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The forefront of exploration
2010. 22 February
World Expo 2010 Shanghai will raise the curtain in May on a six-month attraction to dazzle the world. More than 200 countries and regions will exhibit the splendor of their distinctive cultures and pioneering ideas. The towering red-domed China Pavilion will showcase the beautiful landscapes of our country, the brilliance of Chinese culture and the evolution of our social progress. It will be a golden opportunity for residents in Shanghai, the Yangtze River Delta region and all other parts of China to enjoy a global pageant without traveling overseas.
"That friends should come to one from afar, is this not after all delightful?" This famous saying of Confucius echoes our heartfelt wishes. We are ready to welcome our friends and guests from across the world.
In the 1930s, Shanghai was an Oriental metropolis famed for its international-style buildings. However, that prosperity was based on settlements leased by foreign powers like Britain, France and Japan. The feasting, revelries, luxuries and dazzling neon lamps of that era could not gloss over the sprawling slums and abject poverty of most Shanghai residents. The city at that time was a paradise for only a privileged few.
Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, China shook off the tribulations of the past and ushered in a new era of prosperity. The first 30 years after the founding of the People's Republic of China witnessed astonishing advances, followed by even more in the next 30 years, after China initiated its policies of opening to the outside world and reforming its economy. Today it stands as one of the strongest countries in the world. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games were a monument to the New China. The Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and especially the splendid opening ceremony left an indelible imprint on the world. This great sporting event, which lasted 14 days, is now followed by the spectacular 184-day World Expo Shanghai.
To welcome the world, Shanghai has expanded its subway network to 400 kilometers, deployed electricity multiple units linking it with other cities and upgraded 1,600 buses. The city has also been reinventing its urban image by the day. It will greet guests from around the world with its blue sky, clear water, flourishing street trees, neat buildings, bustling commercial centers, towering skyscrapers, and bridges and tunnels - all designed to illustrate the theme of "Better City, Better Life."
There will also be tens of thousands of volunteers extending a warm hand of welcome to visitors who face language barriers in an unfamiliar place. As Shanghai residents, we are determined to be impeccable hosts and cultural ambassadors to people of different cultures.
The above comments are my heartfelt thoughts as a resident of the host city. Since I am also a scientist who has specialized in astronomic research for decades, I would like also to share some of my thoughts from the perspective of a scientist.
Although there is no direct relationship between astronomic research and the World Expo, I think the fact that Shanghai was selected as a host city for the first time in the 150-year history of world expositions is a tribute to the strength of our country. Astronomers contribute to that strength.