SHANGHAI — To Americans, he looks like a cross between Gumby and a tooth.
To the Chinese people, he's the character that means "people."
It's Haibao, symbol of Shanghai World Expo 2010, the big exposition that opened May 1 and runs through October.
And his image is everywhere.
Official merchandise stores for the Expo are in multiple locations, even the airport. You can buy Haibao dolls, keychains, magnets, candy boxes, books. Big Haibao statues are all over town.
The Expo is expected to attract 70 million visitors, 93 percent of them Chinese.
The sprawling site on both sides of hazy Shanghai's Huangpu River is dominated by a big red inverse pyramid that is the China pavilion.
Like world expositions before it, such as Expo '67 Montreal and the Chicago World Exposition of 1933, it's devoted to displays of new inventions and the grandness of human technical endeavor. This Expo's theme is improving life for urban dwellers. That's important in China, which has 130 cities of more than 1 million . (The United States in comparison has 10 cities that large.)
A record 185 countries are participating, as are major U.S.-based corporate sponsors like Dow Chemical and General Motors, which is partnering with Chinese automaker SAIC to show off electric vehicles.
The American ticket source for the Shanghai Expo is Peregrine Travel Group (www.worldexpochina.net). If you are in China during the Expo, you should be able to buy tickets at a kiosk there.