PERFECT NIGHT TRANQUILITY: The photo shows the night scene at the Expo site on September 17 (GUO XIAOYONG)
The 184-day 2010 World Expo in Shanghai came to an end with a spectacular closing ceremony on the evening of October 31, which was attended by a host of world leaders.
The first Expo staged in a developing country in the event's 159-year history, the Expo in Shanghai attracted 246 participating countries and international organizations and 73 million visitors. Both figures are Expo records.
In an area of 5.28 square km, the Expo site became a global village where people could not only see rare cultural treasures from around the world, but also got a taste of the diversity of the world's cultures through more than 20,000 cultural performances.
Speaking at a forum on the final day of the Expo, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the Shanghai extravaganza had added a glorious chapter to the Expo history. He noted that it was the first time that it had been hosted in the center of a mega city, which posed a severe test for organizers.
MOVING TO MILAN: Heads of the International Exhibitions Bureau receive the bureau's flag from Shanghai representatives before handing it to representatives of Milan, the host city of the next World Expo in 2015, at the closing ceremony of the Expo in Shanghai on October 31 (WANG XIANG)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also attended the opening plenary of the forum, which was held at the Expo Center with the theme of Urban Innovation and Sustainable Development. He acknowledged the great efforts China made in hosting the event. He told the forum that the Chinese Government and Shanghai City deserved the highest praise.
"With this Expo, Shanghai has secured its reputation as one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities," Ban said. "Along the way, it has completed a transformation many years in the making."
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said the Expo had brought China and the rest of the world closer together. He added that a more open, inclusive and culturally advanced China would join other countries to usher in a brighter future for all. He also said the Expo spirit would be carried forward from this generation to the next.
"I am convinced that the vision of 'Better City, Better Life' will become reality," said Wang at the closing ceremony.
Jean-Pierre Lafon, President of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), said the Expo in Shanghai was an "astounding success."
"Shanghai has shown us that with a talented organization, a will to succeed and an excellent international communications campaign, anything is possible," he said.
Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said, "This event has been a great success. I've been to China many times; this time, I was once again surprised to see how Shanghai has changed with its new infrastructure."
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said, "The World Expo has shown us the strong link between China and the rest of the world. We are very proud of the efforts made by our compatriots at the World Expo."
Sir Andrew Kahn, chief executive of UK Trade and Investment and the man behind Britain's award-winning involvement in the Expo, said that the Expo has put Shanghai firmly into the league of world-class cities.
"There is a lot of new infrastructure. Shanghai's infrastructure is now world class," he said. "The Expo has given a new confidence to Shanghai, and there is a spring in the step to the city. So I think it has had a hugely beneficial success for Shanghai, particularly commercially."
According to China Daily, from May to October Shanghai's air traffic, hotel and catering revenue, and contractual foreign investment grew by 34 percent, 16.8 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, year on year.
The "astounding success" of the World Expo in Shanghai is shown by more than its record attendance of 73 million people, surpassing the previous record of 64 million visitors who attended the 1970 fair in Osaka, Japan. Moreover, many believe that the Expo helped to promote cross-cultural communication and understanding.