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August 6, 2009

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Belgium Pavilion picks Smurfs

SMURFS, the blue elf-like creatures, are ready to serve the Belgium Pavilion as its mascot during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

The Belgian animated creatures, created by Peyo in 1958, hit China in the 1980s with the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series and won countless domestic fans.

"Smurfs are lovely, kind and all good to others. They will not hurt anybody and are good people," said Leo Delcroix, the Belgian commissioner general.

The creatures are popular in both China and Europe and can be a good ambassador between China and Belgium, he added.

People dressed as Smurfs will welcome visitors while virtual Smurfs will present the pavilion's multimedia shows, he said.

The Belgian Expo team will decide whether a male or female Smurf would be the official mascot before naming it.

The pavilion will prepare an exhibition of all Belgium's famous cartoon characters, including Tintin, created by Herge in 1929.

Construction started yesterday on the cube-shaped pavilion, which will have 5,000 square meters of space.

A fifth of the space will be taken up by the European Union's exhibition, its Expo debut outside its member countries.

At the ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, officials from the Shanghai World Expo bureau, Belgium and EU as well as construction workers and a Belgian girl left their fingerprints, which will be showcased during the Expo.

Visitors will enjoy the "bon vivant" lifestyle of the continent. A mini chocolate factory will make authentic Belgium chocolate free for visitors.

The pavilion aims to attract investment from China as well as to promote Belgian investors to China, according to Didier Reynders, Belgian vice prime minister and minster of finance.


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