’s going to be very embrassing if US is a no show. Even Tajikistan is going.

  13. I am a State Department employee and the author of comment #5. I just want to let it be known that not all State Department employees are monolithic cheerleaders for US participation in this Chinese propaganda show. And By the way Adam, some of us are even literate.

  14. So many rich people in US, nobody has 61 million USD?

    The 20 Richest Americans

    1. William Gates III
    2. Warren Buffett
    3. Lawrence Ellison
    4. Jim Walton
    5. S Robson Walton
    6. Alice Walton
    7. Christy Walton & Family
    8. Michael Bloomberg
    9. Charles Koch
    10. David Koch
    11. Michael Dell
    12. Paul Allen
    13. Sergey Brin
    14. Larry Page
    15. Sheldon Adelson
    16. Steven Ballmer
    17. Abigail Johnson
    18. Jack Taylor & Family
    19. Anne Cox Chambers
    20. Donald Bren (12 billion)
    The question is who cares about the US pavilion?
    Where is the ‘patriot’?

    Anyway the plans of the pavilion has done. You can find the whole story of the US pavilion is on http://www.expo2010china.hu

  15. The US didn’t make it to the Expo 2008 at Zaragoza, Spain. So I doubt that the US cares about the 2010 expo either.

  16. @#14:

    “Anyway the plans of the pavilion has (sic) done. You can find the whole story of the US pavilion is on http://www.expo2010china.hu

    Follow the link and you will find that, no, the plans of the pavilion have not been “done” and nothing in the article supports such a notion. Adam’s writings in this forum remain the most complete and detailed public review of this fiasco. No plans, no money, no organized will doesn’t seem like a good beginning.

    To those who have difficulty understanding all this, the US just can’t shake down the twenty wealthiest Americans for US$61 millions. We don’t do things that way. And some of us do not think a US pavilion is an act of patriotism, yet another cultural difference for you to chew on.

  17. Interesting thread. Re #14, there already is a patriotic American, Mr. James Chiang, who has reportedly offered to fully fund a US presence at the Expo. His plans do not mesh with the “official” plans, however, and his offer seems to have been rejected. I wonder when those managing this process will finally decide to give up this quixotic quest.

  18. Put me in the same boat as #17, more or less. There’s nothing patriotic about spending $61 million on something that no one in the U.S. cares about. And that’s even assuming that “patriotic” is a positive quality; patriotism has led to some pretty horrific outcomes occasionally.

    And I hope calling it a “national shame” is an act of histrionics. There’s nothing shameful happening at all. Quite the opposite: I feel great pride that the government has finally found something it doesn’t want to fleece its taxpayers for. Now if only they could manage to snip out some of the other $1 trillion in the budget…

  19. Does having money means you must waste it on a Chinese propaganda machine ? That may be true for a Chinese, but not for anyone else. But that is 1/5 the population of the world, and therefore a majority in the Chinese eyes.

  20. #9 actually reads more like something my high school students in Chengdu, Sichuan would have handed in. Maybe they have hacked into State’s computers…

  21. Alex (#21) – Fair question. Short answer: no.

    Long answer: WordPress, the blog software that I use, records and displays the incoming IP address of comments left here (I might be wrong but I think that this is fairly universal feature in blog software). The only time that I pay attention to IPs is when a comment is vulgar, threatening or – in the case of the State Department comment – suspicious in some way that catches my eye (in that case: broken English declaring an obscure American lawyer to be a “true patriot”). Then I’ll ‘trace’ it by inputting the address into the ARIN database or whatismyipaddress.com (it really is that easy). All in all, though, life is just too short to spend my time worrying about the location of readers kind enough to share their thoughts here.

  22. I’m laughing out loud at the Chinese guy who lists “20 Richest Americans” and wants to know which one will write a check for $61 million. It reminds me of the Chinese folks who listed Chinese celebrities and companies last year and how much each donated to Sichuan earthquake relief. Many had to readjust their benevolence balance after being singled out by the frenzied Chinese media.
    Americans don’t play that game, as Shanghai is about to find out. By the way; USA skipped the 2000 World’s Fair in Germany as well, which was supposed to only cost a mere $40 million.

