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Recession fuels China's Expo worries

2009. 14 May

Only a tiny portion of funds for U.S. pavilion have been raised, putting a damper on the party
( Months after the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics, China is gearing up to throw another global party,
but the worldwide recession is raising doubts about whether at least one key guest will attend.

Expo 2010 in Shanghai is set to be the biggest and most expensive in the 158-year history of the world's fair, and another declaration of China's growing importance on the international stage. But the global economic crisis is threatening to put a major damper on the celebrations, with several countries downgrading their plans.

Most alarming for Expo organizers is the growing possibility that the United States will not have a pavilion when the 70 million expected guests start arriving here next spring. Brazil and Argentina have already announced plans to downgrade their presence in Shanghai.

The committee organizing the U.S. pavilion has slashed its proposed budget for the structure from $85-million (U.S.) to just over $60-million. As of this week, however, it had only raised $2.8-million, calling into question whether the country can meet a June 30 deadline for construction of pavilions to begin.