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March 13, 2010

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Astonishing the world anew

JUAN Antonio Samaranch is a Spanish sports official who served as the 7th president of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 to 2001. Today he is the honorary chairman of that body.

The year 2008 was the year of Olympic Games in Beijing, a spectacular success that awed the world. Likewise, the year 2010 belongs to China, and to Shanghai that hosts World Expo 2010 opening on May 1.

The theme of the Olympics was "One World, One Dream," epitomizing the Olympic spirit of world unity, friendship and progress.

For all the different languages, races and cultures, the world shares the hope for peace and prosperity. Through its theme "Better City, Better Life," World Expo 2010 Shanghai China will present the world an aspiration for lasting survival and for a more harmonious urban life.

The changes taking place in China in recent years have been amazing. China's development has been comprehensive. It is difficult to figure out how and why of the growth and progress of this country. For so many years, it has maintained a pace of growth of 10 percent, which has resulted in a total change to the structure of its economy and a subsequent brand-new look for its society. Whenever I visited China, a country of friendship, I would take some time to stop in Shanghai. The imposing financial zone in Pudong, with its forest of skyscrapers including the Jin Mao Tower, has been a particular delight for me. It is a development that has surprised me because the land where the financial zone stands today used to be a stretch of paddy fields by the Huangpu River. The life of self-sacrificing farmers has become history and given way to the faster-paced life of a new business district with world influence.

Taking advantage of the opportunity of the Olympic Games, China successfully presented its present-day image: a modern society, advanced social structures, talent of organization, creativity in event orchestration and great efficiency in construction of magnificent sports venues. It presented the world a Beijing that belongs to the 21st century but retains its cultural traditions.

Shanghai will now show its most modern face to the world. On May 1, it will open its door to greet millions of visitors. Coming from different metropolises and regions, these visitors will meet there in search of solutions for a better urban life. It is my full belief that once again, the leaders of the People's Republic of China and the Chinese people will show the world their warmth, hospitality and love for peace and progress.


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