  23. Realistically, if this thread is to go anywhere productive, we should be clear that a viable pavilion can be produced for $25M to $30M. And, while some folks may not see the value in that, the truth is that the world is looking for US participation in a global forum because it is looking at the US for leadership — not for us to be holed up on our shores — we’ve been responsible for a fair amount of the world’s current economic woes — we have a responsibility to participate in a dialogue to get the world, us included, back on its feet. If the world is going to figure out one-planet prosperity while averting catastrophe, to some very serious extent, we Americans will need to invent our own version of a bright green way of life which first lifts everyone out of poverty. The investment in the Expo will return dividends multi-fold.

  24. Furthermore, this transition must be led by America because we consume the largest share of the world’s energy and natural resources. The change must take place first in our urban communities. This is where the new jobs will be found. It’s not just a matter of saving the Earth, it’s a matter of creating an economy that works for all – a fundamental change in policies that will impact global standards of living. IMO, this is another important opportunity for the USA and the Obama Administration to demonstrate leadership.

  25. While it may be hip to be snarky about such things as Expos — which virtually none of the commentators posting here have attended, it’s clear — please remember, they’re the only occasions on the planet when the nations of the world get together under peaceful circumstances. In that sense, they are a demonstration of what’s possible on a larger scale if people really cared enough. I guess it’s easier to poke fun at something you know nothing about, especially if you bear no responsibility for its happening or its outcome. When 200 nations, the UN, and 40 other NGOs find an event worth supporting, there must be a reason besides aggrandizement.

    As for the Expos the US has missed or blown — Seville 1992, Lisbon 1998, Hanover 2000 (the EU’s coming out party, our absence was very badly taken throughout Europe), Aichi 2005 (when Japan paid for the US pavilion, producing a caricature), and Zaragoza 2008 (dedicated to water policy) — it’s not as if the US did so at no cost. There was plenty of cost in trade deals not consummated, tourists not drawn to the states and localities, cultural prestige, and political damage leading to US isolation during global crises — plus, for Americans, further removal from the rest of the people of the world. Americans’ global awareness already is stunted, a condition that will not be cured merely by sending small armies around the world in pursuit of futile conquests. Participating in world events like the Expo offer a rare opportunity to expand Americans’ consciousness beyond their borders. Will we also skip Yeosu, Korea 2012 (preserving the oceans), Milan 2015 (global health and food adequacy), and the giant Wherever 2020 which many Americans reportedly would like to be held in the USA?

    Each succeeding Expo has been less about blowing nationalistic horns and more about addressing global issues, even if the pavilions remain somewhat silly. This Expo’s theme is urban quality of life and global sustainability. It happens right after December’s Copenhagen Climate Change conference and can keep the world population’s eyes focused on big problems whose solutions will transcend nationalistic impulses.

    Lastly, per Comment 26 above, if the cost of doing a pavilion is only $30 million — the cost of an urban parking lot in a big American city — what’s all the squawking about? From Adam’s report, it sounds like just a few people in Shanghai are holding up the works. Get rid of the struggling Bush pavilion team, install a competent new Obama pavilion team, have the US government cough up $10 million (an hour’s expense in Iraq), sign up companies and states for $20 million, and get moving already. The Expo ROI is spectacular: the US pavilion could reach 70 million Chinese in person and a couple billion people all around the world via the Online Expo on the Internet. You can’t even make a feature film for $30 million.

    Who’s in charge here, anyway? The private “Shanghai Expo 2010″? The State Department? The US Consulate in Shanghai? How about the American people? Has anyone asked them? One can assume they’d get behind this in an instant. Americans are like that. They want to be part of the world community, not as belligerents but as collaborators.

  26. Wow! Quite a revealing report, Adam, which I read earlier. Thanks to those who bade me revisit to observe the animated public discussion about US participation in the Shanghai Expo. How rare!

  27. For two well-done Expo videos on YouTube, click on
    Shanghai 2010 World Expo Official Preview and Shanghai 2010 World Expo “Online Expo” Preview. Both are five-star rated.

    To learn about an alternative US National Pavilion proposal, one that’s economical, efficient, state of the art, recyclable, and that features a full-blown Online Expo, visit the BH&L Group website and the BH&L Group Facebook Page. The BH&L Group is a nonprofit association of world-class Expo veterans, named for co-founders Barry Howard and Leonard Levitan, that’s responsible for 40 pavilions at past Expos. None got rich doing this, but they sure won a lot of awards. I’m proud to be associated with BH&L Group.

    The best website EVER about Expos, The Expo Museum, is run by San Francisco designer and Expo maven Urso Chappell. On The Expo Museum, which is really well designed, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Expos past, present, and future including the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, the biggest, most important to date.

