Saturday, June 05, 2010

Shanghai Expo

I'm passing through Shanghai soon and I hope to see the Expo. Anyone have logistical tips or recommendations? Which country pavilions are most interesting?

I love modern architecture, although I'm not sure what to make of the UK pavilion pictured below.

This is the China pavilion:

The Little Mermaid on loan to the Danish pavilion:

More here. NYTimes slideshow. WSJ slideshow.


Albert said...

Did the designer of the China pavilion go to UCSD?

Yan Shen said...

Whoever designed the China pavilion, I hope the relevant authorities treat him/her better than they did renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, the person behind the design of the "Bird's Nest" at the Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, Ai Weiwei ran afoul of Chinese officials when he persistently reported on the shoddy construction of the buildings involved in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2009, he was beaten by police officials in Chengdu while attempting to testify on behalf of Tan Zuoren, a fellow activist who also investigated the circumstances which exacerbated the extent of the damage inflicted by the Sichuan earthquake. The beating that Ai Weiwei took was severe enough that he had to undergo emergency brain surgery in order to stop the internal bleeding, though he seems to have made a recovery since then. In any case, it's extremely alarming to see officials cracking down on decent human beings in such a barbaric fashion.

I ask the following question. Is there any other civilized nation that has virtually zero regard for rule of law? I can't think of any other civilized North American, European, or East Asian nation that exhibits such a blatant disregard for so foundational a principle. Is this problem unique to China, or is it more characteristic of developing nations as a whole? For a nation that has such tremendous aspirations, it's rather disheartening to see how in certain respects China remains incredibly backwards. You find a similar disregard for rule of law in some of the despotic regimes of Africa.

One positive point to focus on here is that even democratic nations such as South Korea and Taiwan were ruled by authoritarian regimes which suppressed dissent, until as recently as the mid 1980s when they finally reached a certain level of socioeconomic development and eventually democratized. Francis Fukuyama seems to believe that once China eventually reaches a certain level of socioeconomic development, it will face tremendous internal pressure to democratize. I hope that his reasoning turns out to be correct. For now, the Chinese government has been legitimated mostly on the basis of the enormous advances it has brought about for its people in terms of social and economic development, and on the basis of a resurgent Han nationalism. I hope that the Shanghai Expo is a harbinger of better things to come, and that the growing pains that China is enduring are in general more the characteristic result of a developing nation, rather than something uniquely Chinese.

Shelk said...

Am I the only one who finds the Chinese pavilion to be an unnerving symbol of panoptic, oriental totalitarianism? The scale is horribly dehumanising...

Hanwu said...

Gosh, every thing about China turns into politics. Shame on you!

phillip wong said...

What the F is "oriental totalitarianism"? Is this western racism?

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