Daily Archives: October 26, 2010

Gideon Rachman

After last week’s visit to the Shanghai Expo, I have been exchanging notes with fellow visitors. This has yielded three further insights:

1. I had been struck by the number of people in wheelchairs on the Expo sight. It is widely suspected that this is because many pavilions allow disabled people – or the extremely elderly  – to jump the queues. Since the queues are so enormous, there is obviously a strong incentive to be old or in a wheelchair, or to be the able-bodied companion of one of the aforesaid categories. As a result you can not only rent wheelchairs outside the site of the Expo, you can even rent old people – who for a fee will allow themselves to be wheeled around. 

Anybody who talks regularly to Chinese officials will be familiar with the mantra that “China is a developing country”. But Shanghai, which I visited last week, mocks this modest description. With its eight-lane highways, its modern and efficient subway, its forest of neon-lit skyscrapers, giant new airport and chic hotels, China’s commercial capital is defiantly developed.