Shanghai's $44B Expo Opens After Fireworks, Laser Show
Shanghai’s $44 billion World Expo opens its gates to the public today as China’s richest city prepares to host an estimated 70 million visitors during the six-month long event.
Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the official opening of the expo last night at a ceremony marked by fireworks, a laser show and performances by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and martial-arts film star Jackie Chan. Visiting leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso watched the display from the expo site along the shores of the Huangpu river.
Shanghai, which declared a five-day public holiday for local residents starting yesterday, deployed police to patrol tourist attractions and limited the sale of knives to ensure security. Visitors to the expo are estimated at more than 10 times the number who traveled to Beijing for the Olympics in August 2008.
Last night’s ceremony began with a performance by Chan and Chinese singer Song Zuying before Hu declared the Expo open. Bocelli followed with a rendition of “Nessun Dorma.” The ceremony ended with fireworks set off from the city’s 1,535-feet tall Oriental Pearl Tower.
World expos began with the 1851 World’s Fair in London’s Crystal Palace that showcased the wealth and technological prowess of Europe’s industrialized nations.
They’ve led to the construction of iconic structures, including the Eiffel Tower and Seattle’s Space Needle. The events are now divided into so-called Universal Expos, such as the one in Shanghai, and smaller, more specialized exhibitions.
Shanghai’s expo features exhibits by more than 240 countries, companies and organizations spread over a 5.3 square- kilometer (3.3 square-mile) park.
Traffic across the city’s Nanpu and Lupu bridges and through a tunnel near the expo site was halted for the opening ceremony last night. Pedestrians and vehicles were barred from the Huangpu riverfront and parts of the Lujiazui financial district, home to HSBC Holdings Plc and Citigroup Inc.
A helicopter circled above the Expo park yesterday as armed police patrolled the perimeter and were stationed at ports, airports and railway stations in the city. The local government asked residents to stay home as much as possible during the five-day break to “ensure a smooth operation” for the expo.
The start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was marred by the murder of an American tourist at Beijing’s Drum Tower. The father-in-law of the U.S. men’s indoor volleyball coach was killed in the knife attack a day after the opening ceremony.
Shanghai, home to 20 million people, has a relatively low crime rate, according a notice issued by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on the 2010 World Expo. The threat level for political violence and terrorism against U.S. citizens in China remains low, it said.
City authorities aren’t taking chances. Knives are only sold at government-designated outlets where buyers must register their names before purchasing. Sales of ceramic cutting tools have been banned, according to the city’s police. Expo visitors are barred from taking lighters, matches, alcohol and other drinks into the venues, similar to measures taken during the Olympics.
Shanghai has also prohibited the flying of kites near the Expo park, and 14 types of slow, low-flying objects -- including hot air balloons, paragliders and model airplanes -- are banned from the city and neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, said a statement issued by the city’s public security department.
Residents were told to remove flower pots from balconies and not to hang clothes out to dry. No advertising should be displayed from homes, the government said.
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