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Improving basic quality of life

THE World Expo and the Olympic Games are events that differ from each other. Clear-cut in vision, definite in goals and objective in results, the Olympic Games can be measured in quantitative terms.

The World Expo, on the other hand, has tried to epitomize the unique features and characteristics of different times, different regions and different cultures ever since its creation in 1851.

In this sense, each World Expo is an event that is unique and that can never be evaluated with any objective parameters or universal criteria, although it is also an event hosted in regular succession. A review of its history of more than 140 years shows that nothing but multi-element development and constant changes best describe World Expo's essence.

The Olympic Games is a sports gala. In a short span of merely a few days, it demonstrates the extremes human beings can reach physically. The World Expo, on the other hand, is greater in demand, bigger in coverage and firmer in foundation. Its hosting is a harder job than that of the Olympic Games in terms of both time and space. To borrow an anthropological term: the World Expo will inevitably involve a great variety of "richly meaningful vagueness," which is precisely the rare value of the World Expo.

As has been the constant case since its debut in London, the World Expo has served as a platform for developed countries to demonstrate their comprehensive national strength to the rest of the world, with all its hosts trying their utmost to create their national brands. In recent years, however, it has gradually shifted focus to challenges of common concern to all mankind, while continuing efforts to showcase the national style of the host country.

The coming Expo in Shanghai has chosen urban life as its theme. Macro and practical at the same time, it provides a considerable space for imagination by all countries in the world.

Like the Olympic Games in Beijing, the World Expo in Shanghai is an unprecedented undertaking. Altogether 174 countries and regions and 50 international organizations are coming to participate, numbers never seen in the event's history.

It may not be right to say that the amount of investment involved, the number of volunteers recruited and the total of tickets sold will always remain unparalleled, but we are safe to say that it will hardly be possible for any World Expo in the future to match this one in Shanghai in terms of magnitude and momentum.

With the mentality for excellence, openness, inspiration and modesty, the organizer has intelligently exemplified the spirit of "seeking perfection through steady and constant endeavors" by propounding the theme "Better City, Better Life." As we read in the beginning of the Confucian classic "Great Learning," man should always strive for perfection until perfection is truly achieved. In other words, there is never any end to human pursuit for excellence. The athletes hope to jump higher or run faster, the practices all the time for greater performances, writers dream for new masterpieces, and philosophers wrack their brains day after day to sort out the wisdoms of life. All these are examples of pursuit for excellence.

But they differ from the World Expo which, instead of aiming at any personal edification or improvement, eyes for the progress and development of a whole society, a whole nation, or even the whole world. Thanks to the intent of the host, all the 242 participating parties will be able to best demonstrate their advantages and cutting edges.

What World Expo 2010 Shanghai China drives at is, however, not a quantitative goal but a qualitative one. The value of a piece of gold is determined more by its purity than by its weight, and purity comes from refinement. It is the truthful, the honest and the original that inspires people. Like the Olympic Games in Beijing, World Expo 2010 Shanghai China will positively affirm China's traditional culture because, as the organizers of the two events firmly believe, the Chinese tradition not only stands as the primitive source nourishing the soul of the Chinese nation, but also provides the spiritual resource for nursing world peace.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai China is a venue for international cultural exchanges in the 21st century, and a window for showcasing beauty from all over the world. If we all come to take part in this eye-catching and rare dialogue between civilizations and with an open, modest and ready-to-learn mind, pursuit for excellence will no longer be an ideal but a practice for urbanites to improve the basic quality of their lives and society as a whole.


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