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Expo starts with a big welcoming celebration

WITH the theme song echoing and fireworks bursting over the Huangpu River, Shanghai welcomed visitors from all over the world in a dazzlingly orchestrated display of the city's warmth, sincerity and openness of mind.

Back in December 2002, also surrounded by colorful fireworks, the city was in great joy of winning the bid to host the World Expo 2010. Yesterday, the same sort of fireworks lit up the oriental metropolis and turned the country of promise into a gathering center for the globe.

The already excited crowds, waiting in darkness, erupted in applause when "Welcome to Shanghai, China" in red and gold jumped out from the largest LED screen in the world -- 25 meters tall and 280 meters long -- at the Puxi section of the Expo site.

President Hu Jintao declared the Expo formally open at precisely 8:30pm in front of about 8,000 people and an oversize stage full of dancers and singers in the Expo Culture Center. The soprano Song Zuying, actor Jackie Chan and pianist Lang Lang were among the performers who helped inaugurate the largest world expo in history.
Later, when the ceremonies moved outdoors, rows of red fireworks burst overhead between the Nanpu Bridge and the Lupu Bridge. The waters of the Huangpu River also glittered red as they wound through the 5.28-square-kilometer Expo area.

Smiling faces from children across the world were displayed on the screen to the music of the Chinese folk standard, "Butterfly Lover," as fountains danced and laser beams flashed in accord with fireworks.

Barrages from about 20,000 fireworks rumbled the night. Inside each firework was a chip to control the time of explosion as well as to shape them into smiling faces, the mascot Haibao and the Expo logo.
The crowd roared as more than 6,000 lit balls turning red, yellow and orange floated downstream, turning the river into part of the display.
More than 200 small boats, each with a flag of participant countries and organizations, went upstream on the river, crossing the colorful balls in front of VIPs.


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