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"Little Mermaid" unveiled at Shanghai World Expo

2010. 26 April

Denmark's iconic "Little Mermaid" statue is seen in her new "home" at the Denmark Pavilion in the World Expo Park in Shanghai, east China, on April 25, 2010. (Xinhua/Ren Long)

( Denmark's iconic "Little Mermaid" statue was unveiled for display in the World Exposition Park at the opening ceremony of the Danish Pavilion Sunday.

It's the first time the 1.5-meter landmark, which was made in honor of Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, has left her perch at Copenhagen harbor in almost 100 years.

Troels Lund Poulsen, Danish minister for taxation, said at the ceremony that the famous statue had been brought all the way from Copenhagen to Shanghai to show his country's dedication to China and trust of the Chinese people.

"I sincerely hope that it will be a great experience for the Chinese public to get closer to the 'Little Mermaid'," he said.

Although the ceremony was a closed event, there were still hundreds of Chinese visitors crowding outside the Danish Pavilion to have a look at the world renowned statue.

Yue Yufei, 10, who came from Jiangsu Province to visit the World Expo, said she was lucky to see the "Little Mermaid" on the first day of its display. She has read the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, and also saw a picture of the statue taken by her mother, who visited Denmark in 2005.

"It's so exciting to see it with my own eyes. I've been longing for that since I saw the picture and it's great that I can see it without going abroad," she said.

However, as the pavilion was not open to the public on Sunday, she could only see its back. Her mother Chen Xiaolan said they may come to visit the "Little Mermaid" again after the World Expo begins on May 1.

Bjarke Ingels, chief architect of the Danish Pavilion, said they know that Chinese people grow up with Andersen's fairytales: "The Matchstick Girl," "Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Little Mermaid," and now a lot of them will be able to see the mermaid they read about in school.

"It's almost like a piece of Danish culture being integrated into Chinese culture," he said.

Andersen's works were introduced to China in the early 1900s and are still widely read by Chinese children.

The fishtailed bronze statue is Denmark's most popular tourist attraction. Created by Danish sculpture Edvard Eriksen, the "Little Mermaid" has not moved from her harbor site since she was unveiled there in 1913.

A video installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will replace the "Little Mermaid" when she returns in November. The multimedia artwork will include a live broadcast of the statue in Shanghai.

"If you have anything you want to say to the Danish people, just talk to the 'Little Mermaid'," said Ingels.