China is one of 145 countries participating at Expo Milan 2015, a global commercial fair from May to October. The Chinese pavilion is the second largest foreign pavilion at the exhibition showcasing agriculture, food supply and the long history of Chinese catering culture.

This is the first time that China participates with a self-built pavilion in a Expo abroad and IBTimes UK spoke to architect Lu Yichen about the ideas behind its design.

The expo's theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" highlights agriculture and food developments and attending countries are expected to showcase the best of their technology to feed and sustain the world's growing population. One of China's contributions to the theme is a hybrid rice, developed by Yuan Longping, with almost twice the output of normal rice.

But China not only showcases new approaches to nutrition, the country's pavilion itself is also built following newest environmental standards.

This focus on sustainability is part of a bigger shift in Chinese awareness for environmental issues. In November 2014, the United States and China reached a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with China agreeing to cap its output by 2030 or earlier. It has also promised to increase its use of zero-emission energy sources.

According to exhibitors at the event, China's economy will only be able to provide food and work for its 1.4 billion people if its industry becomes more sustainable.

China's presence at the Milan Expo raises hope for long term environmental improvements in the world's second largest economy but the recent economic slowdown brings up the question whether China will be able to follow up its promises with actions.