Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chinese funding freed Burma to participate in Shanghai Expo

By Kong Janoi/ Shanghai

The Chinese government has subsidized the pavilions of developing countries to join the 184 Shanghai Expo.

The funding for the otherwise excluded countries comes as the expo also promises to give foreign nations and companies a chance to further develop business partnerships with China and Chinese companies.

A representative of Bangladesh Pavilion, Mohammad Abdul Halim, said they came to the expo through the expo committee arrangement.

“We did not even invest a single penny on this expo. We even get a salary from the expo committee,” he said. “We get a small building here but it is fine for us.”

According to Shanghai Expo official website the Chinese government spent US $58 billion on the Expo and related infrastructures in Shanghai.

Burma, which shares a border with China and tight economic connections, was invited to the expo this year. It is the first time isolated nations, such as Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Iran, are participating in a world expo.

With the theme of the Shanghai Expo being, “A Better City, A Better Life”, these isolated nations, such as Burma, increase exposure for their culture’s heritage and relation to the economy of China.

These countries’ pavilions have not been popular amongst visitors due to the little amount invested on the pavilions and exhibitions. However some people are still coming to see these pavilions because they have had no lines in which to queue as compared to the more popular pavilions where visitors have had to wait several hours.

Inside the Burmese pavilion, a Hong Kong Tourist, Yuen man-yuk reported, “I felt strange when I saw those countries showing tourist-like attractions in the World Expo because I expected to see such hi-tech exhibitions in the Expo and other fascinating new inventions.”

The Burmese pavilion, which is part of the Joint Asia Group III, shares it’s building with Laos. The Burmese theme, entitled “Better Urbanization with Harmonized Eco-System”, is designed like a Mandalay palace inside, and features a hanging picture of Shwedagon pagoda as the background. In the pavilion local customs and culture are introduced. Additionally the pavilion hosts the sales of diamonds and other Burmese products.

However there are no Burmese staff present in the pavilion, compared to other countries have their own staffs to represent their country. Visitors have reported that due to the building’s size and little visual development, the “Better Urbanization with Harmonized Eco-System” takes five minutes visit.

The offer by China to fund Burma’s pavilion is telling, Nyo Ohn Myint, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the National League for Democracy Librated Area (NLDLA), believes. Nyo Ohn Myint says that China wants to influence those countries in term of economy and politics.

“China has a lot of border trade [between the] Burmese and Chinese government,” notes Myint. “They want Burmese government to be more efficient and independent economically within the Chinese scope, So they can grow a Chinese economic empire. That is why the Burma [is] invited [to] the Expo.”

Xinhua, a Chinese government controlled news agency, said that China and Burma will sign a series of agreements to boost existing bilateral trade, which reached US $264 million this year.

Burma has faced economic sanctions form the United States and other western countries since 1990 when the ruling military junta refused to acknowledge the results of national election that overwhelmingly elected the opposing party, the National League for Democracy, led by noble laureate Aung San Su Kyi.

Since, the question of sanctions has been increasingly divided, as 20 years later the Burmese military regime remains in power and the Burmese economy remains stagnant.

Myint added, “The Burmese government exports only raw material like timber and some kinds of natural resources. China wants Burma to be more open minded to deal with the world because the sanctions are part of the problem in that Burma cannot co-exist the international economic sector. But that [also makes] China [the] only door for Burmese government to deal with international communities.”

For some visitors that attend the Burmese pavilion at the world expo, the Chinese effort to support Burma’s fledgling pavilion, is an opportunity for awareness. A United States tourist, Matt Maar, said the China effort inviting isolated countries to the Expo is a sign of a new step to solve their problems.

“It is good because isolation is not going to solve the problem. They should be given a chance see and realize [what] benefit there is to open their countries. I think the move by China is on right track.”

Shanghai World Expo: A Better Life?

Sunday, 06 June 2010 14:04 Banyar Kong Janoi

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Download The Chinese government has spent nearly 60 Billion US dollars on it’s World Expo in Shanghai.

It’s on for 184 days and China is using it to show off its remarkable economic growth.

The expo also promises to give foreign nations and companies a chance to further develop business partnerships with China and Chinese companies.

Banyar Kong Janoi is at the Expo for Asia Calling.

Thousands of people are crowded in front of the gate.

Security guards are checking every person. Water and liquid are not allowed in. Notebook computers are scanned.

More than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations have registered to make this the largest ever World Expo.

China expects almost 100 foreign leaders and millions of people from across the world to come and see the show.

Already there are long queues to get inside the pavilions.

It can take hours to get into popular ones from Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Inside these pavilions, visitors experience the current and future urban life of the country by way of images and videos projected onto screens along the corridors.

Environmental protection is a common theme.

Hi-tech wind power and solar energy models are being promoted. Riding bicycles instead of driving cars is encouraged.

Sailee from Hong Kong has come here to explore new innovation.

“Learn the culture of other countries and also hi-tech. But also some kind of Chinese people and other foreigners”

The African live show is amusing many vistors.

Three black singers in full song interact with the audience.

Many developing countries are taking part in this year’s expo.

Mohammad Abdul Halim is a Bangladesh Pavilion representative.

“We have gained experience visiting different pavilions that how development their economy, history, culture, and even manufacture capacity. Then We can compare with our capacity. We have an opportunity to do how to develop farther in the capacity of Bangladesh so this is the best forum.”

He said the Expo is a symbol of China’s global influence.

“I think it is one of the greatest opportunity for China to show case this power because you know. China is fast forward country. It is going to dominate the world in term of economy. You know China is the pick of economic development: resource mobilization is highest pick so China is showing how powerful the country is economically, technologically, culture heritage all the things."

Halim see China as a role model for Bangladesh and another developing countries.

“Because of China develop in the fastest rate. They are using their resources in the greater way. They are very much environment conscious also. So Bangladesh as a developing country should fellow China on their development activities.”

The Expos theme song ‘a better city a better life’ can be hear throughout the park.

Shanghai resident Li Ping is happy with the rapid development taking place in her city.

“The situation now is far much better than before and definitely this slogan “better city better life” will be realized in the future since the world exposition brings with it advanced knowledge from the developed countries which will facilitate the realization of this version.”

But for some people the Expo has made their life harder.

Over ten thousands families were relocated to other areas to build the Expo.

Even though many of them received compensation, they are still struggling to find somewhere to live due to the soaring property prices.

Standing out side the Expo gates 70 year old, Xie Jing-hu says he has not seen change for the better.

He is a factory worker who rents a small flat with his wife.

“World exposition is organized by the government who takes responsibility for our ordinary people. We expect an improvement of life. It is every one’s wish but now we face housing problem that we wish to be resolved. It seems to us that the government begins paying attention to this problem gradually; however we understand that this problem can only be solved slowly.”