Expo 2010 - roadmap to a Chinese future

Haibao, the Expo 2010 mascot (Wikimedia Commons)

The next world's fair, Expo 2010, will be held in Shanghai, China. It will begin in less than two weeks, starting on May 1st and continuing till the end of October. The area of the Expo will be the largest in the history of world's fairs and it is also expected to reach the largest visitor count in history - a goal I believe it will easily achieve. I also believe it will do more, by exceeding its goal of getting 70 million visitors. However, it can be seen as more than just a hugely popular event.

So far, due to its huge size, China has been a prime example of a country to which western corporations have moved their manufacturing in order to save money in labour costs. This, sometimes referred to as the "China phenomenon", has been a significant factor in China's economic rise and has pushed China towards a more consumerist lifestyle - especially amidst the younger generations. In addition to being a growing market and a place for manufacturing, an emerging trend in the upcoming years will be the increasing amount of also white-collar work moving to China. One factor supporting this is the increasing amount of Chinese with a sufficient knowledge of English or other foreign languages. This in turn will further strengthen the Chinese influence over the world.

All of this has made the Chinese economy growing at a very rapid annual rate of about 10% during the past few decades. It is almost inevitable that it will, at some point, surpass the U.S. as the biggest economy on the planet. It may be unlikely that it would happen as soon as during this decade, but even so, it probably will happen during the 2020's. As a consequence not only is the Expo 2010 a huge event, but it can be seen as a sign of what is to come. Just like the expo held in Shanghai will most likely be the biggest of its kind so far, so will China very likely soon be the most powerful country in the world - at least in the economic sense. Therefore, when looked from the late 21st century, this year's Expo might be regarded as a harbinger of a new era.

Shanghai (Wikimedia Commons)
What kind of consequences this power shift to the east will have remains to be seen. It is to be hoped for that issues related to human rights, corruption and freedom of speech will be improved by the time China reaches the status of the biggest economy in the world. At that point the importance of China as a market will be bigger than ever, and this will most certainly affect the way China views the rest of the world. As staying in China will become even more important to most multinational corporations, China has little need to specifically persuade any company or to try to please western organizations. Thus, the drive for change has to come from China itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment