China seeks to match Japanese quality

by Ko Hirano

Kyodo News

SHANGHAI — With the Shanghai World Expo opening to the public Saturday for a six-month run, China appears eager to catch up with Japan in terms of the quality of its growth to achieve sustainable and balanced economic expansion.

Pointing to the Japan Pavilion in Shanghai, pundits say Chinese visitors should learn from Japan’s industry, as well as its energy-saving and environmental protection technologies, as China moves closer to becoming a developed country.

The Japan Pavilion features a futuristic “zero-emission town,” a municipality set in 2020 that emits no carbon dioxide through the use of 20 types of environmental technology, including a power-generating window whose glass is covered with clear, thin solar cells, and steelmaking with hydrogen, which would reduce emissions by 30 percent.

The pavilion also presents the latest robot technology for nursing and medical care.

Although China is expected to overtake Japan this year as the world’s second-largest economy, Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Beijing still lags Japan “in terms of the quality of growth,” citing its comparatively low energy efficiency.

Similarly, Zhou, also an adviser to the Chinese Commerce Ministry, pointed out China’s per capita gross domestic product is significantly smaller than Japan’s.

“China will not top Japan by per capita GDP until around 2050,” he said.

“With the theme, ‘Better City, Better Life,’ the Shanghai Expo makes us realize the importance of urbanization to human development and the environment,” he said. “In this regard, I think China, which is experiencing rapid urbanization and modernization, can learn a great deal from Japan.”

Most of an estimated 70 million visitors to the World Exposition Shanghai China 2010 will be Chinese nationals, but of the estimated 3 million foreign visitors, 1 million are expected to come from Japan.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is considering visiting the expo next month to promote Japan’s National Pavilion Day on June 12.

Atsuhiko Hatano, minister for commercial affairs at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, said the Shanghai Expo provides the Japanese public a good opportunity to “actually see and feel a rising China and its development and technology levels so we can better understand the country.”

“This is an event for China to show the world that the county is about to join a group of developed countries,” Hatano said, likening the Shanghai Expo, which follows the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, to the 1970 Osaka Expo, a national project after the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964.

Urso Chappell, founder of expomuseum.com, made similar comments, citing the emergence of Japan and China as major powers in the respective periods.

“As far as a direct relationship, I see a lot of parallels between 2010 in Shanghai and Expo ’70,” CNN quoted Chappell as saying Friday. “At that time Japan, coming out of World War II, was still building and basically trying to re-brand itself and show itself to the world. “And I see Expo 2010 as very much being the heir to that.”