May 1, 2010 in Nation/World

Shanghai opens 2010 World Expo

Star-studded kickoff features fireworks, lasers
Christopher Bodeen Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

People take photos as fireworks explode on the Oriental Pearl TV Tower during a firework show after the Opening Ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai’s Pudong area, China, on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

SHANGHAI, China – A proud Shanghai threw open the gates of the 2010 World Expo today, kicking off an event that underscores the Chinese financial hub’s comeback as a major world city after decades of Spartan industrialism following the 1949 communist revolution.

Like the 2008 Olympics, the World Expo is showcasing China’s growing economic and geopolitical sway, both for the world and for its own public.

Following a gala fireworks, fountains and laser-light celebration Friday night, dignitaries gathered today to declare the Expo open in a much less grandiose ceremony.

“Everything starts at the World Expo and all things come together at the Expo site,” said Jia Qinglin, the Communist Party’s No. 4 ranking leader.

Gates opened to what was expected to be a relatively limited number of ticket holders – all those not holding May 1 tickets were told to stay away because they would not be admitted.

Friday night’s star-studded indoor festivities included action star Jackie Chan, Japanese singer Shinji Tanimura, concert pianist Lang Lang and opera star Andrea Bocelli, among 2,300 performers. Afterward, guests moved outside for a lights, music and fireworks jubilee that lit up the drab banks of the Huangpu river with 1,200 searchlights, powerful lasers and mobile fountains.

The Expo is expected to draw 70 million people over six months to pavilions from almost 200 nations designed to reflect the urban sustainability theme of “Better City, Better Life.”

China is splashing out $4.2 billion on the Expo itself, and many billions more on other improvements for this city of 20 million people.

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