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Speech by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Reception to Celebrate the Opening of 2010 Shanghai World Expo

(30 April 2010, Chinese Embassy in the UK)

Mr Ian Pearson, Economic Secretary to the Treasury,

My Lord Mayor,

My Lords,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In about 15 minutes, the 41st World Exposition will open in Shanghai. I would like to thank all of you for coming to the Chinese Embassy to share this exciting moment with us.

Britain is home of the World Exposition. In 1851, The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was held in the Crystal Palace – and was the first ever World Expo.

China's participation in the Great Exhibition was a big success. This success was captured by British artist Henry Selous, who included a Chinese merchant in the painting 'The Opening of the Great Exhibition', and by the Illustrated London News, which included the Chinese booth in its seven-metre-long panoramic illustration of the event.

But to round off the successes, Shanghai merchant Xu Rongcun won a medal for 12 packs of Huzhou silk, which he had sent by post.

159 years and 40 World Expos have passed since then. The Expo has grown in scale and influence, taking forward technical innovations and bearing witness to human progress. From ice-cream cones, bottled water and electric lamps, to lifts, cars and aircraft, – all of these have emerged from Expos to become part of our daily lives.

The themes of the Expo have also evolved, moving gradually from industrial strength, scientific and technological breakthroughs to where they are today, thinking about the future and the need for a harmonious coexistence between man and nature.

This is the first World Expo held in a developing country, and is another major global gathering in China following the Beijing Olympics back in 2008. It will be another close contact between China and the rest of the world in a 184-day long dialogue between nations. It will enable China to understand the world better and help the world to know China and Shanghai more and help foster greater friendship among the people.

In the eight years of preparations for this Expo, Shanghai and in fact all of China has been working hard to stage a successful, splendid and memorable Expo. We have drawn upon the wisdom and experience of participating nations and groups, to ensure its success.

The Shanghai Expo will be the largest to date, with 246 countries and international organizations taking part and 13,000 journalists covering it. During the Expo 188 National Days and 39 Honorary Days for International Organizations will be observed. Along with over 20,000 cultural events, it is expected to attract 70 million visitors, three and a half million of which will be coming from overseas.

Under the theme of Better City, Better Life, the Shanghai Expo represents a reflection on building cities for the future. As Aristotle said, "People come to cities for a living, and live in cities for a better life." Cities have brought better life for people, but they have also bred population explosion, traffic congestion, environmental pollution, resource depletion and friction between cultures.

The Shanghai Expo seeks to embody green, environmentally friendly and low carbon life in the cities. The participating countries and international organizations will fully demonstrate their achievements in urban development and share their experience in municipal management, by promoting new models for human habitation, life and work.

As the largest economic centre in China, Shanghai is an example of successful development following 32 years of reform and opening-up. The Chinese Pavilion Crown of the East showcases 5,000 years of the Chinese civilization. But the two million municipal and 200,000 expo volunteers are without doubt the best advertisement for the city. And Expo Families will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to mingle with the ordinary citizens and appreciate their local culture.

We hope that the Expo will present to the world a true and objective insight into dynamic China, a China that stands for peaceful development and mutual benefit achieved through cooperation among all nations.

The Shanghai Expo provides an opportunity for closer trade and investment ties between China and the UK, along with greater scientific and technological cooperation. The British Pavilion, known as the Pavilion of Creativity, or the Seed Cathedral, has been given the interesting name of Dandelion by Chinese internet users. Both the architectural design and interior decoration of the Pavilion have shown extraordinary creativity and demonstrated Britain's rich experience and vision.

The British government, business and society at large have taken an active part in the Shanghai Expo. I am also told that there will be more than a hundred events involving British businesses during the Expo, including:

• the Financial Week,

• Creative Industry series,

• And Science and Innovation Workshops, along with a rich variety of cultural and technological shows.

Rebecca Miller, a 20-year-old British girl from Newcastle, who now lives in Shanghai and hosts Learning Chinese in Fun on local TV, was full of expectations about the Shanghai Expo. She said, "Many people from my hometown have never been in China. I really hope they will come and see it during the Expo."

This is also what we hope and look forward to. The 2010 Expo is for Shanghai, for China, but more importantly it is an Expo for the world.

I hope that between now and the 31 October, you will have the chance to visit the Expo, to get to know Shanghai, get a taste of China and know more about the world.

Thank you.