I caught wind of these “multicultural” Haibao images on the blog of James Fallows, and couldn’t help but feel they’re a bit… well… ummm… insensitive. I would like to think that I am one of the least politically correct people out there, and I groan even approaching the topic. Perhaps it’s just that in my time in China I’ve spent the collective sum of days trying to re-align misinformed Chinese about the big country outside their borders called “Foreign” (where we all speak English). Meh… whatever.

The Gumby-like Haibao, for anyone fortunate enough not to be inundated with the campiest of campy mascots, is the official symbol of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 and is an animutation of the character , with a name that could be taken to mean the Treasure of Shanghai () and is explained on the Expo 2010 Shanghai site as thus:

Created from the Chinese character “人” which means people, the mascot embodies the character of Chinese culture and echoes with the designing concept of the emblem of World Expo Shanghai. Using the Chinese character as the mascot of an international event is an innovation.

Hair: the hair of the mascot is like the wave of the sea, which represents its open character and stated the character of its birth place Shanghai.

Face: its cartoon expression shows its confidence and friendly character.

Eye: big, round eyes show his anticipation of the city.

Blue: the color shows its latitude and imagination, which represents the rising and potential China.

Body: its round body represents a well-off life, which is also lovely and cute.

Fist: he thumbs up to show the appreciation and warm welcome to the friends from all over the world.

Big feet: he stands steadily on the big feet and embraces the world with big arms, which shows China have the ability and faith to host a successful Expo.

The structure of Chinese character 人, in which two strokes support each other, manifests the concept that a good life should be created by all the people. The world should be supported by “people,” and people should have harmonious relationships with nature and society, so that the life in cities would be better.

The mascot will surly [sic] become the lucky symbol and cultural remark of Shanghai Expo.


But Shanghai is by no means the only city to have hosted an expo and created a goofy mascot to help market it.

It may have been the first to create a music video for it though. Warning: watching the following has been known to cause brain cell loss in high-functioning humans.

(H/T ChinaTravel.net)


  1. Ryan, its confirmed, the heat is getting to you….

    C’mon this is a bit of a stretch, next thing you’ll be doing is calling for a boycott of Disney’s “Its a Small World” ride…;-)

    Loved the video and being in Shanghai I am truly looking forward to Expo! Will be so much better than the virtual dick measuring contest that the Olympics were ….

    Aint no party like a Shanghai party……

  2. @Kellen: Excellent Darlie burn. 😉 But you’re right Eric, they don’t look THAT bad.

    @John: Absolutely no doubt the heat’s getting to me. Found myself in a field yesterday in my underpants turning in circles, repeating “Kafka, Kafka, Kafka” ;-)JK

    I’ll restate again that these struck me more in the context of repeatedly having to remind Chinese family and friends that the world outside of China doesn’t always fit into the drilled-in stereotypes they’ve grown up with.

    And before anyone jumps down my throat about it – I understand that all the nations of the world suffer from their own stereotyping. But for this Canadian lad, China is a stark contrast.

    I really have no expectations about the Expo – as I don’t really know what the point is. I’m not being facetious or anything… I just really have no idea what it’s all about. In that regard, I’m looking forward to it.

    Don’t get me started on “It’s a Small World” or Disney. 😉

  3. @Ryan…cheers. I too have Chinese in-laws who affectionately refer to 你们老外 “you foreigners” as if myself , a nigerian, a czech, and peruvian can all be lumped into one homogeneous group of others… actual with that thought in mind its almost a blessing that they are stereotyping us, at least then they are differentiating us.

  4. Indian is the best. Who is it representing? American Indians are most likey represented by the cowboy (so wrong) and India indians could be a close tie between turban or mystery Santa Claus with fireworks.

  5. I can’t believe I almost watched the entire video. It looks like they went cheap on the animation budget with the recycling of scenes. Gumby was so much cooler than this knock-off.

    For the record, I can’t help but laugh when I see the Mexican Haibao. And is it just me or does the turban-wearing Haibao look stoned?

  6. Haha right on dude I dig the turban-ified goose-stepping Haibao at the end. He’s totally tripping on opium. Clearly he’s a matter-of-fact representation of Afghanistan.

  7. And I don’t believe it is possible to appreciate that promotional video in a sober state of mind. I suspect that if one were to be totally sloshed, that would be three and a half minutes of indescribable audio-visual bliss.

  8. Pingback: Kondom eller tandpasta: Den mærkelige maskot for verdens mest oversete fest /  KINABLOG.dk

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