Shanghai World Expo Bureau held the press conference on April 23 to help testing Expo news center’s operations. Unexpectedly an American female reporter from National Public Radio in Shanghai, Louisa Lim (Lin Mulian 林慕莲) shouted accusations that World Expo mascot Haibao was plagiarized from an American cartoon icon Gumby. She also produced photos as evidence, the scene suddenly turned chaotic.
Reporters and TV stations all quickly snapped pictures of the female reporter, Expo board propaganda Minster Xu Wei who was sitting on the podium at the time became very awkward because of what was happening. Lousia Lim did not spare Xu Wei, she brought out two pictures and also accused that the style of the Chinese exhibition center building was plagiarized from buildings in Japan. Then she picked up the tape recorder and microphone and rushed to the podium, asking Xu Wei for comments on the two plagiarism incidents. At the same time both Chinese and foreign media swarmed in and surrounded the podium.
This speculation was not news, as early as 2007 the creator of Haibao Wu Yongjian (巫永坚) has been questioned by Netizens of the Chinese blogosphere of being influenced by Growing Pains, the classic 80s American TV show which was shown in China in the late 80s and early 90s and became overwhelmingly popular throughout the nation. What’s on the wall of one of the main characters Ben Seaver’s room was this American Cartoon icon, Gumby.
After the news broke out, the original designer Wu Yongjian stated that it is a great insult to throw out arbitrary allegations of plagiarism, he is not ruling out the possibility of taking legal actions against the accuser. He stressed that when he was first designing Haibao, he never have seen the cartoon character Gumby. Just because the creations of art are similar, does not mean we can make random accusations of plagiarism. It is immoral.
Gumby and his friends