Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, March 18, 2002

China Participated in World Expo in 1851: Latest Discovery

Chinese people once participated in the first World Exposition held in 1851 in London, the Shanhai Expo 2010 bidding committee and Shanghai Library discovered after careful studies on a batch of historical documents.


In 1851, Shanghai merchant Xu Rongcun brought the First Expo 12 packages of self-made "Huzhuo Silk", which caused great stir and won gold, silver prizes. The fact was recorded in Xu's family annals published in 1884 and in the report of the award-granting committee of First Expo published by the Royal Society of London in 1852. Both documents now can be found in the Shanghai Library.

The new discovery put China's earliest record of World Expo anticipation back 16 years. Before this, it is stated "the first Chinese took part in the Expo is named Wang Tao, who was present at the 1867 Paris Expo" even in official documents submitted to the BIE delegation.

It is reported that a descendent of Xu Rongcun named Xu Xi, now a Shanghai citizen, in last June showed copies of the 150-year-old family records, which was later proved true by Shanghai Library and more discovers were made.

The connection of Xu family with World Expo didn't stop here. In 1872 Xu Rongcun helped the Qing government send out the first batch of students to study in the US in Chinese modern history. The 120 students, send to the US in four batches, included Zhan Tianyou, a famous Chinese expert in railway construction. Latest found documents revealed that the Chinese students took part in the 1876 Philadelphia Expo and was formerly met by then US President.

In the 1904 St. Louis Expo, on which the plane made by Wright Brothers was displayed, one can also saw "Chinese village" and "China Exhibition Hall" built by Qing government at a cost of 700,000 liang silver.

In 1867 Chinese Wang Tao only showed surprise and curiosity over the Expo, but in 1905 Zhang Yuanji, a government official sent to Europe who attended the Brussels Expo, began to realize the value of science, technology and the Exposition.

The new discovery shows the long history and great enthusiasm Chinese anticipated World Expo, as well as the fact that World Expo has long been a stage in which China involved itself in world economy, sci-tech and culture. Many Chinese commodities thread its name all over the world through the fair. Maotai, the most famous brand of Chinese liquor, was granted gold prize in 1915 Panama Expo, while another Chinese Shen Shou's embroidery work also won first prize.

By PD Online Staff Li Heng

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