It is with great sadness that the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has learnt that its Honorary President, Ambassador Wu Jianmin, died in a car accident on 18 June 2016. A seasoned Chinese diplomat whose career spanned 57 years, Ambassador Wu served as President of the BIE for two terms between 2003 and 2007.
Ambassador Wu’s engagement in Expos, which started when China launched its successful bid to host Expo 2010 in Shanghai, epitomised his diplomatic style which favoured cultural understanding and multilateral cooperation for the advancement of mankind. As the first President of the BIE from Asia and from a developing country, Ambassador Wu actively supported efforts for Expos to be organised in the developing world, and was strident in his support for the role that Expos play in the betterment of the world and the well-being of humanity.
Ambassador Wu was an advocate of dialogue and understanding in international politics, which stemmed from his first job within the Chinese Foreign Ministry as a translator for political leaders. Throughout his career he continued to be an ardent supporter of multilateralism and fostering cultural ties between nations, a belief that he put to the service of Expos. For him, “Expos belong to the whole world. People from different countries talk to each other, learn from each other, make friends, and pave the way for cooperation. This is wonderful” (Expo 2005 Aichi, closing ceremony). It was by putting this vision into practice that Ambassador Wu made such an impression on his contemporaries – by talking to them, learning from them and making friends with them.
Even after stepping down as President of the BIE, Ambassador Wu continued to play an active role in Expos, remaining as Honorary President and serving on the BIE international jury at Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Expo 2012 in Yeosu and most recently at Expo 2015 in Milan. He also remained active in diplomatic circles, becoming the head of the Beijing Foreign Affairs University, known as the ‘cradle of diplomats’, and continuing to speak in favour of openness and cooperation between nations.
Wu Jianmin will be deeply missed by BIE members and staff, and by many others who had the chance to work with him during his long involvement with Expos. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.