Expo Offers Shanghai a Turn in the Spotlight

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The World’s Fair may have lost the luster it brought decades ago to world capitals like Paris. But China has dusted off the concept in an attempt to give its second city, Shanghai, the same coming-out party that the 2008 Summer Olympic Games were for Beijing.

China has spent $45 billion — even more than it devoted to remake Beijing for the Olympics — to mount an elaborate World Expo, inviting 189 countries to showcase a polished, vibrant Shanghai that it envisions as a financial capital for the region, even the world.

The Shanghai event began Friday evening with a highly anticipated opening ceremony and fireworks display attended by China’s president, Hu Jintao, and dozens of other world leaders and dignitaries.

“Only we can hold such an Expo,” Fang Xinghai, director general of the Shanghai Financial Services Office, said before the Expo began. “There’s a bit of national pride in it. We want the world to come and admire our success.”
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