Nothing Will Get in the Way of the Greatest Show on Earth

The Telegraph looks at the elaborate preparations for the Shanghai World Expo:

In the West, these world’s fairs have lost their lustre, held in the decidedly dowdy surroundings of Spokane or Hanover. No one is quite sure what they are for.

But China has allocated the event a budget of just under £40 billion, almost twice what it spent on the Beijing Olympics. And the normally restrained Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, has described the Shanghai Expo as the culmination of a 100‑year‑long march of history. “It has a huge influence on mankind,” says Wen, with a touch of hyperbole.

If the Great Exhibition was the moment that Britain showed off its power, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, then China hopes the Shanghai Expo is its time to shine. Every country wishing to do business here in the future is obliged to attend, meaning that more than 240 nations have spent hundreds of millions of pounds building pavilions. Macau has constructed a giant silver rabbit, Japan has a “Purple Silkworm Island”, a lilac dome filled with robots, and Britain has created a fuzzy cube, spiked with thousands of floating fibre-optic cables.

Behind the scenes, diplomats and businessmen are hoping to court China’s rich investors. The delegation from Liverpool is keen to find the money to erect one of Britain’s tallest skyscrapers, the Shanghai Tower, on the city’s docks.

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