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April 14, 2010

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From Denmark with love: Little Mermaid

THE arrival of the Danish treasure, the Little Mermaid sculpture, has attracted world attention to the Denmark Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

The world-famous statue has made the pavilion very popular with Chinese online, and long lines are expected when the Expo opens on May 1.

The Expo is by far the biggest event for the year and the Danish Consulate General in Shanghai is assisting the nation's Expo Secretariat with logistics, meetings, events, bookings and especially high-level delegation receptions, according to Susanne Hyldelund, Danish consul general in Shanghai.

"We will focus on creating a platform for promoting Danish lifestyle, products and design and how these relate to the theme of 'Better City, Better Life'," she says.

Denmark has prepared many activities on both business cooperation and culture exchanges for the Expo year.

Apart from the famous Little Mermaid statue, the Danish Crown Prince will visit the Expo on the Danish National Pavilion Day on June 29.

The prince is chairman of the national Expo committee. The celebrations that day will include concerts and a wide variety of performances.

The Danish Expo group plans to bring Danish music to China in a series of performances, including jazz and modern music, to be staged in the pavilion. In May and June professional choirs will be featured.

In May Denmark and China will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, and the consulate is planning events together with the embassy in Beijing.

Throughout the year, a number of Danish ministers will be visiting China for talks with their counterparts on numerous issues.

Denmark has a lot of scope for cooperation with China on environmental issues and energy efficiency. A number of Danish companies are working with the Shanghai Water Authority. The consulate is encouraging them to cooperate in a small-scale test project on water conservation.

It would involve the installation of Danish technology in households in specific areas so that water consumption can be monitored. As people become aware of how much water they use, they are more likely to conserve, it is hoped.

If the project is effective, it could be expanded to larger areas in the city.

Denmark is also creating a Nordic Lighthouse project in Yangpu District that will operate as a supplementary venue to the Expo Pavilion, says Hyldelund. It will provide another permanent venue for exhibitions, performances and commercial activities at other times.

The lighthouse will showcase healthy Danish lifestyles and promote areas where Chinese and Danish people share common interests, as in good food and sports.

Many commercial activities will take place outside the Expo. The consulate will do a lot of matchmaking between Danish companies with Chinese distributors, agents and retailers.

"We see more and more Danish companies looking into how to get into the retail business in Shanghai, but it takes a lot of backing and support and a lot of knowledge about the local market, so we are actually trying to work with the companies and help them find good partners in this market," says Hyldelund.

People often think of Danish pastry, but many Danish fashion brands are succeeding in China, including Jack & Jones, ONLY and VERO MODA clothing, with outlets in Shanghai and around China. Newer brands include Georg Jensen (jewelry, watches, silverware) and Flugger (paint).

Denmark in Expo

SHANGHAI has just received a very special guest for the World Expo: the Little Mermaid.

Made in 1913 and modeled after the famous fairytale character created by Hans Christian Andersen, the bronze statue of the Little Mermaid has been sitting on a stone in the Copenhagen harbor for nearly a century.

The Shanghai visit is the first time the Danish national icon and major tourist attraction has left home.

Although the Little Mermaid has traveled thousands of kilometers to an Oriental country that she is unfamiliar with, she will see signs of home.

At the entrance of the Denmark Pavilion, she will perch on a similar stone in a manmade lake, the setting resembling a miniature Copenhagen harbor.

"Welfairytales," the theme of the pavilion, combines the words "welfare" and "fairytale" that frame the concept of the pavilion and exhibition in the "Better City, Better Life"-themed Shanghai Expo.

The Denmark Pavilion will present new images, ideas and information about how Denmark, with its welcoming fairytale icon, can create sustainable cities with a high quality of life. Bicycle-sharing will be offered in the pavilion.

Riding a bike through the pavilion that recaptures Copenhagen streets is not only a way to enjoy the Danish lifestyle in the country's capital city, but also a way to promote environment concern.

"Our concern for the future prompts us to ride bicycles. It's a good way to reduce carbon emissions," says John Hansen, project director of the Danish Expo Secretariat.

Q: How long and where have you been a diplomat?

A: I have been a diplomat for 14 years, including three in the United States, two in Poland and so far one in Shanghai.

Q: Favorite place:

A: Taikang Road. It is a nice place for shopping, eating and seeing interesting people.

Q: Where's the best Danish restaurant?

A: We do not really have a Danish restaurant here. Any place that can offer mix of Chinese and Western food is good, and I enjoy the big variety of restaurants.

Q: What is the best, worst thing about diplomacy?

A: The best is of course to have the privilege to live in foreign countries and experience foreign cultures. The flip side is also that you spend time away from your family and friends.

Q: As a diplomat, what is the one item you can't do without?

A: In China the business card is the one thing you cannot work without - and I am very fortunate to have been given a good Chinese name, He Lilan, which always receives many positive comments from the Chinese officials I meet.

Q: Motto for life:

A: Life is too short to spend time regretting decisions of the past.

Q: What do you miss most from home?

A: I miss being able to bicycle to work and enjoy the company of my friends and family.


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