2010/11/05

Taiwan to open its first international expo

TAIPEI, November  5, 2010 (AFP) - Diplomatically isolated Taiwan is set to unveil its first international expo this weekend as it seeks to boost its global profile and attract more tourists, organisers said Friday.

The six-month Taipei International Flora Exposition is estimated to attract at least eight million visitors and generate 16.8 billion Taiwan dollars (545 million US) in revenue, they said, adding that was a conservative estimate.

"We hope the world will see the beautiful side of Taipei through the expo," said mayor Hau Lung-bin, adding that 59 international cities, including three from China, are participating in the event.

Among them, the city of Shanghai, impressed by Taiwan's high-tech pavilion at its World Expo, is recreating an elegant traditional Chinese garden, he said.

The expo also features the world's first pavilion hall made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
The structure, which required 1.5 million bottles, is Taiwan's latest invention as it seeks to promote green technology and architecture.

"It's more than an expo of flowers and gardening. We want to use this to call attention to the fact that environmental protection is a way of life," Hau said.

Organisers also fended off public criticism about the cost of the expo at 9.5 billion Taiwan dollars, saying it is expected to generate at least twice that amount in revenue and boost annual floral exports by 10 percent.

Taiwan, which only has 23 allies worldwide, wants to boost its international profile amid warming ties with former bitter rival China.

This move was highlighted by its return to this year's World Expo in Shanghai after a 40-year absence.

However, Beijing still considers the self-ruled island part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.