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February 5, 2010

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Lasting architectural legacy

FOR nearly 160 years since its birth in London in 1851, the World Expo has remained a platform for exhibiting mankind's progresses in science, culture and economy.

During this course, the world has experienced fundamental reforms and transformations in every field. Thanks to its great economic and cultural influences, however, the World Expo has kept the same spirit since its birth.

The theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai is "Better City, Better Life." Considering the influences of the World Expo on cities in many aspects such as architecture and culture, this theme is of particular significance.

As urban administrators, we must use the opportunity the World Expo generates for the creation of a better life. This is because as urban administrators, our primary task is to improve the living standards of our residents so that they can live in cities that no longer pose any problems to them but create in them a sense of pride.

The World Expo not only brings millions of visitors and thousands of participants into happy gatherings. As its primary tribute, it creates an architectural value for the host city. Many cities have been remembered for their landmark buildings built for this event, with the most representative examples including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Atomium in Brussels and the Crystal Palace in London. Thanks to such landmark buildings, these cities have won global attention and thus acquired a crucial advantage in their competition against other cities.

Meanwhile, we as local administrators should also acknowledge the remarkable contributions of these landmark buildings to urban prosperity, which is particularly important for achieving a better life for our residents.

Great contribution

Each year, the Eiffel Tower attracts some 6 million visitors, which evidences its great contribution to the local economy of Paris as well as the national economy of France. In Seville, the former World Expo site has been turned into a science and technology park, which generates an annual economic return of US$1.7 billion and provides 20,000 jobs.

Moreover, the World Expo itself stands as a push to the economic growth of its host city. World Expo 2010 Shanghai is expected to attract over 70 million visitors from more than 200 countries and international organizations in six months, equivalent to the annual number of tourists to France in 2008.

As local administrators, therefore, we should support the exhibition industry both for the sake of increasing job opportunities and for promoting our cities. It is evident that expositions, especially those with established brands in their fields, can significantly contribute to a city's development as well as its prestige.

No doubt, better life does not come merely from economic growth. It also involves the cultural needs. Expositions have also played an important role in cultural exchange and social life. Those expositions with established brands, in particular, may help millions of visitors gather under the same roof and provide different cultures with a chance to meet and know each other.

If we do not count business activities as a focus for peaceful communication between different cultures, the importance of expositions will be embodied in the achievement of the global objective of peaceful coexistence of different cultures. Just like Istanbul, which served as the capital city for three empires, cities tolerating coexistence of different cultures will become decision centers with global influence.

Now, World Expo 2010, with the theme of "Better City, Better Life," will be held in Shanghai, a sister city of Istanbul. No doubt, this World Expo will present many new concepts and achieve new progress. At the first World Expo, a Shanghainese businessman named Xu Rongcun won a gold prize for his exquisite "Yung Kee Huzhou Silk." After nearly 160 years, Shanghai will host the World Expo for the first time.

It is my belief that our sister city Shanghai will host the best World Expo. As the mayor of Istanbul, I would like to extend hereby my sincere congratulations to Mr Han Zheng, mayor of Shanghai. I hope World Expo 2010 Shanghai will not only exert a great influence on economic development and cultural relations, but also make significant contributions to the rise of innovative ideas through its international platform.


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