Thursday, May 6, 2010

Beijing Auto China and Shanghai World Expo 2010

The May holiday weekend has just passed. It was a bad time to visit the tourist sites since there were so many people visiting Beijing, not just foreigners but also other parts of China. 4.36 million visitors came to Beijing over the 3 days, 17% more than last year. And 230,000 people crammed into the Forbidden City. On Apr 30th, a record number of 6 million passengers used the 9 lines of the Beijing subway, that's like the population of London all on the move in one day.

Some were at the Auto China 2010, which featured 990 cars from all over the world. The show attracted 800,000 visitors over 10 days, making it the world's best-attended auto show. I'm glad I went last year (see my Apr 2009 blog "Moo-ve over Ox, this is the Year of the Car"), and bought my car then, because in just one year, prices have gone up and delivery times increased to several months. My car is cheap compared to the 40 luxury cars sold for 150 million yuan, that's an average of just over half a million USD each! The most expensive one was a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 sold for 5.6 MUSD.

And for those without that kind of money, there were always the free parks, currently with lots of blossoms and tulip displays. But again there were crowds of people, since the weather finally turned warm, and every day, over 500,000 visited the city's 11 parks.

Some of my Beijing clients were on their way to the Shanghai Expo. You hear about this every day on the TV, a bit like before the Beijing Olympics 2 years ago. Twice as much money has been spent on this Expo than on the Olympics. 70 million are expected over the 6 months to end of October, in a city of 22 million people. It will be a chance to show off China's economic development to the world, but since 95% of the visitors will be from within China, it is more a chance to show the world to the Chinese.

This is the world's largest Expo since the first one in London in 1851, with 246 countries and organisations taking part, 102 government leaders attending and 2 million volunteers to help you around the site, whose area is equivalent to 1000 football pitches.

Tickets sold out on the opening day, May 1st and large crowds came over the long holiday weekend, over 200,000 a day. However numbers are now down to less than half because of the hot 30 degrees C temperature or maybe because of the rain or maybe because it's too expensive for locals. They may have to start giving away free tickets or organise company outings to reach the targets. During the soft opening, the most popular pavilions, apart from China's Oriental Crown, came from United States, Australia, Spain, France and Japan.

I plan go in July with some clients. For those of you who can't come, there's always the virtual site on

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