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Documentary on World Expo explains China's thinking

08-03-2010 20:39 BJT Special Report:Shanghai World Expo 2010 |

By Wang Feizhou

The Shanghai World Expo has made a splash in China and sent ripples around the world. Now people are asking, what will be left, after the fanfare is over in three months' time? What will be the legacy of an event that, as far as the Chinese government is concerned, is second in importance only to the 2008 Beijing Olympics? These and other questions are addressed in Expo's Meaning, Shanghai's Mission, to be broadcast on CCTV News at prime time from August 10th to 14th.

This five-part documentary represents a significant step by CCTV News towards international co-production in its analysis and reporting. With its commitment to enlisting the best overseas talent and resources, CCTV News invited Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of a biography of China's former President Jiang Zemin, to host a documentary on the Shanghai World Expo. Kuhn, a well-known non-fiction writer, has also established himself as a television presenter and China expert, through such projects as Closer to Truth and In Search of China.

CCTV News invited Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of a biography of China's former President Jiang Zemin, to host a documentary on the Shanghai World Expo.
CCTV News invited Robert Lawrence Kuhn, author of a biography of China's former
President Jiang Zemin, to host a documentary on the Shanghai World Expo.

Expo's Meaning, Shanghai's Mission is the first joint venture between CCTV and the Kuhn Foundation. According to Fan Yun, Director of CCTV's Foreign Language Service: "By working with overseas television producers, we can familiarize ourselves with international approaches to TV production."

The documentary was filmed in April and May this year by American director Peter Getzels working with a CCTV crew. Dr. Kuhn tours the Expo site, interviewing the organizers and other key figures. Kuhn uses his many years of experience of studying and commenting on current affairs in China, to explore various issues and unravel their complexities.

In one of his most telling statements in the documentary, Kuhn says: "Two major meanings of Expo intertwine: the global demand for livable cities and green technologies, and the historic rise of China." Away from the camera, he stressed: "I am not stating on behalf of anybody. I am merely stating the obvious."

The series was filmed mainly inside the Expo sites, but the commentary touches on varied topics such as how the world values China, Shanghai's history, the bearing of man's future, and the true story from China and about China.

The series also include an exclusive interview with Party Secretary of Shanghai Yu Zhengsheng. Yu Zhengsheng said in the interview, "Shanghai is the largest city in China. Shanghai Expo should help people reach a consensus on how Shanghai should develop and on our way of thinking."

Former spokesman for the government Zhao Qizheng was also a guest speaker of Dr. Kuhn's show. Kuhn's interviewees don't exclude the ordinary citizens of Shanghai and migrant workers who were building the Expo pavilions.

Pang Xinhua, the series producer, commented: "Expo's Meaning, Shanghai's Mission succeeds in highlighting the splendour of the Shanghai Expo visually, with images that complement very well Robert's fine commentary."

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