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Mobilizing public diplomacy

WORLD Expo 2010 Shanghai China is about to unfurl its wonders. Following the success of the Beijing Olympic Games, our nation will present the world with another successful, exciting and unforgettable event. This World Expo will be a golden opportunity for China to show itself to the world to the fullest extent and for the rest of the world to better understand China.

This World Expo will draw global attention to Shanghai in four principal ways.

First, the World Expo is an established brand with a century-old history of providing a platform for exhibiting mankind's latest achievements. "Everything starts with World Expo" is a saying of enduring popularity. The history of World Expo is also a history of major breakthroughs in the global economy, culture, and science and technology. During the past 150 years, many new ideas, technologies and products were unveiled for the first time before they went on to become popularized and change people's life. The World Expo is a global stage for every nation, every region and every nationality to gather, to exhibit their diverse cultures, to show off new technologies and products, and to communicate and learn from others.

The second attraction is the timing of the World Expo Shanghai, which comes on the heels of the global financial crisis. History has recorded the active role a world exposition can play in lifting the human spirit. The Chicago World Fair of 1933 was held against the backdrop of the Great Depression but still attracted 23 million visitors. It created nearly 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly, boosting confidence during a gloomy economic time. Today, when the world is facing the worst economic times since the 1930s, the global community is hoping that World Expo 2010 will lighten up the path out of the crisis at the earliest possible date.

The third attraction is the theme of the World Expo - "Better City, Better Life." This theme is particularly pithy. Although urbanization is an inevitable trend in the development of civilization, it has seriously infected some cities across the world with what has been called the "urban disease." The question arises: Have cities made our life better or worse? Judging from the pavilions built by participating countries at the Shanghai exposition site, an incredible body of wisdom is emerging on methods of melding urban development with improved urban living.

The fourth attraction is the unique symbol of this World Expo - modern-day China. Over the past 30 years since its economic reforms and opening-up to the outside world, China has undergone fundamental changes and emerged as an important leader on the world stage. People will come from across the globe to visit World Expo in Shanghai and many will venture beyond the city to see other parts of this great country, to admire its scenic beauty, to experience its culture and even to seek business opportunities.

More than 240 countries and international organizations will be participating in World Expo 2010 Shanghai China. The events will provide an ideal platform for the convergence of governments, non-governmental organizations and ordinary people. This will be diplomacy, official and non-official, writ on a large scale.

Public diplomacy is an integral part of a nation's overall diplomacy. People meeting people of different nationalities and cultures exchange something very personal. Prejudices and misunderstandings melt away. In essence, public diplomacy is an exchange of information and opinions. In today's world, the development of any country is not only determined by its national conditions but also by global circumstances. To help the world genuinely understand China, a large developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, we cannot simply count on Western media coverage being fair and unbiased. The communication skills of every Chinese person are important tools in helping the world understand our nation.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China is expected to attract 70 million visitors including 3.5 million foreign visitors. This is why we regard it as another historic opportunity to promote public diplomacy after the Beijing Olympic Games. Tourism has been called "the messenger of peace, the bridge of friendship and the driving force of goodwill." In 1967, the motto for the International Tourism Year was: "Tourism: Passport to Peace." International tourism helps visitors better understand different regions, nationalities, civilizations and lifestyles. It ameliorates ignorance and prejudice.

To further build up the public enthusiasm for the World Expo, we should try our best to win the understanding and support of every government and nation across the world.

I suggest that all Chinese newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasters, TV stations and Internet companies strengthen their coverage of this event.

I also suggest that Chinese tourism authorities and non-governmental tourism organizations provide tourists with well-designed packaged routes associated with the theme of this World Expo. Tourism information must be tailored to the needs of foreign visitors, and publicity about China should begin with the very basics.

We must treasure the World Expo as a great chance for public diplomacy. We must ensure that those who come to visit take home with them a deeper understanding of modern-day China, a country that reformed its economy and opened to the outside world, a developing country with a 5,000-year-old civilization and the world's second-largest gross domestic product and a nation that is still endeavoring to integrate itself with global development.


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