Expo shows dazzle visitors

14:05, May 03, 2010      

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File photo of Chinese actress Gong Li. (Xinhua/Agencies Photo)

Screen siren Gong Li showed how Expo 2010 can bring the world closer to China, and vice-versa: As the France Pavilion's new "Charm Ambassador", she accepted France's prestigious Order of the Legion of Honor award during the opening weekend amid festivities and goodwill.

Gong ranks as one of China's most recognizable actresses, and is credited with helping France and much of Europe discover Chinese cinema.

After touring the France pavilion with French actor Alain Delon on Friday, she won over a congregation of VIPs on the closed-off rooftop garden the following afternoon.

"It's been a real love story between me and France for a long time because it was the first country I visited," said Gong, the Chinese face of French cosmetics brand and Shanghai Expo sponsor L'Oreal. She rose to fame 19 years ago in Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern and now serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace and a UN Environmental Program ambassador. Gong became a Singapore citizen in 2008.

Relations between China and France hit a trough in 2008 when protesters attempted to sabotage the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Paris, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama.

But ties began improving recently with Sarkozy meeting President Hu Jintao in Beijing last week before both attended the Expo's exuberant opening ceremony on Friday night.

Friday's fireworks display on the banks of the Huangpu River almost matched the "stamping footprints" of the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in terms of visual pyrotechnics.

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