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City on the Thames, City on the Huangpu

LONDON, a Shanghai sister city, prepares for the fourth China in London festival to celebrate the Year of the Ox, showcasing Chinese culture and World Expo 2010, writes Nie Xin.

China in London 2009 rolls out a banquet of Chinese culture for the next two months - celebrating the Year of the Ox and beckoning Londoners to the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

A series of events, exhibitions and performances across the British capital will include the London Chinese Film Festival at the BFI Southbank and Odeon, Covent Garden, plus events at the Museum of London in Docklands, the National Portrait Gallery, the Cockpit Theatre; the Broadway Theatre, Barking and the Camden Town Hall.

This fourth year of the festival offers something new - Shanghai Week focusing on six-month Shanghai World Expo that is themed "Better City, Better Life." It opens on May 1, 2010.

"It's my privilege to host Shanghai Week during China in London, which brings thousands of people to the streets of London to enjoy Chinese culture," says Boris Johnson, mayor of London.

"This is the Year of the Ox - a symbol of strength, patience and fortitude. It is curiously appropriate in the current climate, and those qualities will certainly help see us through the difficult times ahead," he says.

It will be the second Shanghai Week in London, one of Shanghai's sister cities. The first in 2007 gave a general picture of Shanghai to Londoners. The event is organized by the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom, Shanghai Municipal Government and the Mayor of London. Posters about the events can be seen in the London Underground.

"The first Shanghai Week in 2007 enabled Londoners to fully experience the breadth and depth of Chinese culture, as well as the charm and vigor of Shanghai," says Zhao Bingbing, chief representative of the Shanghai Office for the Mayor of London Office.

"It also promoted friendship between people of the two cities, and facilitated our cooperation and exchanges in business, tourism and culture," she says.

The very first World Exposition was held in London in 1851, titled "The Great Exhibition of Industries of All Nations."

This year, Haibao, the mascot of Expo 2010, will take part in Shanghai Week in London. Haibao, which means "treasure of the sea," is a big blue, goofy-looking guy/gal roughly shaped like an inverted letter "v," or the character ren meaning "people" in Chinese.

Shanghai Week runs from January 29 to February 7, offering events that showcase the many facets of Shanghai past, present and future.

From cityscapes to ancient bronzes, Shanghai Week will feature "Treasures from Shanghai" at the British Museum; the Expo forum at the Victoria & Albert Museum and "Images of Shanghai" exhibition at City Hall.

"It's a perfect opportunity to learn all about the economic, scientific and cultural development of Shanghai," says Shanghai representative Zhao.

There will be spectacular celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year, exhibitions of ancient bronzes and jades at the British Museum and a Chinese film festival, she says. Shanghai WeekLunar New Year Festvial

Date: February 1, 12-6pm

Chinatown, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Shaftesbury Avenue. Celebrations include traditional performances by artists from Qinghai and Yunnan provinces. Fireworks in Leicester Square, cultural stalls, food, decorations, lion dance performances and on stage in Shaftesbury Avenue. Organized by the London Chinatown Chinese Association.


"Images of Shanghai" Date: January 30-February 27, Mondays-Fridays

Venue: City Hall

Documents urban Shanghai and its blueprint for Shanghai Expo site.

Expo forum

Title: "From London to Shanghai, Inheritance and Innovation - Wisdom in Urban Development"

Date: January 29, 2-5:30pm

Venue: Lecture Theater of Victoria and Albert Museum

Seminar brings together historians of the first London Expo, experts from the museum and Organizers of World Expo 2010.

"Treasures from Shanghai"

Ancient bronzes and jades

Date: January 30-March 27

Venue: Room 2, British Museum

Relics on loan from the Shanghai Museum explore their roles as ritual objects.


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