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FOREIGN BRIEFING

Shanghai's new terminal

January 06, 2008|Don Lee, | Reuters, Associated Press

1 China

The cosmopolitan city of Shanghai is opening a second terminal early this year at its Pudong International Airport, a three-story glass structure shaped like a bird with open wings. But will it fly with passengers?

Pudong's original, equally magnificent-looking terminal has been an embarrassment.

Built on the cheap and opened in 1999, the terminal has floors that look dull, and the waiting areas offer hard, metallic seats. The movable walkways are too narrow for people to pass. The restrooms are smelly and located downstairs. Escalators will take you down but not back up. Looking for wide food and shopping choices or high-speed wireless Internet? Forget it.

"It's absolutely second rate," says Sydney Chang, a consultant in Shanghai and former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce here.

Shanghai airport authorities declined requests for interviews, but they have been quoted in official Chinese media as saying that the new terminal, part of a $1.2-billion expansion, will channel passengers more efficiently.

About 27 million travelers passed through the airport in 2006, compared with 49 million at Beijing's airport.

Pudong officials responded to complaints from international business groups by saying that the "current problems will be greatly eased" by the new terminal and modifications at the existing terminal, including brighter lighting, English-language signs and an Internet bar.

Camilo Soto of Hacienda Heights, a regular traveler to China, would be happy enough if the restrooms in the new terminal were on the same floor as the waiting area.

"For an old guy like me, carrying luggage and some gifts can be a problem," said the 64-year-old agronomist.

-- Don Lee

2 Britain

"Atlantic Worlds," a new permanent gallery, opened at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. More than 200 exhibits, from the 17th through 19th centuries, explore Britain's role in the slave trade, wars to protect its commercial interests and other topics.

-- Reuters

3 Spain

Plans were announced for a $25-billion, Las Vegas-style casino and entertainment complex near the city of Zaragoza in northeastern Spain.

The project, called Gran Scala and expected to open by 2015, will offer 32 casinos, five theme parks and about 70 hotels, including one modeled after the Pentagon.

-- Associated Press

4 Australia

For the first time in 70 years, a swimmer reported being attacked by a shark at Bondi beach, a popular tourist area in Sydney.

Scott Wright, 34, from the southern state of Tasmania, was bitten on his arm by a small shark, local newspapers reported.

-- Reuters

Caution spots

The State Department recently issued warnings or announcements for these areas:

5 Bolivia

Bolivia, because of the potential for political unrest related to the drafting of a new constitution.

6 Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, because of the continued presence of terrorist groups that may target Western interests.

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