Expo role in promoting global Shanghai

Su Ning
Sponsoring the event would result in paradigm shift in terms of the city's functional positioning, spatial layout, regional interactivity, and branding.
Su Ning

The China International Import Expo (CIIE) was a landmark event in turning Shanghai into an outstanding global city and pioneer in the city’s future development.

Sponsoring the event would also result in paradigm shift in terms of the city’s functional positioning, spatial layout, regional interactivity, and branding.

1. Shanghai is functionally more diverse as a global city.

As a vital platform to open the Chinese market to the world, the CIIE showcased a new round of globalization as spearheaded by China. As a gateway to China, Shanghai, in sponsoring this strategic event, suggests further elevation of its function. As Joseph Nye, former dean of the Kennedy School, said, as an important window showcasing China’s foreign trade, Shanghai demonstrated to the world the nation’s economic achievements and developments over the past decades. In the past two decades, in terms of its external economic function, the city has been chiefly responsible for serving the opening-up of a domestic production and export system as driven by direct foreign investment.

The CIIE marked the city’s enhanced capacity to open domestic market system to the world, and the improved import service capacity brought about by the further opening-up. Shanghai’s function changed from one export-oriented targeting developed countries, to one balancing exports with imports targeting, in addition to the US and European countries, also Belt Road Initiative (BRI) countries and developing countries. For example, in 2017 Shanghai’s imports from BRI countries amounted to 364.94 billion yuan, a growth of 25 percent over the previous year, surpassing the 207.26 billion yuan worth of imports from the US.

2. Shanghai is more balanced in spatial development.

Holding the CIIE in Hongqiao added to the function and influence of the greater Hongqiao region, thus promoting Shanghai’s balance in terms of its spatial development.

Since the development of Pudong, Shanghai’s development had been chiefly eastward. As a result, the rapid development in the east had resulted in an agglomeration of international commercial areas, infrastructure and industrial parks in the eastern area.

The CIIE gave fresh impetus to the Western area, balancing east-west development.

3. Regional interactivity deepened.

Shanghai’s aspiration to become an outstanding global city would entail closer coordination between neighboring cities. The tremendous appetite for services during the CIIE transmitted to neighboring regions. What’s more, the infrastructural development in the Hongqiao region will also enable Shanghai to be better equipped to serve neighboring areas in terms of transport, business and culture.

4. Shanghai would gain in its branding.

The CIIE now serves as a sustainable international communication and interactive platform in showcasing Shanghai service, shopping, culture and manufacturing.

Through the prism of CIIE, Shanghai’s comprehensive service capacity, historical-cultural heritage, creativity, urban governance capacity and consumption potentials will all be duly publicized.


The author is associate professor and deputy director of International Politics Economy Research Centre, the Institute of World Economy, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

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