    The official Shanghai 2010 World Expo website has improved with time and today offers a rich collection of Expo-related materials as well as current reports, news for participants, and loads of pictures and videos.

  28. I can only wonder how many read with understanding previous comments before posting their own opinions.

    “Ask the American people”. From the majority concerned enough to comment here it is obvious that a pavilion is not wanted, is an expense inappropriate to the present economy (US$30 millions, or US$60 millions or more isn’t worth squawking about?), and does not serve the US best interests.

    “(T)he truth is that the world is looking for US participation in a global forum because it is looking at the US for leadership”. Chinese wants the US to participate because it looks to the US for leadership? Denmark, for example, needs US attendance at the Expo for leadership? Are you serious?

    “Who’s in charge here, anyway?” Isn’t it obvious from Minter’s writing that no one is in charge?

    “Each succeeding Expo has been less about blowing nationalistic horns and more about addressing global issues, even if the pavilions remain somewhat silly.” You’ve confused the theme – popular to the times – with the effect as witness the massive Chinese pavilions and the venue.

    It is clear that some few commenting here believe US participation is a green event of great importance, perhaps to the extent of helping the “world…figure out one-planet prosperity while averting catastrophe”, but with or without the US I doubt the Shanghai Expo will reach such a conclusion.

  29. So, is it correct to assume, as Scott suggests in #31 (“It is clear that some few commenting here believe US participation is a green event of great importance, perhaps to the extent of helping the “world…figure out one-planet prosperity while averting catastrophe”, but with or without the US I doubt the Shanghai Expo will reach such a conclusion.”) that the US should NOT be there? That would be a true shame.

  30. For the record, I attended the 1974 World Expo in Spokane, Washington. I only remember the Soviet Union pavilion from that one. I’m a US citizen and still believe most Americans don’t care about not having a $61 million pavilion in Shanghai just like they completely dismissed the 2000 World Expo in Hannover, which was not even popular in Europe.

  31. Whether or not the US will attend the Shanghai Expo rests on (and I repeat myself) plans, money, and organized will, none of which has come forward. The US Congress does not subsidize US participation at World Expos (let me put it simply – money must be raised from sources other than the US Treasury and tax payers), no plans have been drawn, and there is no single, defined organization now acting in the interests of the US to break ground before the June 30 deadline.

    Now, I seriously doubt that the subject of US participation in the Shanghai Expo occupies dinner conversation in the US no matter how fervently some few believe this “green event” is essential to the future of our planet. China? They’re pissed because it looks like yet another calculated snub to their “peaceful rise” and not because they need US leadership, surely not because the US pavilion would be a commitment to saving the planet.

  32. I daily witness direct benefits of the World Expo in Shanghai: the city is getting spruced up with faux brickwork and new paint on building facades, more parks, both banks of the Suzhou river (not long ago popularly known as a “stinking gutter) in Puxi district reworked with pedestrian walkways and plantings, improvements in the roadways and general infrastructure, and the major site erased a number of old, polluting factories.

    This city is lookin’ good. Yes, I’m grateful for the Shanghai World Expo.

  33. Well, Scott, what’s your suggestion? Just keep on keeping on, because we are the USA, we don’t care about the Expo or sustainability or world community, and we don’t need to care? That’s awfully cynical.

    I don’t believe that a dozen respondents on a blog adequately represent the American people’s opinion on anything. First get out the word, then see what people think. Our experience is that there is willingness among grassroots interests in the U.S. to be at the Expo which, however, has not been mentioned (before this week) in a single mainstream U.S. newspaper.

    By the way, you’re wrong on the law. The US Congress does appropriate funding for US pavilions per a 1991 law that further states the Commerce Secretary is responsible for organizing US Government activity at international expositions.

    Lastly, your negativity regarding “plans, money, and organized will, none of which have come forward,” ignores two years of work by a number of Americans — not including those whom Adam properly critiques — who have set the stage for a resurgence at the 11th hour. You haven’t visited the pages I specified, I can see. If you want a serious conversation about viable alternatives, you have to become better informed and reduce the volume of stentorian, unfounded negative pronouncements. Just drop me an email, anytime, to learn more.

