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Laz word: China syndrome

Liverpool goes it alone to Shanghai as the only UK city at the 2010 World Expo. Will the riches of the Orient be ours? Or not?

Published on September 29th 2009.


Laz word: China syndrome

SHOULD Liverpool pull the plug on its expensive presence at the 2010 World Expo in China’s biggest city, Shanghai?

Independent consultants speak of an expected £50m of business to
be generated for the
city as a direct result
of Expo, making the £3m cost, at least on paper, a safe bet. I find that difficult to accept

The USA had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the showpiece event, London has cancelled its stand so savings can be diverted to the 2012 Olympics.

Larger than life Liverpool, though, is carrying on regardless. It is estimated the cost of the city’s participation will be around £3m and last week Cllr Eddie Clein demanded a report into Liverpool’s presence to make sure it is not going to cost the city a “penny more” than promised.

The NWDA has pledged £1.25m. That’s if they don’t take their ball home following Warren Bradley’s attack on the agency at the Lib Dem conference.

Peel, owners of Liverpool docks and John Lennon Airport, are the biggest significant private sponsor, throwing £100,000 into the rice bowl. The city council itself is pouring in £300,000.

That means they are just over half way to meeting their target.

Liverpool is the only UK city, apart from London, to be invited to take part in Expo, perhaps because the city is twinned with Shanghai.

Was it Warren himself who said Expo will be bigger than Capital of Culture? The blurbs from the Far East talk of a six month event attracting an audience of 70 million people.

It seems too good to be true – the chance for Liverpool to fly the flag for the city, Merseyside and the North West at what will be the world’s biggest exposition.Sadly, potential private sponsors ran for cover when the collection tin was rattled, citing the recession. Indeed when the organisers held a rallying call pow-wow in Manchester to generate support from the burgers of Wetherfield, just one organisation was present.

Independent consultants speak of an expected £50m of business to be generated for the city as a direct result of Expo, making the £3m cost, at least on paper, a safe bet.

I find that difficult to accept. Most countries participating in Expo have their own national pavilions. Liverpool has an area in a themed hall, shared with other exhibitors. With a mock up of the Cavern planned, a showbiz approach will help wow visitors.

Most of the 70m visitors will be ordinary Chinese folk, soaking up the event and enjoying the spectacle, but with no intention of investing anything anywhere, including China. All of the provinces and regions of China have their own pavilions so locals will make a bee line for those.

I wish for once Liverpool would cut out the hyper-spin and the promises of great riches and just say Expo is a brilliant opportunity for Liverpool to show itself off to the world in style. No promises, no expectations, just a feeling it will be good to be there, and if it just so happens to lead to investment in Liverpool or the North West so much the better.

I’ve been to trade fares in China and they are frantic as well as exciting, and require constant hard work to attract potential investors.

The opening of Expo will be something on the scale of the ceremonies opening and closing the Beijing Olympics.

First and foremost, China is selling itself to the world and the other participants, including Liverpool, will be after a share of the spoils.

Yes, it is great Liverpool will be participating in Expo. But a city of high unemployment, many citizens feeling skint will not take kindly to more being extracted from council tax payers to pay for the jamboree.

Larry Neild

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Shanghai ScouserSeptember 28th 2009.

What will happen if the private sponsors don't emerge, will it be scrapped? Seems to be something wrong in funding strategy, why would any private firm want to sponsor, can't see the value to them. The idea of Chinese money coming to Liverpool is remote, Chinese have far more attractive opportunities at home than abroad, and only go out for natural resources. The place where there can be a return on investment is education, and as most visitors will be ordinary Chinese, suggest focus should be in that area rather than Cavern or superlambanana which have zero relevance to Chinese people.

AnonymousSeptember 28th 2009.

Recreate weekend nitetime Mathew Street in Shanghai. That'll show 'em what us Northerners are made of.

AnonymousSeptember 28th 2009.

Liverpool is a little fishing village compared to Shanghai with its population of millions. Just wonder whether we are all being taken for an expensive ride. I somehow don't see Chinese businessmen flocking to Merseyside to set up shop here. Won't they want to attract our few surviving manufacturers to move there for the cheap labour, etc. At the end of the day it depends on whether we afford these jaunts and my instinct tells me it's unlikely

Bull in a China ShopSeptember 28th 2009.

It could be good for the city as long as we don't have any of the usual representatives who go on these jollies acting like a bull in a china shop...

AnonymousSeptember 28th 2009.

Other regions aren't and like Spike said, this is not a trade fair but a cultural celebration. What are they going to make of the centrepiece of the Liverpool stand, the Superlambanana? I can see £50 million coming straight this way

Bubbles the chimpSeptember 28th 2009.

Bollocks. If you believe in all that stuff about Liverpool being an international city still, then I can only assume you've been sitting in Warren Bradley's fire engine for too long. And what relevance have the Chinese people got with the world cup. Am I missing something here?

Liverpool wagSeptember 28th 2009.

Excellently said, Rusty.

RickySeptember 28th 2009.

Can't see that the city will benefit from this. Most people in the city are unaware that it is happening

warriorSeptember 28th 2009.

