Some Thoughts from China’s EXPO Experience

Unlike many horror stories “expo-sceptics” in Kazakhstan post online, the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai was extremely successful, making $12 billion in direct profit. It had powerful multiple effects on the overall economy, especially for small and medium businesses.

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In this regard, I was interested in the Chinese experts’ general feelings after the expo and asked citizens of the country which hosted this international exhibition what they think about the fact that the EXPO 2017 will take place in Kazakhstan. I spoke about concerns buzzing on social networks.

It needs to be mentioned that the Chinese are very positive about the expo. Moreover, I have repeatedly stressed that we should not be afraid of big projects; on the contrary, the successful implementation of international events impacts benevolently on many areas and sometimes even on those that did not expect any officials or experts.

For example, everyone thought that based on the crazy money, the Chinese high-speed railway was just a project that would never pay off. However, in reality according to the international best practices’ standard, due to the indirect revenues the project paid off in five years. Today, the branch which entangled the whole country even goes to unpopular destinations.

Moreover, the Chinese think that the expo brought unprecedented experience in hosting a grand event that the country had never held. In addition, there are renewed infrastructure and new quality standards. Therefore, they were surprised about my questions regarding the expo.

According to a non-official statement of senior researcher Wang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “I think hosting the expo would be a very useful experience. You will feel the effect from the economic to the psychological that can find its implementation in serious projects. It will help the country to continue reaching new levels.”

The Chinese exhibition was visited by 76 million people, so the expected number of three million people in Astana looks very modest. It was interesting to listen to the political nuances of the expo in Shanghai; for example, when the Taiwanese delegation asked for allocation of its pavilion in the Chinese part but with a special status, it was accepted but across a channel. Thus, the wolves were fed and the sheep kept safe.

In general, the Chinese were excited about their expo; now under this brand they are trying to hold all kinds of events, such as China-Eurasia Expo, Sino-Russian Expo, etc. Whatever events, particularly international, there are, the EXPO brand will be in large letters for sure. It is like they conjure it to come back.

I hope Kazakhstan’s expo will be held with no less success and we, like the Chinese, will be able to advise the next host country, “Do not worry; eyes are afraid, but hands are doing the job.”

Especially now, during the period of a drop in oil prices, the Future Energy theme is becoming extremely urgent for the whole country. It is necessary to begin to understand and adapt today to a world without oil, when Tesla and hydrogen cars are still rare.


The author is a political analyst and journalist, currently on a LLM programme in Beijing, China.

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