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Shanghai Expo Closes, China Calls it Splendid Success


Chinese dancers perform during the closing ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in Shanghai, China, 31 Oct 2010

Chinese dancers perform during the closing ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in Shanghai, China, 31 Oct 2010

A record number of visitors went to the Shanghai Expo, which officially closed Sunday.

With a few words, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declared the end of the Shanghai Expo.

Jean Pierre Lafon, the President of the International Exhibitions Bureau, the organization that oversees the world expos, called the Shanghai Expo a complete success. He delighted the audience at the closing ceremony by making his comments in Chinese.

Lafon says the Expo is also China's success.

The Chinese government says 73 million visitors came to the Shanghai Expo, a record-breaking number.

The six-month public exhibition included pavilions showcasing different countries and international organizations. The variety of cultures and technologies on display were aimed at illustrating different ideas for urban sustainability.

Most of the visitors were Chinese, many from the countryside, and for many it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to directly encounter foreign places and people.

At a ceremony earlier in the day, Premier Wen praised the fair as a "splendid event."

Wen called the Expo a "severe test" for China and for Shanghai. He pointed out that this is the first Expo held by a developing country, and that it took place under the shadow of the international financial crisis.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who also spoke at the Expo event, praised it for promoting international understanding.

"At this great world plaza, China has brought nations together, celebrated global diversity, inspired the world with feats of architectural design, rich intellectual exhibitions and a rich multi-cultural mosaic of visitors," he said.

China spent billions of dollars on the event, and many billions more to improve transportation and other public facilities in Shanghai.

Some residents were forced out of their old housing to make way for the expo, which took up a nearly six-square-kilometer area along Shanghai's Huangpu River. All but a few of the more than 200 structures built for the Shanghai Expo will be dismantled and recycled or disposed of otherwise. Some pavilions will be moved elsewhere to serve as museums or landmarks.

The first World Exposition was in London in 1851, which marked the coming Industrial Revolution.

The next two upcoming expos are in the South Korean port city of Yeosu in 2012, and the Italian city of Milan, in 2015.

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