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December 11, 2011

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Home » City specials » Qingdao

Qingdao gets ready to blossom

WHILE the 2011 International Horticultural Exposition has just waved goodbye to visitors in Xi'an City, preparations for the 2014 edition have been in full swing since 2009 in Qingdao City, Shandong Province.

As a successful host of the sailing competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Qingdao is ready to stage a more spectacular event. It will be the first time that a horticultural expo will be hosted in a coastal city.

The event will be held from April 18 to October 18, 2014 in Baiguoshan Forest Park, Licang District.

For the local government, getting the rights to such a big international event is a great marketing chance. The government hopes to improve infrastructure and attract more business to the city, which has the largest port in northern China.

To ensure people have a rewarding visit, the Qingdao government has been planning for years.

The design for the park was made by Wu Zhiqiang, chief planner of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai and vice president of Tongji University. Wu is also the chief planner for Qingdao's Expo Park.

Inspired design

His inspiration came from the ancient Chinese tale "Heavenly Maiden Scattering Flowers." Strips of colorful flowers will extend from the Theme Pavilion to the mountain top on the north side and to the entrance on the lower land in the south, decorating two lakes at the central part of the park.

The main road, the floral avenue, will link the lakes and join a sea of flowers at the south square. The theme pavilion will be built in the center of the park, linking all seven theme zones.

The China Zone, also the red zone, will exhibit horticultural designs collected from the country's municipalities and cities from Shandong.

The orange zone, or the Park of Floral Art, will showcase how plants and flowers are used in big events such as weddings. Space will also be set aside to exhibit works from masters, young artists and experimental practitioners so visitors can get a taste of innovation in the world of plants.

The Herbal Garden, or the yellow zone, is where visitors can appreciate how plants help protect human health. Inspired by China's herbal bible, the "Compendium of Materia Medica," the garden will use advanced technology to show how plants fight against urban pollution and diseases.

The green zone is for kids. In this zone, kids can use their cognition and imagination to learn about plants. Scenes from fairy tales will be set up in the zone to make learning fun.

The light green zone features scientific installations that appeal to different senses. It aims to reveal nature's intelligence through the most advanced technology.

The blue zone looks at the future of the "green industries" and a low carbon way of life. Shaped as a leaf, the blue zone advocates technology and vitality.

Completing the circle is the purple zone, or the International Park.

The Theme Pavilion will become a future landmark in Qingdao, organizer said.

More than 5,000 suggestions have been received for the expo's logo and mascot. The logo will be announced at the end of this year and the mascot will be chosen next year, according to the organizer.

Design details for the main pavilions will be finished by the end of this year.

Great attractions

When people visit Qingdao, there are two things that most people probably don't want to miss - the beer and the sea. In 2014, these attractions will also be used to entertain visitors.

Qingdao has the country's second largest brewery, Tsingtao, which was founded in 1904 by the Germans and now has about a 15 percent share of China's beer market. The city has also hosted an annual international beer festival for more than two decades. At the expo, visitors will be able to see one of the ingredients - the hops flower - in beer.

"Beer has been a most popular drink in Qingdao and in many places in the world, but exactly how many people have seen hops flowers," said Li Fengli, director of the Qingdao Horticultural Expo Bureau and secretary-general of the Qingdao Horticultural Expo Organizing Committee. "It would be interesting to have these flowers in the park."

Kunming of Yunnan Province, Shenyang of Liaoning Province and Xi'an of Shaanxi Province are the only other Chinese cities to have hosted the International Horticultural Exposition. But it will be the first time the International Horticultural Exposition comes so close to the sea, and Qingdao will introduce large varieties of aquatic and marine plants to highlight the city's characteristics.

Wrapped to withstand the frigid winter temperature, plants have been sent to the site since last October so they are ready for the show. A World of Water Lily Garden has been set up to host more than 1,000 species of water lily and lotus plants from all over the world.

