Could Shanghai Show Up Beijing?

Beijing was in the world spotlight earlier this year when it hosted the Olympics. In 2010, it will be Shanghai‘s turn when it houses the World Expo. Despite not enjoying the media attention of the Olympics or FIFA World Cup, World Expos, a.k.a. World’s Fairs, have been held for over 100 years and hold a certain degree of cultural clout. Contingents of many nations come to showcase their industry and culture to the world. Chicago and London were both famous hosts of early World’s Fairs. Zaragoza, Spain had the 2008 version, which wrapped up last month after a 60 day run.

Shanghai is set for a bit more spotlight than Zaragoza, though. The ’10 World Expo will run for six months (May-October) and is expected to draw the largest number of visitors of any such event in history. They’ll have to beat 50 million attendees, the number set by Montreal in 1967.

But it isn’t about the numbers, really. Beijing got its chance in the spotlight with the Olympics. But Shanghai is China’s largest, most modern and wealthiest city. It is well on its way to regaining some of the glory it had as East Asia’s cultural heart in the 1920s. Many people consider Shanghai the only truly modern metropolis in the PRC. Its buildings, culture and economic power back up that hypothesis; as do features like a glut of modern architecture and one of the world’s largest subways. While the cameras won’t be trained on Shanghai for the entire 6 months, the city will have a chance to show that it is, in many ways, the face of modern China.

Driving in China: Don’t slow down to enjoy the scenery, you might get fined

Last week China opened the world’s longest sea bridge in order to cut travel time between two ports, Ningbo and Shanghai. But on a bridge that is 22.4 miles long, it’s hard to not slow down to enjoy the impressive scenery; you are crossing over a large body of water after all. Since its opening on May 1, Chinese police have fined over 300 drivers for driving too slow across the bridge or even illegally parking in the emergency lines while taking some scenic photos.

“I just wanted to drive a bit slowly and enjoy the sea breeze. Is that wrong?” an unnamed driver complained.

You would think that with such a bridge — and at $1.7 billion, such a budget — would invest in some sightseeing platforms. Not to worry, those are coming… in two years. For now, if you want any interesting scenic shots, better bring some extra yuan to pay your fine.