Chinese Web users make a mockery of World Expo chaos

Just days before World Expo 2010 opens to the public, organisers in Shanghai are scrambling to complete preparations after last week's shambolic trial run. The chaotic situation is the subject of ridicule on the Web, where an anonymous email which criticises everything from the pricey food to the dirty water fountains is being passed around with delight.

After eight years of preparation and 4.2 billion dollars (3.8bn euros), the Shanghai city authorities will open the six-month fair to an expected 70 million visitors on May Day. The cost of the expo — the most expensive in history — is double that of the Beijing Olympics, although the local press believes that the total could be much higher, around 58 billion dollars (44bn euros).

Shanghai has been transformed over the past half decade, with the city centre itself undergoing rejuvenation with modern construction. Locals have even been asked to stop wearing pyjamas in public, an old custom in Shanghai due to the high temperatures.

The trial run that took place last Tuesday, however, revealed a number of unresolved problems when 200,000 people turned up to have a look at the long-awaited attraction. The ensuing chaos sparked one Web user to document the day's events in a critical and sarcastically worded email which very quickly became viral. Canadian blogger Ryan, who lives in Suzhou, just west of Shanghai, translated the email and posted the contents on the Lost Laowai blog. The email subject was "Sorry, we've lost face."


The expo trial according to the email

The following text and photos constitute the main part of the email received and translated by Ryan. The text has been edited. For the original including the Chinese, see Ryan's original post.


On the morning of April 20th, about 200,000 people arrived at the Expo grounds. The resulting crowds forced venues at the China pavilion to close. At that point it appeared that only the Australian pavilion was still open. With no other option, the visitors got in line at the pavilion, creating a 500-600 metre queue. Suddenly the crowd pushed forward, and because the pavilion could not accommodate the crowd, they also closed. The Australian pavilion representative had to continuously apologise to the waiting crowd.

(...) The German pavilion, unable to accommodate the masses, quickly put up 'Closed' signs too.

Shanghai Welcomes You

It's no big deal to wait in line.

[It's only] several months; close your eyes and it'll pass.

A little discomfort is nothing, Shanghai people are adaptable!

We are ready!

(...) I think these eyes express the current mood.

Food Services

Expo Meal Set - 48 RMB [€5.30] - it's a bit much.

60 RMB [€6.60] for a plate of curried chicken and an orange juice.

Don't rush. Everyone will have some. Don't squeeze. Ah!

Not expensive, only N-times more than Nan Xiang [a famous Shanghai xiaolongbao (luxury dumpling) restaurant]. Rich idiots: come quick!

Authentic 'Taiwan' sausage. 15 RMB per sausage [€1.65], 5 RMB [44 euro cents] per bottle of mineral water.

Green, pollution-free, natural, no hormones, no Sudan Red [food colouring], no Sanlu [melamine-contaminated milk], no birth control pills, no saccharin [artificial sweetener], non-genetically modified plastic bowl 'stone pot'.

38 RMB [€4.20] 'fried noodles'. Is this fried noodles or swill?

Water Fountains

This is for drinking water, it's not a trash can.

A 5,000 year old 'civilized' country! Under the Communist Party's 'teaching and care'. 2010, we're waiting for you.

This is not an Expo toilet, it's a disinfectant swimming pool.


Estimates put attendance at double that of the trial run.

“I think the Chinese prefer to find out about the world online rather than go to this ‘false world’ in Shanghai”

Jingying Yang is a 22-year-old student from Tianjin (north), currently based in Shanghai.

The atmosphere before the expo is not great. Many people think the expo is a waste of money and resources; the email is a pretty hilarious reflection of that!

I've been asking around about the trial, and I heard someone saying today that they waited four hours in line and that there was almost a stampede and children were injured. But of course the state media is saying that all is well and security is well managed and everyone's having a grand old time and it's not crowded at all (super false: even with 200,000 people it was a mess and they're expecting several times that when it actually opens). There's a fast-pass system (like at Disneyland) for the popular pavilions, and one guy told me it's possible the huang niu (scalpers) will take over that system.

