US Expo 2010 Pavilion, Inc: Here Comes the Cover-up!

Yesterday Shanghai Scrap reported that Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc., the group authorized by the US State Deparment to fund, design, and build a US pavilion for Expo 2010, had issued a press release claiming – falsely – that the US Congress had adopted a resolution in support of their efforts. The key quote in the undated release – “We are grateful that the US Congress has adopted this resolution …” – was made by Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc. co-chair Frank Lavin – who also served as an ambassador to Singapore and an Undersecretary of Commerce in the most recent Bush Administration. Lavin couldn’t have been more wrong: not only has the resolution not been adopted by Congress, it has only three co-sponsors, hasn’t left committee, and was introduced by impeached former federal judge Alcee Hastings. In other words: Congress is not supporting Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc. Not even close.

In any case, overnight (in Shanghai), the press release mysteriously disappeared from the official Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc. website – without any explanation or apology (to Congress). No doubt, Lavin and his colleagues are hoping that the matter will be forgotten. But fear not, dear readers: while preparing yesterday’s post, I made a screen capture of Ambassador/Undersecretary Lavin’s false claims of Congressional support, and – for posterity’s sake – I am posting them below (click for an enlargement):


Unfortunately, this is hardly an isolated incident. Over the last several months, several other members of Shanghai Expo 2010 Inc have made similarly misleading statements to bolster their effort, and then backtracked when those statements were either disproven or no longer in their interests (for the most notable example, see the fourth paragraph of this recent blog post). And, as I’ve noted before, it is precisely this pattern – this duplicitous pattern – that has so damaged the pavilion’s prospects among Shanghai expats and businesses.

[Personal Addendum: A promise to my readers: never again will you confront three Expo-related posts in a row.]


  1. Adam, I don’t think this is going to make much of a difference at this point. But on the bright side you must take consolation in the knowledge that the former ambassador to Singapore is reading your blog on a regular basis. 😀

  2. This is much more serious than you seem to think. A former ambassador and undersecretary of Commerce running an important “soft power” initiative in China SHOULD NOT be lying about the will of Congress. This is beyond the pale. Have you called the State Department for comment? Has the Shanghai Consul General had anything to say about this? You should not let this go so easy like a joke. It is more serious than that.

  3. State should absolutely ask Lavin to resign over this if he doesn’t have the decency to do it himself, first. Awful.

  4. Never again three Expo-related posts in a row? Aw shucks, Adam, don’t take the ball away. We’re just havin’ fun with these slicks from government who think we’re yokels not knowing any better and can’t tell shit from Shinola.

  5. What I’d like to know is where is Consul General Bea Camp????? People in Shanghai have been telling her for months that this group is no good and she just smiles that smile and lets it go. No comment on this too?????

  6. The big question then becomes, what happens on June 30, 10 days away? We haven’t exactly put our best foot forward since the beginning of this sad story.

  7. Like many peopl ein Shanghai I could care less about the pavilion. But I’m surprised to hear that Lavin has been caught lying. I was under the impression that he was the adult in this operation and the other two cochairs were the problem. Probably State will continue to back these bozos for lack of any immediate alternative.

  8. re. #6

    The June 30 deadline has been dropped, as confirmed by Expo exec. committee deputy chairwoman Zhong Yanqun today. The US wasn’t the only country that wasn’t going to make it (the US actually told me they didn’t think it applied to them, anyway) as at least a dozen other pavilions have yet to break ground. Expo now just “hope” they can all get started sometime in July and they don’t care about the US anymore so long as they’re ready in time for the opening.

    That’s the public line, anyway. Privately they’re seething about the massive loss of face this is.

  9. #8: You presume Expo exec. committee deputy chairwoman Zhong Yanqun has privately “lost face”? That definitely sounds like a good reason for the US to throw away $60 million!

  10. Over the weekend I saw some Am Cham people who are really pissed at you Adam. They say Lavin was mis-quoted.

  11. Sh Guy, are you trying to suggest he was mis-quoted in HIS OWN PRESS RELEASE? Standard practice, as far as I’m aware, is for the client to sign off on a press release before it gets sent round all the media outlets in town and beyond. The whole slant of the press release is based on the misleading nature of that quote — it’s hard to conceive of a way that could have happened by accident.

    If you’re in any doubt about just how inaccurate that press release was, it’s worth noting this resolution sits near the bottom of a list of 62 house resolutions currently on the foreign affairs committee’s books. That isn’t including dozens of other pieces of legislation they are due to consider and discuss. To quote “The majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee.”

  12. Sh Guy – I don’t think that I could respond any better than uilleam on this point. The only thing that I would add is that – if Lavin really is claiming that he’s being mis-quoted – it wouldn’t be the first time that a member of his organization has backed off a public statement repudiated elsewhere.

  13. Are the “some Am Cham people” so pissed that they are moved to fund US participation in the Expo? Or continue lounging on the sidelines confident that government (which government, the US or China, isn’t clear) will find a way to pave the way to the pavillion with gold?

  14. Scott – Fear not! Am Cham has finally decided to do something: last week they issued a position paper, “”The USA Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai – A business case for sponsorship.” That’s right – they decided to make the formal case for the pavilion less than 10 months from the opening ceremony. That would be bad enough, but couple this with the fact that Am Cham leadership, in coordination with the US Consulate, went out of their way to squash an alternative, grassroots pavilion effort by US companies in Shanghai, back in the Spring, and you have a new chapter in the ongoing chronicle of US Expo 2010 pavilion incompetence.

  15. And the main authors of that chronicle of incompetence seem to be government slicks.

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