After six months of showcasing China’s rise in the world, the World Expo in Shanghai is at its end. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao described the fair as “splendid”, saying it “truly brought together people around the globe”.
According to officials, 72 millions people, most of them from across China, visited pavilions staged by more than 240 countries and organisations.
In order to prepare for the fair, China spent some $60bn, which is more than what was spent on the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
But the Shanghai government only confirms that its budget for the fair was $4.2bn.
The World Expo started on 1 May. Chinese officials then said that it was an opportunity to promote the country’s “soft power”, to show off its growing influence in the world.
Denmark’s famous Little Mermaid sculpture, impressionist paintings from the Louvre at France’s pavilion and entertainment by Canada’s Cirque du Soleil were some of the highlights of the Expo.
‘Experience the whole world’
The majority of the visitors have been ordinary Chinese from around the country, and they often had to queue for hours in order to see some of the most popular pavilions.
“Thanks to the Expo, people like me who never would have a chance to go abroad can experience the whole world,” Zou Aiguo, a pensioner from China’s Jiangxi province, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
The site itself is twice the size of Monaco, straddling both sides of the Huangpu river in the city centre.
Shanghai wanted to make the event a green one, keeping with its theme “Better City, Better Life”. Therefore the city has been using electric buses and cars and installed energy-saving air conditioning and water filters.
“The Shanghai Expo will close soon but it will not be forgotten,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
“Let us keep the Shanghai vision alive in our discussions and our lifestyles.”
Although the World Expo attracted many visitors, the event did not please everyone in Shanghai. Some local residents complained that they had been forced out of old housing in order to make way for the Expo site.