Shanghai bids farewell to massive World Expo fair

Visitors at Britain's pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. Photo: 29 October 2010
Image caption An overwhelming majority of the visitors of the fair have been ordinary Chinese

Shanghai is bidding farewell to the World Expo - a six-month event showcasing China's rise in the world.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao described the fair as "splendid", saying it "truly brought together people around the globe".

Officials say a record 72m people - most of them from across China - visited pavilions staged by more than 240 countries and organisations.

China has reportedly spent some $60bn (£37bn) preparing for the fair.

The figure - mentioned in Chinese state media - is more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

However, the Shanghai government only confirms that its budget for the fair was $4.2bn.

'Experiencing the world'

Chinese officials said at the opening of the World Expo on 1 May that it was an opportunity to promote the country's "soft power" - to show off its growing influence in the world.

Highlights of the events included Denmark's famous Little Mermaid sculpture, impressionist paintings from the Louvre at France's pavilion, entertainment by Canada's Cirque du Soleil and many others.

The majority of the visitors have been ordinary Chinese from around the country, who often had to queue for hours 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 huge, twice the size of Monaco, straddling both sides of the Huangpu river in the city centre.

Aiming to make the event a green one in keeping with its theme "Better City, Better Life", Shanghai has been using electric buses and cars and installed energy-saving air conditioning and water filters around the city.

"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."

However, not everyone in Shanghai has been pleased by the event, with some local residents complaining that they had been forced out of old housing to make way for the Expo site.

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