China,is one of the Countries to watch. Shanghi,is the financial centre of the Pacfic basin area.Many local business have contracts their doing everything from Engineering to Infra structure works. Their are a lot more contracts to be won for firms in the area and the NWest. The University has built a Uni for the locals. Who will come and spend their 2/3years in Liverpool. In coming here they use our equipment,and when they go back they order and use equipment they are familiar with. We should go and fly Liverpools and the NW flag as if we dont other Regions will

Rusty SpikeSeptember 28th 2009.

Well, Laz old son, I'm on your side here - the nonsense spouted by clowns who haven't read or understood the brief about the Shanghai Expo bringing some £50 million worth of investment and business to the city is sheer baloney. The Expo is NOT a business or trade exhibition. It is about cultural issues, about flying the flag for one's city or country etc, in a 'soft power' kind of way - sort of sophisticated rather than a stall flogging off widgets by buckaroos in suits. If Liverpool entrepreneurs and the like want to woo their Chinese counterparts then they need to peddle their wares and the 'attractions' of Liverpool and the North West of England at a... trade fair. Mind you, as you know Laz, its unlikely that any Chinese business person or government official worth his or her salt would cast a second glance at Liverpool. There is no infrastructure to speak of or manufacturing base that could attract them - the Beatles nostalgia bandwagon and endless pap about wondrous Scouse football teams etc., simply wont do, particularly as in the latter case the Chinese are very, very, very big into American style basketball. And, actually, no matter what the council fondly likes to think, it hasn't exactly turned Chinese heads over the ten years of the twinning arrangement with Shanghai, more the opposite. There is a bizarre assumption in the dimly lit corridors of power in Dale Street that it is Shanghai courting Liverpool. Erm, no. Shanghai couldn't give a flying feather about a former once great maritime city on the far western edges of Europe, a city in decline as one Chinese official described it to me recently, unlike Shanghai which is busting out and up all over. The Expo is, though, a one off and fabulous opportunity for us to blow our trumpets loudly and brag about our cultural heritage: our art galleries, our museums, our literary and musical legacies, our academic institutions, even our fabulous maritime history etc. But of course the main thrust of the Liverpool Pavilion is focused on a dingy club (and not even the real one) where a band that folded over 40 years ago played a few times - unlike the Star Club in Hamburg, cough, cough - and erm, I presume football ballyhoo along with a sculpture created by a Japanese bloke- and in Shanghai, of all places. Will Liverpool Museums have a presence? Or the Tate? The Expo is China's next step in its determination to stand tall on the world stage, demonstrate its modern outlook, and forget the humiliations piled on it by foreign powers in the past. It is NOT about making money or cutting deals - it is a cultural and political statement and a celebration of a nation's awakening, like the glittering Olympic Games and this week's coming 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Mind you, now that Biggles Bradley has put the spike into the Liverpool Pavilion's main sponsor (the NWDA) and Cllr Eddie Clein has once again revived that Liverpool propensity for negativity, it probably wont matter a tinker's cuss.

ADSeptember 28th 2009.

Do you havea reason for disbeliveing the "independent consultant"? your reasons seem to be more conjecture. with london not their any business man looking to the UK will only have liverpool to think of which has to work in our favour. As for Anon's point on manufacturing moving to china, China is producing the worlds goods which come back to Europe on Ships, Liverpool is one of the worlds great ports - surely this gives us the chance to bring more of that shipping business to the city.

Urban PaulSeptember 28th 2009.

I think it's great that Liverpool wants to put itself on the world stage oncemore....the city does have a new found confidence and we should continue to build on that in any way we can. I am looking at getting involved at the Expo myself....let's keep our minds (and our acceptance of new ventures and ideas) open :)

Sir Howard WaySeptember 28th 2009.

Has anyone bothered to calculate the income to the city from wealthy Chinese sending their children to summer schools here to learn English at colleges, as well as to study at our three higher education institutions? As well as the students paying out to live here, their parents pay huge course fees to send them here so a bit more publicity in a massive business centre like Shanghai is not to be sniffed at!

DigSeptember 28th 2009.

After CoC we should keep the momentum going. Keep the city on the world stage to establish ourselves as a major tourist destination. Also with the possibility of the World Cup visiting England again relatively soon we should be aiming to ensure we're a host city. I bet not many people know that the Brazil squad stayed in The Golden Eagle in Kirkby in 66'. The Expo may cost a lot but the possible returns could be massive for years to come.

DigSeptember 28th 2009.

Read the 8th and 9th paragraphs. The potential, if it's all true... What harm can it do to trade and tourism by creating stong links with the fastest growing economy and largest populations in the world? If Liverpool keeps promoting itself and its potential around the world it would help us be a host city for the World Cup, if England gets it of course. It's not about the Chinese people and the World Cup. It's all about the success of Liverpool, it's global appeal and our future. So in a nutshell, yes, you did miss something.

Moody MattSeptember 28th 2009.

I agree with Larry. 300 grand is a small price to pay for simply turning up and showing off to a bemused audience half-way around the world? £300 grand is a drop in the ocean. And lots of female scousers will turn up and show off for a pint of Cains. I am sure nbo one can thank of any other way for council taxpayers money to be better spent. Stop being a spoilsport everyone - let Bradley go on all expenses paid trip to Shanghai so he can show off. Bargain.

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