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Beijing High-Tech, Robotic Expos Postponed Indefinitely
May 2003
BEIJING, May 8 -- The Sixth China Beijing International High-Tech Expo has been postponed until further notice, said its organizing committee in an April 24 bulletin, according to China's People's Daily newspaper. It was scheduled to be held May 23-27, along with the 2003 International Robot & Robotization Equipment Expo, at the China International Exhibition Center.

The newspaper gave no explanation for the postponement. However, expo organizers told the Genesis Technology Group, the exclusive US agent for the show, that they feared low attendance due to travel restrictions and reluctance resulting from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic, said Melanie Eckenroth, the group's sales and marketing coordinator.

Genesis Technology Group, based in Boca Raton, Fla., promotes commerce between companies in the US and China. It was contracted to promote the show and to help American companies with registration and the logistics of attending and exhibiting. Eckenroth said only a few companies had registered through Genesis when the show was postponed. She did not know how many companies, American or worldwide, had been registered to attend or when it might be rescheduled. E-mails to the expo's Chinese government sponsors were unanswered.

The World Health Organization ordered SARS-related travel warnings at the end of April for Toronto, Beijing and China's Shanxi province, effective for at least three weeks. Today the U.N. health agency extended its China travel warning, recommending that people postpone all but essential travel to Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Taipei and Tianjin. "This temporary advice will be reassessed regularly," WHO said in a note to the press on its Web site.

The expo was to focus on scientific and technological innovations, opportunities related to the Olympic Games and economic cooperation, Beijing Deputy Mayor Zhang Mao, vice chairman and secretary general of the organizing committee for the expo, had told the People's Daily. Sixteen forums and dozens of economic and trade talks were to take place at three separate venues in Beijing. The expo would also highlight China's high-tech industries that have been listed as key development tasks for the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005). Planned exhibits had included parts of China's "Shenzhou" spacecraft series and related models.

China International Exhibition Center has a combined floor space of 80,000 square meters, 40 percent of which had been rented as of March 1, the People's Daily reported. World Trade Organization Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi and CEOs of 14 multinational companies were expected to attend.

The New York Times reported on April 15 that the Chinese Export Commodities Fair, which usually attracts tens of thousands of buyers from around the world, opened that day with nearly empty halls, as most customers stayed home from fear of SARS. Vendors said business was off more than 90 percent compared with previous years, according to the article.

Today's China Daily reported that senior Chinese trade experts said China could have a trade deficit of between $2 billion and $3 billion (US) this year due to fears of SARS.

"But the big gap in foreign trade is not expected to do substantial harm to the Chinese economy and should not be seen as cause for panic because China has a huge foreign-exchange reserve," Gao Huiqing, a senior researcher with the State Information Center, told the newspaper.

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