USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Foreign Attitude Towards China

On my second day attending the World Expo, the first place I went was the USA Pavilion followed by the Australian Pavilion.  It is an obvious assumption that the target audience for all the pavilions is the Chinese public.  What is so interesting is how each country chose to treat its target audience.

America is, well America.  We, as I’m sure every country at the World Expo, portray ourselves as we wish we were and hope to be.  The USA Pavilion was primarily sponsored by major brand names and we are proud of it.  The pavilion’s show started with a short skit of Americans trying to speak Chinese, and for the most part failing miserably.  The next skit consisted of major corporation leaders, the president and vice president talking about the importance of being green, how we need to do it for the future generations, and how important it is to celebrate our children.  The last show was about a little girl who lived in the city and actively makes everyone else in her community make a green-space out of an abandoned corner and essentially care about their neighborhood.  The pavilion seemed to have an internal focus, an attitude seemingly saying ‘This is who I am, learn from me.  But let us all learn from our children.’

The show in the Australian Pavilion’s show was also centered on children.  Three children represented the different ethnic groups of Australia, revealed facts about the country and ultimately affirmed the idea of pursuing your dreams.  The best part of the Australian exhibit was not actually the show, but the exhibits you walked through on the way to the show.  In this space Australia perceived China as a sister- siting women in each country and what they have accomplished.  The exhibit and show emphasized how China and Australia aren’t so different and need to work together.

I find this comparison of how Australians treat China versus how Americans treat China so fascinating.  Furthermore how these differences are a result of their respective leaders and each country’s dependence on China.  The US largely depends on China for imports whereas Australia depends on China to buy their exports.  The previous Australian Prime Minister (Mr. Kevin Rudd) spoke Mandarin fluently, without an accent, and formerly worked at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, China.

The architecture of each pavilion also reflects this.  The Australian pavilion’s exterior is coreten steel, referencing Australia’s largest export to China. The whole pavilion consists of Australia’s top exports to China.  The circulation through the exhibits allows one an understanding of Australian culture and ecology before you are ushered into a show explaining these connections.  The USA Pavilion could not be more different.  The building looks like it could be a transplant from any suburban office park, or even our very own LA LIVE.  One instantly feels like you are being rushed through a mini convention center.  Somehow the US represents a motto it has stood for, for many years, “the business of America is business” (Coolidge).  The exhibit shows very little of American culture, everyday life, or history.  What it did show are the things America is known for: business and diversity.  From my interactions with those working at the pavilion, the Chinese people love it.  I think this is because it reaffirms what they want America to be as well, even if it is not necessarily a true perception of life in the USA.  In summary, I believe we are being true to our American identity, but we completely missed the point of the Expo.




Filed under: America, Architecture, China

One Response

  1. Bob Jacobson says:

    It was not the American public’s choice for the “USA” pavilion’s theme to be, “the business of America is business.” It was a choice made in private by Bush Administration strategists who perceived a chance to help their corporate buddies while collecting some campaign contributions and political chits. You might say the difference between the Australian and “USA” pavilions was that one was owned by its people and one was owned by a private firm charged with speaking for one point of view.

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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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