  34. A tangible factor contributing to the failure of U.S. policy to properly address the Expo, rather than vague aspersions to public opinion, is the absence in the State Department of an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy to provide senior oversight in DC and the absence of a US Ambassador in Beijing to do the same in China. These vacuums of leadership compel lower-level public servants, in DC and in the field, to improvise, with results deplored in these Comments: no clear Expo strategy, no public funding, an overly expensive pavilion concept, an inability to connect with people back home to promote the US presence or garner sponsors, and so forth. Also, our Commerce Secretary was only confirmed three weeks ago and now has a lot of ground to cover to catch up. Such are the vagaries of American democracy. Things will get fixed.

  35. The U.S. will not “lose face” by not having a pavilion at the 2010 Expo. Given the apparently strong desire to see the U.S. participate in the Expo, the U.S. brand has survived much larger recent losses of face: the financial meltdown, being mired in Iraq, and Afghanistan going sideways. Not being able to find $61 million in private investment to fund the pavilion does not rate as a loss of face compared to those other issues. And at the end of the day, China and the U.S. need each other after the Expo just as much as they did before.

  36. “Just keep on keeping on, because we are the USA, we don’t care about the Expo or sustainability or world community, and we don’t need to care?” Your comment and interpretation, not mine. Bob Jackson, that I do not share your opinion is not unfounded, it is not negativity or cynicism that prompts my comments, and it’s rude of you to suggest so. You imply that most people in the US don’t care about participation because they just don’t know; I suggest you ask them to pony up the money and see their collective response, not much different from what is represented here I’ll bet and that is one of my points. It’s not ignorance, it’s indifference at worst and disinclination to spend money on a fair at best, surely you can understand that?

    The Commerce Secretary may be “responsible for organizing US Government activity at international expositions” but again, where’s the money? My understanding is as I recounted, that the US Congress does not appropriate tax payer funding for US attendance at World Expos.

    I doubt that “two years of work by a number of Americans… have set the stage for a resurgence at the 11th hour” but with the eleventh hour now upon us it would be the time for all to get their asses in gear, yeah?

    As to your “serious conversation about viable alternatives” I suggest you spend your time with that “number of Americans who have set the stage for an eleventh hour resurgence”, etc.

    As to your tone, no, I decline your invitation to go skinny-dipping in the hogwaste lagoon.

  37. I won’t be repeating myself, but quickly:

    1. Serious China experts — much more experienced and competent than me — have said that failure to participate in the Expo could result in the U.S. losing “face,” with consequences that imperil other US-China relationships. Consider the recent Chinese proposal to use IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as an alternative to the dollar for a reserve currency: that’s how inherently strong our relationships are. Not very when the scales are so totally imbalanced. It’s worth the risk to save a meager $30 million?

    2. When news of BH&L Group’s efforts became public knowledge through our website and Facebook Page (launched earlier this year), we did in fact get many offers via email from grassroots Americans to send $10, $25, $50, and $100 if it would ensure an American pavilion in Shanghai.

    3. To update Scott and others’ knowledge about federal funding of Expos, here’s the law verbatim and its meanings:

    The Law Governing US Government Funding for and Participation in Expo Activities

    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. 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 heard, read, and misleadingly repeated, that the US Government may not fund Expo activities, is unfounded. The Commerce Secretary has authority to lead and manage planning for US participation in Expos.

    4. My tone is reasonable. Hardly “hogwaste lagoon.” I believe it’s permissible and essential in an important public conversation to call out declarations about “the truth” that mask lack of knowledge and first-hand experience. I appreciate the suggestions for how to spend my time. In fact, I spend my time (pro bono) precisely with that “number of Americans who are setting the stage” to ensure that there is a US presence in Shanghai next year. I’ve done so since January 2007, when this mixed up process began and we weren’t so rushed, before the Bush Administration chewed up two years vainly enforcing a failed funding policy. I guess I know the 11th hour when I see it.

    This conversation isn’t about Scott and me, however, but about the US and its presence at the Expo — a topic to which we should return. ?? !

  38. Stop this madness. The U.S does not need nor want a Pavilion. Have we learned nothing from a free market society? The market has spoken and the market doesn’t want one. If they did people would step and pay for the thing. They haven’t because they don’t want it.

    This American will not be donating a dime to the U.S pavilion.

  39. Is there any evidence that expos are worthwhile in terms of public diplomacy or the promotion of commerce?

    Bob Jacobson, do you have some vested self-interest in the Expo. You certainly seem passionate about this.

    I personally don’t care at all and will be very happy if the Shanghai construction companies, etc are deprived of the $61 million. Build schools and housing, not monuments to panda licking.

