The story appears on

Page B4

February 1, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

An ocean embracing rivers

IT may be interesting to delve into some popular sayings, such as "reaching out to the world" (zou xiang shi jie) which has been quite popular since the advent of China's economic reforms and opening-up to the outside world. But when has China ever reached out to the world, or is it even possible to do so? This saying seems to imply that there are some problems between China and the world.

The motto of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was somewhat more reassuring: "One World, One Dream." That embraced the fact that China has been building a more positive relationship with the world.

No doubt, our memories of history have been filled with too much discord, humiliation and nightmarish experiences.

However, so much has changed in the past century, especially in the past six decades. Now we stride toward the world magnanimously and with open arms, inviting the world to us. Following the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing, World Expo 2010 Shanghai China now beckons to the world.

On the map of Shanghai are many geographic names of China: Fuxin, Songhuajiang and Sujiatun in the northeastern corner; places like Guilin Road in the south. In 2010, the names of countries and major cities across the globe will be spread across the map of World Expo Park. This is truly an international event.

Since opening its port in 1843, Shanghai has been a city accommodating and absorbing a grand array of cultures with an open mind.

Like a great ocean embracing hundreds of rivers, it is not only a land-and-water transportation hub for the whole nation but also a cultural confluence of the East and the West, the old and the new. It is said that the equivalent of "civilization" in many Western languages originated from the Latin word civitas (which means "city"). Maybe this was no coincidence. After all, our human society has progressed thanks to the tolerance, diversity, communication and convergence created by cities.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China has adopted the theme "Better City, Better Life," which I believe symbolizes the experiences and pursuits of mankind, and gives us an insight into our future.

For a long time after Western powers forced their entry into Third World countries like China, abetted by warships, cities were often viewed as hellholes - dens of iniquity, corruption and crime - both in imagination and in real life.

Today's rapid economic growth and dense urbanization have delivered some equally negative attributes, such as spatial conflicts, cultural friction, resource shortages and environment pollution. I hope this World Expo will give due attention to all these problems and provide a platform for discussing and contemplating solutions that will become a blueprint for the future.

The Istanbul Declaration published by the United Nations Human Settlements Program in 1996 stated that "our cities must be places where human beings lead fulfilling lives in dignity, good health, safety, happiness and hope."

Harmony and happiness are tenets advocated in our Chinese culture. The harmony we seek is between nature and mankind, among the people and between the body and the soul.

Harmony was also a doctrine shared by many ancient Western philosophers. Over the centuries, people have never stopped discussing and exploring the ideal of "harmonious cities." In the 18th century, some proposed models such as "utopia" and "ideal cities" and more recently concepts such as "garden cities" have been suggested as a means of harmonizing space, order, spiritual life and material consumption.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China should provide some new inspiration and perspective in this important pursuit. Although not all ideas and objectives may be readily applicable, at least we are putting our best thinking to the task at hand.

We have the habit of extolling our planet and life with eclogues, criticizing cities jammed with buildings and vehicles, and occasionally lamenting the shrinkage of rural areas.

While we will certainly continue to hear these discordant notes, we may also learn to compose new urban symphonies that help cities create their own humanistic ideals, build their own romantic environments, and address new human aspirations.

The world's most fascinating cities, including London, New York, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Tokyo, Berlin, Bombay, Calcutta, Cairo, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro and Teheran, are already on their way to Shanghai. Many Chinese cities are also converging on Shanghai. We are looking forward to this historic moment.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend