By Jose Alvarez Diaz
SHANGHAI, China – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Thursday attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony here to put the finishing touch on Chile’s pavilion for the 2010 Universal Exposition, which Santiago considers to be the main event for propelling bilateral relations with the Asian giant.
Bachelet – who came to China on a lightning working visit amid her state visit to South Korea and her participation this weekend in the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Singapore – was the one who decided that Chile would build its own pavilion instead of renting one.
After the Expo, “Chile will emerge enriched with a multitude of contacts that here, in China, are the point of departure for the entire process, which they call ‘guanxi.’ This will be the basis for numerous projects and business activities in the future,” said the Chilean leader during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, 170 days before the inauguration of the Expo.
She also announced that over the six months that the Expo will last, between May and October 2010, the Chilean pavilion will devote different weeks to different issues to push various economic and cultural sectors. For instance, there will be weeks devoted to mining, fruit, architecture, wine, painting, music and financial institutions.
Bachelet also emphasized the importance of the debate that will be engaged in at the Expo with an eye toward the future and the slogan “A better city, a better life,” and she noted that by 2020 certain Latin American countries – like Chile, Argentina and Uruguay – are expected to have urban populations comprising around 90 percent of their total citizenry.
Hernan Somerville, the general commissioner for the Chilean pavilion, told Efe that it was Bachelet who supported the Expo by giving her “authorization” and demonstrating the “willingness to play this game in a big way,” for which she gave him “the resources and the personal political support for a business venture of this magnitude.”
“It was she who made the decision to participate in this Expo and to do so in a big way, with our own pavilion and so that it might be a pavilion of excellence,” he said, adding that he considered it “important” that Bachelet had been able to see the broad scope of the finished project before her presidential mandate ends next March. EFE