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Old 04-22-2007, 04:55 PM   #1
Shawoom
 
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Default Shanghai Auto Show - disgrace and disappointment!

Shanghai 2007 (Auto) Horror Show
By Ilan Carmel, April 2007

It began with the common traffic jams a couple of miles away from the venue of the Shanghai 2007 International Auto Show in Pudong. Nothing out of the ordinary in Shanghai, although the lack of police presence on the road not to mention the traffic wardens, symbolized by a total chaos in parking, shouting and honking everywhere, was somewhat menacing.

Anyway, as we marched jubilant with excitement towards the fair grounds we also ignored the ominous swarm of the Chinese masses in families with kids, couples and the elderly, while the organizer promised “trade visitors only” for the first two days of the show. The scenes we encountered approaching the entrance of the fair grounds were worse than what we could ever have imagined. As the massive sign boards in English and Chinese greeted the visitors from home and abroad to the 12th international Shanghai Auto Show, held every 2 years, the masses in their many thousands roamed about without any guidance or direction. There were no sign posts to mark clearly where one should head, no crowd controllers around, except for the main gate, which we finally found after circling the venue.

The typical Chinese scenes of solicitors trying to sell tickets in marked-up prices near the entrance abounded. At 10am the main gates were so over crowded that virtually no one could get in. The crowds, getting increasingly frustrated began pushing and shoving against the few policemen and security guards, who looked rather helpless against the tide of eager auto lovers. Ugly scenes of shouting, fighting soon followed and at which point we decided to try and take another way in. And than, low and behold, another small entrance just popped up between the first and second hall, with a queue that soon amassed also a few thousands and was channeled in at least 3 directions. A “tolerable” amount of shoving and pushing for 20 minutes or so and we found ourselves inside.

Just as we breathed out a sigh of relief the skies opened up and the fair weather gave way to pouring rain. We rushed in to Hall 1 seeking shelter and with the anticipation to be dazzled by the automobile glitz and glamour. However, to our great dismay, the interior turned into real horror trap. As we stood between the BYD Auto and Citroen booths we were shocked and awed by the high pitched decibels blasting from just about every direction. As it turned out, just about every big name who could afford it splashed out money on creating a Chinese style extravaganza, which spells out 1. Skinny models in more than revealing tights smeared all over the cars 2. A sound system equipped to produce the vocal output required for a Metallica concert. 3. A tantalizing periodic show normally made of phlegmatic dancers in ethnic garb of some sort bouncing up and down on the stage to the rhythm of some tacky pop-Latin tune or debouched female string trio who seemed to be paying more attention to swinging their long hairs from side to side than the bows on the strings of their instruments.

The reader of these lines can probably imagine the arduousness discussing business with the Chinese car makers which we, along with the other many foreign trade visitors had to suffer amidst all this organized cacophony. It was virtually impossible to have a real serious conversation even when seating down 10inches from one another. It got so loudly disturbing that a couple of discussions had to be postponed to a more serene time and location.

We naively thought that the horrific saga will end once we leave the fair ground earlier than official closing time, set to 5pm. So an hour earlier we headed to the exit, only to find that our naiveté has, once again been a thorn at our side. The rain was still pouring down hard, accompanied by strong chilly winds. The pavements were covered in puddles mixed with paper mash remains, with no indications to any means of public transportation. The multitudes began swarming outside to find some means of transportation amongst the peddlers selling marked-up low quality umbrellas and the smoke from barbecued meat in between the hordes of cars parked on just about any vacant patch of road or sidewalk.


Only after a couple miles walking in the rain and getting nearly completely drenched did we begin to see some vacant taxis driving up and down looking for customers. An end to our march of torment you may think? Wrong. A coupl of taxis pulled over after we hailed them, and the stories sounded eerily similar: “my meter’s broken, I’ll take you but you need to pay 180RMB-200RMB (normal fair for this distance is 30RMB tops)”. Residents with cars were also becoming entrepreneurial under the severe conditions, trying to hunt for passengers in the wet and dreary weather where no public transportation was available, demanding extortionate prices.

Out of mere desperation we hoped on the next taxi that stopped, nodding our heads when the cunning driver driveled the same tale. Mid-way he asked for the money, feeling a bit courageous we tried to resist the blatant extortion and breaking of the public transportation laws – we threatened to call the police if we are not charged normal fair. The driver shrugged, and suggested we’ll make the call. As he drove around in circles, the impatient police hotline officer suggested we’ll report our grievances to the media. A couple of blocks away we were forced to get off the taxi with our tails between our legs after the police could not provide us with the highly expected protection and the driver defiantly threatened to drive us to the airport instead and leave us there.

