Shanghai World Expo's fond farewell

08:28, November 01, 2010      

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Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan (center) and Olympic 110m hurdle gold medalist Liu Xiang (in red), together with volunteers and performers, attend the closing ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai on Sunday night. Pang Xinglei / Xinhua

The curtain dropped on Expo 2010 on Sunday night with a heart-warming closing ceremony attended by a host of world leaders.

Since its opening in May, more than 73 million people - a record for the extravaganza - visited displays by 189 countries during the half-year culture and technology showcase that provided snapshots of the world to Chinese and foreign visitors.

Premier Wen Jiabao praised Expo on Sunday as a "splendid event" that "truly brought together people around the globe".

Shanghai achieved its goal of bolstering the economy and cemented its reputation as an international financial center and a city of world stature as China, still basking in the glow of its successful staging of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, showcased its mounting political and economic clout.

The closing ceremony brought a formal end to a journey that started in December 2002, when Shanghai won the bid for the cultural gala. From that moment on, numerous workers and officials raced against the clock to give the world the 184-day wonder.

The Expo, with the theme "Better City, Better Life", displayed a number of global cultural treasures including the bronze chariot and horse sculpture from China's Warring States Period (475-221 BC), the statue of Athena from Greece and French impressionist masterpieces.

Other highlights included Denmark's famed "Little Mermaid" sculpture, a rooftop cable car ride above a replica Alpine meadow at the Swiss pavilion, and entertainment courtesy of Canada's Cirque du Soleil.

The Shanghai extravaganza had added a glorious chapter to the event's history, Wen said in an address to Sunday's Expo Summit Forum on Urban Innovation and Sustainable Development.

He noted that it was the first time that Expo was hosted by a developing country, and also the first time that it had been hosted in the center of a mega city, which posed a severe test for organizers.

"The World Expo is above national, ethnic and religious boundaries," he said.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "Since May of this year, all around the world, people have been talking about a remarkable, even historic event."

He told the forum that Shanghai had "secured its reputation as one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities".

"Along the way, it has completed a transformation many years in the making," he said.

At the closing ceremony on Sunday night in the shell-shaped Expo Cultural Center, Wen officially declared the closure of the Expo.

The flag of the International Exhibitions Bureau was lowered and handed over to Milan, Italy, the host city of the next Universal Expo in 2015.

The ceremony was followed by a joyful and heart-warming gala that saw celebrities, including Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan, singing together with visually impaired children.

Amid a chorus of tenors, performers wearing costumes in the shape of pavilions provided a reminder of the memorable exhibitions, which celebrated human endeavor in making the planet a more livable place.

The gala also highlighted the spirit of voluntarism, which saw 600,000 volunteers, mainly college students, work in the Expo Garden while millions of others served around the city.

Staff of pavilions from all around the world also showed their talent by joining a rendition of world-famous songs in English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese to celebrate a global community of cultural diversity.

The 73 million who managed to get to the event surpassed the previous record of 64.21 million visitors who attended the 1970 fair in Osaka, Japan.

The 5.2 square kilometer Expo zone handled an average of 370,000 visitors daily, and a record 1.03 million on Oct 16.

The next International Expo, in 2012, will be in the South Korean port city of Yeosu, with a similar theme of "Green Growth, Blue Economy," or marine-based sustainability.

After that the Expo will move to the Italian city of Milan in 2015, for the Universal Expo with a focus on food safety and security.

Wu Yiyao contributed to this story.

By Wang Zhenghua, China Daily


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