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Preview and schedule: China-South Asia Expo

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The arrival of summer in Kunming is heralded by two things, the start of the rainy season and, in recent years, the plastering up of tens of thousands of fliers, posters and handbills announcing the coming of the city's twin trade extravaganzas. Once again expected to dwarf previous incarnations, the fourth China-South Asia Expo (CSAEXPO) and the twenty-fourth Kunming Import and Export Fair (KIEF) will be held simultaneously June 12-17.

The expos take place each year with the intention of attracting greater foreign business interest and interaction with Yunnan-based companies. This principal goal is part of a larger strategy to build up the province's economy while also increasing China's political and commercial footprint in Southeast Asia and beyond — all "in line", as official pronouncements go, "with [China's] Belt and Road Initiative".

Building upon previous successes, three years ago KIEF was coupled with the first China-South Asia Expo, and a trade behemoth was born. Reflecting the twin festivals' ever-increasing size and importance, this year, as with last, both will be held at a purpose-built facility — the enormous Kunming Dianchi Convention and Exhibition Center (昆明滇池国际会展中心).

Records for both attendance and overall participation were shattered last year, and event organizers expect similar results in 2016. Liu Qilin (刘琪琳), of the Yunnan Bureau of International Affairs, told reporters "the exhibition space this year has been enlarged by 40 percent, and we expect foreign participants to increase by 50 percent over last year".

In total, nearly 750,000 people turned out for the expos in 2015, and this year could see such numbers eclipse one million. To ensure planned events go smoothly and attendees do not find themselves lost amidst the labyrinthine confines of the exhibition center, 1,200 bilingual college students are currently attending "intensive training courses" before acting as volunteers. More are expected to receive similar instruction before the expos begin.

To help facilitate greater participation in 2016, and encourage more of the world's top 500 companies to attend, organizers have updated an existing bilingual website. They have also produced an English-language downloadable PDF document, which includes an extensive contact list as well as printable applications for both exhibitors and buyers. Organizers are also actively looking for people who would like to attend and contribute to the Seminar on the Development of Chinese Free Trade Areas, held June 12. Interested parties should contact Zhang Xinyu (Sarah) by calling 18987878838.

While exhibition halls are open to the general public June 14-17, many other activities are planned. Below are the combined schedules for CSAEXPO and KIEF, including associated events falling outside of the twin expos' official six-day running time. The name and date of each seminar, ceremony and forum are listed, followed by the name of the person in charge of booking and their respective telephone numbers. Please note that these functions are open only to people securing an invitation in advance. Those interested in attending any of these events are encouraged to book as soon as possible.

Official Schedule

June 10-13: Fourteenth Annual ASEAN Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs Conference (contact Mr. Liao: 63326639 or Ms Huang: 65152784)
June 12: Opening Ceremony
June 12: Fascinating Guizhou: A Heaven of Myriad Mountains Tourism Promotion (contact Mr An: 86825239)
June 12: Seminar on the Development of Chinese Free Trade Areas (contact Ms Li: 67125307)
June 12-13: Fourth Annual China-South Asia Think-Tank Forum (contact Mr Wang: 64142908)
June 12-14: Eleventh Annual China-South Asia Business Forum (call 63138324 or 63163396)
June 12-14: Second Annual Forum on Collaborative Innovation and Technological Transfers (contact Ms Shang: 63113686)
June 12-15: Eighth Annual Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Corridor Week (contact Mr Liu: 63156990)
June 13: Business Projects Signing Ceremony (contact Ms Chen: 67195593)
June 13: Yunnan Entrepreneurs Forum (contact Mr Mao: 63210024)
June 13-14: Forum on International Production Capacity Cooperation (contact Mr Zhang: 63113514)
June 13-16: Conference on International Professionals Exchange (contact Ms Chen: 63630539)
June 13-16: Meeting of the BCIM Economic Corridor Chambers of Commerce (contact Ms Li: 63631833)
June 14: Forum on Cross-Border Tourism Cooperation (contact Mr Shen: 64608358)
June 14: Forum on China-Korea Business Cooperation (contact Mr Wu: 63166890)

Ticketing and transportation information

Because of the expected traffic congestion associated with the expos, eight dedicated bus lines will be put into service for the duration of the trade fairs to augment the existing 14 lines currently serving stops near the exhibition center. A complete list of the existing and newly added bus lines can be found here in Chinese. Advance tickets for the expos go on sale June 1. They can be purchased at the event venue, or at any China Post location for 30 yuan. Tickets are also available online for the same price.

Top and bottom images: Yereth Jansen

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