Another half an hour passed, standing soaking wet in the rain, trying to flag down another taxi, while they are passing by empty, refusing to take the fair. Again, in a final surge of audacity we jumped on a taxi which just stopped in the traffic lights ahead of us and sat ourselves down. The clearly confused young driver informed us he could not take the fair, because he does not know the address we gave him (right in the city center, 10mins from People’s Square) even when a GPS was sparkingly blinking on his car’s dashboard. Another complaint phone call to his company’s hotline, but of course to no avail, they refuse to help. We had to guide him all the way back downtown.


Now, how difficult is it to create a clear strategy and stick to it, according to the very different types of visitors in such a fair? The organizers seem to have been more interested in selling additional 300,000 tickets or so at 100RMB each to the general public than in promoting a true business environment, even if only in 2 of the 6 days of the fair. Instead they opted to purely and clearly mislead the many foreign companies’ representatives who came to the fair under the promise of “trade visitors’ days” facing a reality which can hardly be seen as anything but disgrace.

If this is the face of the Shanghai 12th international Auto fair in 2007, we should not hang our hopes too high for the 2008 Beijing Olympics or even the 2010 Shanghai World Expo for that matter. China still needs to prove itself in the proper logistical organization of major international events, rather than showcase pure greed motivations.
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Old 04-22-2007, 06:14 PM   #2
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I see that the Beijing Olympic Organization Commitee has made a terrible mistake of distributing venues all over Beijing. It's going to be a traffic nightmare.
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Old 04-23-2007, 02:18 AM   #3
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Wow what a story, Thanks for sharing that with us.
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:17 AM   #4
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As I see you are in the business, I think you will have to put it down as one of those challenges you have personally overcome and are able to save your customers from going through.

as they say, ............................that's positivetorque.
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Old 04-23-2007, 09:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawoom
........ a reality which can hardly be seen as anything but disgrace......
A dark cloudy, rainy day can sour anyone's perspective on an event like this, regardless of where it is in the world. China's a work in progress, Mr. Carmel. Lighten up and next time leave your Western frame-of-reference at home.
Hopefully China will always remain uniquely Chinese.



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Old 04-23-2007, 09:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragin
A dark cloudy, rainy day can sour anyone's perspective on an event like this, regardless of where it is in the world. China's a work in progress, Mr. Carmel. Lighten up and next time leave your Western frame-of-reference at home.
Hopefully China will always remain uniquely Chinese.
Perhaps its Mr. Carmels first time in China, coming up to language barriers at every turn (even in big cities like Shanghai) added to pour weather and the usual chaotic (yet managed) Chinese event and you have yourself a situation that would make many a laowai vent his anger.

Its just that this laowai is a journalist and has the chance to rant about it to a wide audience.
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragin
A dark cloudy, rainy day can sour anyone's perspective on an event like this, regardless of where it is in the world. China's a work in progress, Mr. Carmel. Lighten up and next time leave your Western frame-of-reference at home.
Hopefully China will always remain uniquely Chinese.
Corrections-

1. The weather aspect was literary tool to spice up the piece and put some additional color into it. As a sophisticated reader should have noticed.
2. The author has been living in China for the past 7 years.
3. The author is a fluent Mandarin speaker with strong abilities in Shanghai- dialect.
4. The writer holds a Master degree in Chinese urban anthropology and of course has throrough knowledge of China's so called "work-in-progress". With all the cultural sensitivity in mind, one is still entitled to make a sensible, well argumented critique of just about any cultural phenomenon.
5. The author does hope that China will improve its negative aspects, while strive to retain its unique cultural backbone. An international event that is characterized by chaos and suffering to visitors which was generated by sheer greed and disregard to internationally acceptable minimum standards, does not qualify as "uniquely Chinese".
6. The authors journalistic qualifications put him in the position of expressing publicly what many felt silently or only expressed privately. Surely that's just the oposite of a disadvantage.
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Old 04-23-2007, 11:41 AM   #8
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Shawoom - is Mr. Carmel yourself?

http://www.tradekey.com/profile_view...hawoom!-Co.htm

Sorry if I offended you in any way
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:49 PM   #9
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Wow, what a nightmare you had! But exactly what I'd expect in China! The problem is just compounded by the lousy weather, which is unfortunate.

Of the several "events" I've attended in China, they're either over-crowded or nearly empty. The event organizers seems to have no clue on how to organize an event.

Anyway, next time, check the weather forecast before you go (I always do no matter where I go), and if feasible, go on the last day instead of the first.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:40 AM   #10
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Don't worry about the Olympics, man. They will pull it off just fine. After all it's "for the world", not just money.

I just wouldn't want to be a Beijinger at that time. It will probably be unbearable during the games. There will be LOTS of people to control "the crowds".
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