"More herbs will be introduced to the garden in the future. Together with the water lily and lotus, the herbs will be used to illustrate the 'Compendium of Materia Medica'," Li said.

The organizer will also cooperate with local universities to introduce marine plants at the site.

"At that time, varieties of plants will fill the water area in the park," Li said. "The fish will instead become the foil."

Besides, visitors can also enjoy a sweeping view of native vegetation as well as exotic plants.

The Executive Committee of the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition has established an ad hoc team to carry out a general survey of the trees within the Expo Park. Through this investigation, the committee made a selection principle for plants, which mainly favors 20 native species such as pine and gingko trees. The transplantation of trees is expected to finish next spring.

Trees introduced from overseas will include London plane, ginkgo, beech, hackberry, ash, Luan tree, horse chestnut and tulip tree with the total number exceeding 1,000 trees.

Both the economy and ecology will be highlighted by the government when hosting the event.

"The Olympic sailing competition in 2008 put the city on the world map; the horticultural expo aims to maintain Qingdao's draw and garner constant attention from the world," Li said.

Qingdao is in a very important economic position in the eastern part of China, and is making efforts to expand its global influence, which can in turn draw greater business opportunities. The government expects that by hosting the event, more professionals will be attracted to the city. Tourism-related industries are also expected to get a boost.

The organizer said it expects about 11 million people will visit the expo during its six-month run.

The government does not want to harm nature while hosting the event.

"We cannot cause any damage to the environment while holding a horticultural expo," Li said.

Qingdao Agricultural University was invited as a partner of the organizing committee to conduct a general investigation of plant resources. Birds and animals in and around the park as well as plants will be chosen according to environmental impact, according to Li.

Plants were given the utmost priority when constructing the park. Watering and dust collecting equipment will be installed on drilling machines to control dust. The routes for construction workers and vehicles have been fixed so they don't trespass on natural vegetation. Devices to prevent fires have also been put up to prevent damage to nature.

Besides, the committee is working with Tongji University to utilize kitchen and bath water for irrigation.

Frantic pace

These days workers are busy building the roads at the International Horticultural Exposition Park.

Excavators, loaders and other construction machinery are operating at the site despite falling temperatures. Workers said that at present, the facilities and underground pipe network and other infrastructure projects are under construction in the north and south area.

As early as 2007, the Qingdao government advocated hosting the International Horticultural Exposition as part of a strategy to boost economic and social development. The government wants to use the opportunity to lift the city's competitiveness.

In April 2009, the government submitted an application to Shandong Province government to bid for the rights to host the 2014 International Horticultural Exposition. The provincial government approved the application two weeks later, expressing confidence that Qingdao is "capable of hosting an International Horticultural Exposition with style and high quality."

With close coordination and joint efforts of various government departments, Qingdao was granted the honor to host the expo for 2014 during a meeting of International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) in September 2009. Doeke Faber, president of AIPH, formally confirmed Qingdao as the host city after paying a visit to Baiguoshan Forest Park, the site for the expo.

As Faber signed the contract, preparation work for the expo formally started.

Currently, construction of roads and other infrastructure is widely underway.

"Winter is not a good season for construction of halls, and we shall start building the main halls and plant museums in the spring," an official said.

Construction of the main avenue has been in full swing since the end of March, and can open for traffic by the end of 2012. So far, construction has started on 20 of the 27 planned roads, with a total length of 25 kilometers. The park's pipeline system, including water, sewer, gas, heating, electricity and telecommunications will total 45 kilometers upon completion.

Major projects are expected to be completed by October 2013, and thereafter, the expo will start welcoming visitors on a trial basis until March 2014, one month before the official opening.

During the trial opening, efforts will be made to prepare for the opening and closing ceremonies. Preparations for reception, ticket affairs and tourist services will also be done during the period.

"After visiting the Xi'an Horticultural Expo, we have learned a lot," said Li, the lead organizer. "They offered many ideas about how we can make our expo a better experience."


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