  40. Mr. Jackson, could you please clarify whether you are suggesting that the lack of a U.S. pavilion has in someway influenced the Chinese government’s statement propounding using SDRs as a reserve currency?

  41. Last three questions require responses, otherwise I’d like to take a break and let events take their own turn. Here’s my coda of replies, in reverse order.

    First, per #42, my self-interest is as an American who would like to see his nation play a central role in history’s largest peaceful gathering of nations. We’ve gotten a pretty bad reputation these last eight years. The Expo is one of a number of initiatives that will help us to recoup our reputation. Also, the US pavilion (the one I have in mind, not the one for which funding cannot be found) would be a sterling platform for American commercial and public solutions for sustainability problems. We would all benefit from this investment.

    Per #43, I did not suggest that the lack of a US pavilion resulted in the SDR proposal. The SDR proposal is a separate matter. I used it to illustrate that contrary to the claims of some that nothing will ever disturb US-China relations, in fact they are already challenged. Perceived insults (on each side) would only make things more difficult.

    As for #41, “the free market society has spoken” — what society might that be? That species is extinct.

  42. The US needs a World Expo pavilion to showcase what? Our movies, our music, our food, our clothes? Baseball, basketball? Skateboarding? BMX?

    The expo committee is a cowardly bunch of panda lickers who will use most of the funds to 1. make new friends with Shanghai and Beijing officials and 2. line their own pockets. Most of the expat community are used car, snake oil and door to door salesman at best. World expos are outdated anyway in a world of global bbs’, international flights, skype, chat, etc.

  43. I read all the comments. I think you should wake up in the US. The world is change. Your great nation have to make a big PR. So lets see.

    1. The US economy nowadays is seriously depand on the Chinese Government. If the chinese do not prefer the USD and change to EURO, the US economy crash down.
    eg. Chinese money save Bank of America?
    Bank of America (BofA) could soon sell shares in China’s second-largest bank as part of a move that could likely fetch about a quarter of the US$34 billion in additional capital it is reported to need after a US government stress test.

    BofA is allowed to sell 13.5 billion shares in China Construction Bank (CCB) – a 6 percent stake worth around US$8.3 billion – when a lock-up period ends today.

    CCB Shares fell as much as 4.4 percent in early trading yesterday in Hong Kong due to fears of a possible BofA stake sale and ended at HKUS$4.75, down 0.42 percent.

    BofA had reportedly been preparing for an immediate share sale as soon as the lockup period expired.

    An official at CCB’s public relations office said the bank hadn’t received any notice regarding the US bank’s plan to sell part of its holdings. “Share sale following the expiration of a lockup period is a normal act by strategic investors. The long-term strategic cooperation between the two banks will not change,” said the CCB official.

    BofA had said it intends to remain a long-term and strategic shareholder of CCB, the Financial Times reported.

    Western financial institutions have been selling their stakes in Chinese banks to replenish capital that dried up following the global credit crisis. BofA has been one of the hardest hit banks in the US. The bank has already raised US$2.8 billion selling CCB shares at a 12 percent discount in January.

    Allianz SE and American Express sold a combined US$1.9 billion of shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China at a 4 percent discount last week. Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS both sold their entire stakes in Bank of China in January.

    However, the decision by foreign strategic investors to sell or hold their stakes mostly depends on their own performance, analysts said.

    Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank that posted a 12.9 percent 2009 first quarter net profit growth, agreed in March to keep 80 percent of its almost 16.5 billion shares in ICBC for at least another year.

    CCB’s Hong Kong listed H-shares have gained 11.5 percent this year. The bank said in April that its 2009 first quarter net profit fell 18.3 percent from a year earlier as narrowing interest margins hurt profitability.

    (China Daily May 7, 2009)

    2. #25 What game play America? Iraq or other games? You mean for the OIL?

    3. I think US don’t care nothing about the Expo or sustainability or world community.

    Sustainability and renewable energy sources?????: Why sould care about these stupid things if US fighting for the OIL. Money money money …

    4. #42 Money is only one part of the fairytale.

    5. #45 ‘The US needs a World Expo pavilion to showcase what? Our movies, our music, our food, our clothes? Baseball, basketball? Skateboarding? BMX?’

    I hope US is not only like these things and people of USA could see far as their television and Big Mac.

    6. And so on…

  44. And on that last, irrational nationalist note, I’m going to close this comment thread. All in all, it’s been a good discussion. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts.

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