The finishing touches are being made to China’s first-ever World Expo in Shanghai, which opens on Friday.
It has cost the city a pretty penny, at over 40 billion euros twice the cost of the Beijing Olympics two years ago. Everything about the Expo is gargantuan; the site is twice the size of the principality of Monaco, 100 million visitors are expected, and the extravaganza will last six months.
“During construction there was a lot of dust everywhere and it was very inconvenient. But since completion the transport network is very good. I feel very proud to be a Shanghai resident now,” said one local woman.
Not everyone is happy with the gleaming new metro, the world’s largest, two airports, and a new promenade along the Bund waterfront, as many protest the city’s historic districts are being bulldozed willy-nilly.
“The aim of the Shanghai Expo is to improve the standard of city life for us residents, but if these historical buildings are demolished then our city won’t be beautiful any more. They construct all these new buildings that look like concrete matchboxes and wipe away all the city’s good things,” said one man.
China insists it is serious about the Expo’s theme, “Better life, better city”, and that it is a green and environmentally-friendly festival, powered by China’s largest solar plant, and using zero-emission vehicles for transportation. But most of the costly pavilions will be demolished before the end of the year.