China CeBIT show postponed on SARS fears

By Martyn Williams

IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

Add CeBIT Home Electronics, scheduled to take place in Shanghai in China, to the list of Asian electronics shows and conventions on hold due to fears over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The show’s organizers, Hannover Messe AG, said this week that the show will not be going ahead as planned. It was scheduled to take place from May 14 to 17 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. The show is one of six that have already been put on hold at the centre, which says it is postponing almost all exhibitions scheduled for May and June on the back of a local government order.

The exhibition centre is also scheduled to be home to CeBIT Asia from Sept. 18 to 21 this year and at present no decision has been made on the postponement of events later than June.

Earlier this week two much larger Asian electronics expos, Taiwan’s Computex and Singapore’s CommunicAsia, fell victim to concerns over SARS. The Taiwan event, which ranks as one of the world’s largest electronics shows, was postponed to later in the year while CommunicAsia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest telecommunications event, was cancelled.

Other events, such as Intel’s Developer Forum conferences for Taiwan and China and Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Sun Network 2003 in Shanghai have also been cancelled due to the SARS outbreak.

China accounts for the majority of recorded cases of SARS, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). The country, excluding Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, has seen 3,638 cases as of May 1 compared to the global total of 5,865 cases. China has seen 170 fatalities as of the same day.

SARS will be a major discussion point at an APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) trade minister’s meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, in June, the organization said Friday. At the meeting trade ministers are expected to agree on a joint course of action to help rebuild business confidence in the region. APEC itself has already postponed 23 of its own meetings because of SARS.

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