No more Mickey-Mousing around: China is set to announce a Disney theme park in Shanghai.
HONG KONG -- In addition to having hundreds of schoolchildren wave vivid red flowers to welcome United States President Barack Obama at the airport for his first state visit in mid-November, the Chinese government has also prepared a huge gift for this very special friend -- a $3.6 billion Disney theme park contract.
Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said Sunday that the city government will unveil its decision, as soon as this week, to build Walt Disney ( DIS - news - people )'s first theme park in mainland China.
Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said Sunday that the city government will unveil its decision, as soon as this week, to build Walt Disney's first theme park in mainland China.
"There is much to talk about this issue," Han told reporters on Sunday after the closing ceremony of 21st International Business Leaders' Advisory Council, adding "The Shanghai municipal government will soon hold a media briefing to announce the latest news on the Disney project."
A source familiar with the situation told Reuters last week that China's National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, had already given approval to the project. The timing for the Shanghai government's announcement may coincide with President Obama's first state visit to China, from November 15 to 18. His first overnight stop is Shanghai.
China isn't approving the Disney project just to "give face" to President Obama, but to add to Shanghai's attraction as a tourist destination. At a press conference on Sunday, Han said there are still uncertainties and obstacles hindering Shanghai's recovery from the global financial crisis. "For instance, Shanghai's import and export contributed to 25% of China's total international trade, yet the trading figures of Shanghai have been tumbling to the negative zone in the past 12 months since last November," First Business News on Monday cited Han as saying.
Han stressed Shanghai should continue its transformation from a trading port to a service-oriented economy. The green light for Shanghai Disney will help Shanghai further develop its hotels and the tourism industry.