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March 20, 2010

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A splendid human exercise

EPITOMIZING world progress, pooling human wisdom and showcasing the dreams of mankind, the World Expo is a splendid human exercise. As its soul, the theme of a World Expo tells us its meaning and contents, and defines its objectives.

Throughout the history of world expositions, the themes have always exemplified global progress, the contemporary spirit of each epoch and the challenges facing the world as it moves toward the future. The themes of World Expo embody universal values and inspire imagination and creativity.

The World Expo brings the whole world together to look into the future. Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, who took charge of planning and pavilion design for 1970 Expo in Osaka, once noted that "the primary objective of a modern exposition should be oriented toward helping people represent the wisdom and cultural essence of mankind gathered from all over the world in a face-to-face exchange." If the World Expo is designed to promote progress, facilitate cultural integration and create venues for communication, its theme must exemplify the issues of common concern.

Although the various world expos have taken their themes from an array of issues, including industry, information, civilization, science, technology, culture, art, education, transport, sports, ecology, environment and resources, what has always remained common is a spotlight on mankind, cities and nature.

This is also the origin of the theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China -- "Better City, Better Life" -- which points to two essential aspects of our future. This theme involves the relationship between people and cities, mankind and nature.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China will showcase the challenges facing human societies in this age of urbanization, promote efforts in the preservation of urban cultures and natural heritage, propagate the concept of sustainable urban development, and explore the future path of urbanization for developing countries.

A city evolves over a long period of time and lasts even longer. Shanghai has cherished a history of more than 1,000 years. After the World Expo, it will continue to progress for thousands of years to come. Greek philosopher Aristotle once said: "People come to cities for life, and live there for a better one." His wisdom best interprets the theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China. If we want to make our lives better, we first have to make our cities better.

Cities represent the essence of human civilization. It is no coincidence that the equivalent of "civilization" in many Western languages has its origin in the Latin world "civitas," which means "city." Born of tolerance, diversity and continuous progress, cities have facilitated the improvement of social order, the accretion of culture and the accumulation of wealth.

The pursuit of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China for the ideal city of the future is embodied in the concept of the "city of harmony." The notion of "harmony" is an old one in Chinese culture, advocating peaceful coexistence between mankind and nature, between body and soul, between individual and individual.

The goal of urban development should be what the United Nations Human Settlements Program stated in its 1996 Istanbul Declaration: "Our cities must be places where human beings lead fulfilling lives in dignity, good health, safety, happiness and hope." That underscores the ideas behind the theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China.

We are looking forward to visiting the World Expo 2010 -- the pageant of our dreams and the hope of our future.


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