How Paul McCartney and Liverpool FC seduced China and in doing so Liverpool is set to reap economic benefits of many millions

L iverpool at Shanghai: The Expo experience 

From Local Economy 

The city of  Liverpool made a bold move in investing in exhibiting at the 2010 World Expo in its twin city of Shanghai, China. Liverpool was the only city in the UKto take the decision to promote itself there.  The city is beginning to reap the benefits both of inward investment, and of a higher profile in, and strengthened relationships with China. Its display at the pavilion included a wall of music, football from Liverpooland Everton football clubs including the opportunity for guests to have a photo taken with soccer stars past and present, and a welcome from Sir Paul McCartney. The ‘Macca message’ was one of more than 80 films created by Liverpool’s River Motion Group and preceded an introductory 3-D film featuring a Chinese dragon and a Liver Bird soaring above Liverpool. During the 184 days that Liverpool’s pavilion was open it welcomed more than 770,000 visitors. This article outlines how this experience has resulted in astounding economic benefits to Liverpool and its region predicted to be anywhere from £5.5m to £47.5m over ten years, from Chinese students and tourists as well as from increased exports and direct foreign investment.


Liverpool was once the second city of the Empire. In the 1960s it created a sound that the world tapped its foot to and sporting achievements that were the envy of Europe. Following years in the doldrums, Liverpool has, in the last decade, undergone a dramatic renaissance. It looks and feels different. This rediscovered swagger has given Liverpool the confidence to tell a new story of heritage and regeneration and to trade again on its name and fame. It is not easy for small cities to attract positive attention. But this article describes how Liverpool made a bold decision, alone among UK cities including London, to sell itself on the biggest stage of all, the 2010 World Expo, in the most economically dynamic city, Shanghai, in a country whose economy is growing faster than any other, China. It examines the motivation, the challenges, the outcomes and the legacy.

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Article details
Taylor, M., & Caswell, J. (2011). Liverpool at Shanghai: The Expo experience Local Economy, 26 (5), 423-430 DOI: 10.1177/0269094211410018

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