In the Chinese calendar, this is the Year of the Monkey.But for those doing business with China, it could be called the "Year of the Trade Show." China and the United States will be trading trade shows this fall, with a display of American industry in Peking in November and a show of Chinese industry, culture, and arts traveling to three US cities from September to December.
Although the trade shows are part of a joint US-China agreement, they will be as different as the countries they represent.
In addition to examples of Chinese industry, the show in the US will feature displays of Chinese cooking where chefs from Peking will show people what Chinese cooking is really like (chop suey is not Chinese), and demonstrations of Chinese arts and crafts where people can buy the results.
For those interested in Chinese art, the first showing of contemporary Chinese artists will be on display where they can be compared with some examples of older Chinese art forms. Chinese craftsmen will be on hand to carve jade and bamboo and complete highly complicated versions of paper cutouts. There will even be some Chinese acrobats.
In China, however, the US show will be almost entirely industrial, with emphasis on farm, transportation, petroleum, textile, and power generation equipment. The Peking show will feature some of the biggest representatives of American industry, including Boeing, Lockheed, Internatinal Harvester, General Motors, and John Deere.
The reciprocal shows are the result of the Sino-Us Trade Exhibitions Agreement, signed last May by then-Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps and Li Qiang, China's minister of foreign trade.
The exhibit in Peking, running from Nov. 17 to 28, is the first exclusive US industrial show in the People's Republic of China, a Commerce Department officials said.
All the Chinese at that show, says Brian Reardon, manager of sales to socialist countries for International Harvester, will be invited and they will have a reason for being there -- they will be customers, or potential customers, at least. They may be officials of communes responsible for selecting farm equipment, or local district, or national government officials who might be ordering equipment. The "man on the street" will have to stay on the street.
The US shows, by contrast, while limited to industry representatives from 10 a.m. to noon, will be open to the general public from noon to 9 p.m. Adults can get in for $4; tickets for children are $2.
"This is the first time China has had a major trade fair in the United States ," said Arne de Keijzer, and official of the China Exhibition Corporation, manager of the US shows.
The Chinese exhibit, officially called the Exhibition of the People's Republic of China, will be held at Fort Mason in San Francisco from Sept. 13 to 28, at Navy Pier in Chicago from Oct. 25 to Nov. 9, and at the New York city Coliseum from Dec. 6 to 21. The US National Exhibition will be held in Peking from Nov. 17 to 28.
For the American companies who bring their products to Peking, the results could be well worth the trip.
"We expect to gain an increased awareness and a higher level of recognition on the part of officials of the People's Republic," Stephen Newhouse, a spokesman for Caterpillar Tractor Company, said. The Company expects to see people who are mainly interested in buying or, at least, learning more about the firm and "not a lot of people just kicking tires," Mr. Newhouse said.
More than a quarter million visitors are expected at the Peking show, he added.
While these exhibits are one-shot affairs for now, officials from the agencies and industries involved hope they can be continued somehow and made into a regular exchange of trade shows.