On the other hand, people might not come and prices will drop sharply because of that.

I don't think the expo will attract foreigners as they already come from abroad so they don't need to go to a Chinese exposition to find out about other countries. As for the Chinese in general, they have the Internet now so they know more about the world than previous generations; I think they'd rather find out about it for themselves online than go to this 'false world' in Shanghai.

A lot of the locals aren't too keen either as they hate the expo for causing all the traffic problems. The authorities have tightened security on the metro too. You have to scan your bag every time you get on, which means dropping it on a conveyer belt and then lingering at the other end to check nobody runs off with it. They've also started inspecting every car that enters the city, which takes a hell of a long time."


I want to have a meeting

I want to have a meeting with you on the internet ,do you have qq number?
I will join in you with my friendly people,Do you like it?

i am a chinese. i like to

i am a chinese. i like to read the articles written by foreigners. it just like see my own country through others' eyes. it's a very different concept and angle of view. i think such different views can make me know more about my own country. but in fact, i always read some misunderstanding about china. i love my country, and i know there are still many disadvantages here, but i still love her. because i do believe that the tomorrow will be always better than today. and something bad here was also existing in some developed country also. we just need more time to change it better.

he got brainwashed.

that is what a typical chinese sound like when s/he talks. they got brainwashed by the chinese communist party, they got confused about "loving your country" and "loving the chinese communist party." they think that if you love your country, you should love everything the chinese communist party does.

this expo is causing a lot of traffic problems, many local people were forced to move, sell their own homes, so they can make spaces for the expo.

and there is no "misunderstanding about china" at all. the chinese people are really misunderstanding their own country, because the news media is controlled by the chinese governemtn. and the chinese people can't even go online to read what other countries are reporting about china, because many western news web sites, etc are blocked by the chinese communist government.


So the west dos'nt brainwash people,dream on,Americans and English are bombarded from birth to an adult age ,with garbage from their broadcasters and media,anybody who for decades is subjected to this garbage,ends up a walking zombie.Well brain dead,or has delusions of granduer.Poor Americans,half or more never travel,Even their p[oliticans some,have to look at the world map to see where these countries are on the planet,They hav'nt a clue.

People living the free world

People living the free world have a choice of what they want to watch, what they want to listen, but in China, all news media are controlled by the evil Chinese communist party. Poor Chinese people have no choice but to listen and watch whatever the chinese communist party wants them to watch. That is the definitely of brainwashing.

People in the west are not forced to listen or watch any news coming from their governments.

The chinese communist party fill its TVs and radios with government propaganda. Even the bad news they report are filtered or toned down. For example, If ten people died during a mining disaster, they will say only 1 people died.

yes, you are right. The chinese people "who for decades is subjected to this garbage,ends up a walking zombie." That is what you are doing right now. You have no brain, you just retell everything the chinese communist government.

For the chinese people, they can't even get on Western news web sites easily, because many of those web sites are blocked by the chinese government which have spent billions of Chinese taxpayers' money to block chinese people's internet access to outside world.

If chinese people can't even know the full fact, how can they not be chinese communist party's parrots.

china expo

Should not worry,only the least educated find our broadcasters have any intelligence.Just read them , when you want to be amused at their lack of intelligence.

wahahaha this is the free


this is the free french press ???


you guys full of shit

RE: wahahaha

Dear Unregistered user,

This article is based on an email which, according to our Observers in the country, is very popular with Chinese Web users. If you beg to differ, please give us your opinion on the Expo trial, we would be happy to hear any experiences/ opinions on the trial and the pre-expo atmosphere/ expectations in Shanghai and the rest of China.


Sophie, Team Observers

No comment

No comment

Its obvious you don't like

Its obvious you don't like China
Because your article is simply misleading

That was a trial day,
you guy know what it means?

Anyway French people ahahahaha
Who loves French? can you tell?
I hate them more than you hate China

They are arrogant, pretentious and lazy
always complaining and criticizing others
when they should at theirselves first

you french people are a joke, its world famous now

and i am not even chinese, not even american, ahaha
your country is doomed