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March 19, 2010

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Harmonizing cultural roots

SINCE I was invited to give a speech at the Second International Forum on World Expo 2010 Shanghai China, held along the banks of the beautiful Seine River in Paris in June 2004, I have kept a close tie with this event and watched the progress of its preparations unfolding with keen anticipation.

The theme of this World Expo is "Better City, Better Life." A global concern arising from the accelerating pace of urbanization across the world is how to build better cities that enhance the quality of life for urban dwellers.

But how should we define a better city and a better life? We are talking not only in terms of towering buildings, convenient access to services or abundant material supplies. More importantly, we must encompass the preservation and development of urban culture and character.

The cultural character of a city is embodied in its history, traditions and heritage. That includes tangible things like historical buildings, archeological sites and cultural relics collected in museums, but it also includes intangible elements such as customs, language, folk literature and handicrafts.

Cultural heritage embraces the memories and footprints of a city and holds the key to helping people address the challenges of today and the future. Shanghai is a city steeped in cultural heritage. Its personality and charm rests on this legacy. To achieve a better city and a better life, the preservation of that heritage is indispensable.

Maintaining urban cultural character does not mean keeping a city stagnant. Instead, it requires creative development that harmonizes with cultural roots. Broad-mindedness, openness and tolerance are hallmarks of Shanghai's culture and urban vitality.

This World Expo is a showcase of the cultural achievements of mankind. As the largest World Expo in terms of the number of participating countries, World Expo 2010 Shanghai China will promote a remarkable exchange among different nations and different nationalities, allowing all participants to absorb the best the world has to offer across a wide spectrum.

When striving for a better life, a city is also enriching its own cultural heritage and refining its own cultural concepts.

When I was attending the International Forum on World Expo 2010 Shanghai China in Paris, China was preparing for two global pageants: the Beijing Olympic Games and this World Expo. During my speech, I said Chinese people held high hopes for the success of these two events. Four years later, the Beijing Olympic Games indeed amazed the world. Now, six years later, it's the turn of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China to add a splendid page to our nation's history.


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