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Shanghai shines

2010. 3 May

Fireworks illuminate the sky during the opening ceremony of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai on Friday. World leaders gathered in Shanghai as the city kicked off the World Expo with a star-studded opening ceremony that ended with skies over the city set ablaze in a massive fireworks show. Photo: AFP

by Sajjadur Rahman

( By any chance you step in China, the enthusiasm and festivity everywhere will not spare your eyes.

It is something big, or to be precise it all happens centring a mega event in Shanghai, commercial hub of the world's third largest economy.

This is World Expo 2010. Buildings, hotels and restaurants all around have been decorated colourfully. The government and people see it as 'no less than the Olympics 2008'.

“It's just like the Beijing Olympics,” said Kang Bing, deputy chief editor of the influential China Daily. The daily publishes special pages on the expo.

Over 150 journalists from different countries have gathered in Shanghai to cover the extravaganza which China has promised to be more impressive than all the previous ones in its history of over one and half centuries.

The exposition has been on since Saturday, which coincided historic May Day. President Hu Jintao opened it. It was a red-letter day as the show is being hosted by a developing country for the first time after 159 years. The United Kingdom organised the first such an exposition in London in 1851.

The presence of nine out of the 10 Chinese top policymakers, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and leaders of dozens of other countries have added a dimension to the second the World Expo.

This is an exposition where numerous inventions are introduced. These inventions changed the history of mankind, which include electric light, telephone, automobile and the rocket ship.

The number of participants this time is 242 -- 192 countries and 50 international organisations which is the highest-ever. And the number of visitors is expected to be around 70 million, nearly half the population of Bangladesh.

The theme of the Shanghai world Expo 2010 is Better City, Better Life, embodying the mankind's desire for a better urban development. The design for all of its pavilions epitomises dream cities. Designers used creative and advanced environmental protection technologies in building the pavilions.

China has spent over $50 billion, of which $45 billion has been spent on building infrastructure. Lakhs of tonnes of steel are used.

Common people, particularly the Shanghainese, eye a brisk business from the show, which will continue up to October 31.

“We expect that a good number of foreign tourists will visit Shanghai this time,” said Zhang Ji Fu, general manager of Central Hotel in Shanghai.

Hotels and restaurants already recruited new guys to serve the people visiting the expo.

“We see the number of foreigners arriving is more than the usual,” said Zhung Lee, an waiter of a restaurant at Oriental Pear TV Tower, a revolving 468-metre high building.

During a press briefing on April 28, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun was very upbeat on the event.

“For the rest of the world it is an opportunity to know China better. We'll also get the chance of knowing other nations in the world,” he said.

The minister also hoped that mutual understanding and trust would deepen this time.

He identified four benefits of the Shanghai Expo. Inter-dependence between regional countries will grow despite globalisation, Zhijun thinks. Besides, economic and trade cooperation will be strengthened.

The trust among common people will also be increased through further cooperation in the fields of science, technology, education and culture, the minister hoped.

The pavilions of different countries in the Shanghai show depict their future vision of urbanisation.

For example, Hong Kong has adopted the theme 'Hong Kong Potential Unlimited' to show how its people fully utilise their limited land resources.

The 160,000 square metres Chinese pavilion symbolises the cohesion of the diversified people. Japan makes its pavilion look like a purple.