Shanghai has opened the world’s biggest ever World Expo to the public, a celebration of global culture, the economy, science and technology.
Over the next six months 70 million people are expected to visit – an average of nearly 400,000 per day.
The opening saw long queues to get into the exhibitions in the enormous site amid tight security. A number of foreign leaders attended the opening, including from the EU.
“It is the first time for the European Union to take part in a World Expo outside the Union’s territory,” said EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. “I took this decision because of the importance I attach to the strategic partnership between the European Union and China.”
The Chinese say they have spent more than three billion euros to host the Expo, reportedly more than they did on the Beijing Olympics. The true cost, including that of building new infrastructure, has been estimated at many times higher.
The theme of the event, twenty times bigger than the last World Expo in Spain two years ago, is sustainable development. It is the first time a developing country has hosted it.
Many countries have spent huge sums on their own individual sites. But some national pavilions are said not to be ready, and there have been complaints of a crackdown on dissent.