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January 1, 2010

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Fireworks and party time as Shanghai shines

AMID a dazzling display of pyrotechnic prowess and explosive sounds all around the city, residents and tourists cheered in 2010 at the stroke of midnight as we enter the year of Shanghai World Expo.

City Mayor Han Zheng was over the moon as he delivered his New Year's message, saying: "The slogan 'Better City, Better Life' epitomizes the spirit of World Expo. It is a major opportunity for Shanghai to improve its economy and people's life generally."

As the city kicked up its heels, four landmark areas were in the spotlight.

The Bund

At least 3,500 people bellowed in the countdown in Chen Yi Square before the fireworks in an event televised by Dragon TV. They expressed widely different goals for the year ahead.

Maxim Beatty, from Australia, for example, wants to have a son in 2010 to join his daughter, 2.

Beatty, the owner of a digital firm, has been in Shanghai for three years.

On the business side, he said: "I hope the financial crisis ends in 2010 and for a better performance by my little firm."

Maple Chen, a postgraduate student from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the United States, hopes to find a job in Shanghai after she graduates in June.

"The US hasn't recovered from the crisis and there are more opportunities here," she said.


The charismatic area featured a countdown ceremony followed by a fireworks display at midnight as well as a reception for Shanghai consul generals.

The stage performance, featuring pop star JJ Lin and other noted performers, was linked to televised celebrations at The Bund.

It was US Deputy Consul General Christopher Beede's first New Year's Eve experience in Xintiandi.

"We were very pleased to see President Barrack Obama visiting China and Shanghai," he said.

"We wish Shanghai every success in the World Expo."

Fan Yina, an information technology worker, said 2009 was too busy and her job "seemed to occupy my whole life during the year."

"I hope to find a better balance between work and life in 2010," she said.

Longhua Temple

This noted area of the city also turned on the fireworks. Temple Abbot Zhao Cheng handed out scrolls he wrote, featuring the Chinese character "Le," which means happy and joyful in Chinese.

Junko Kobashi, 53, a Japanese tourist who is a teacher of home economics and literature, summed up the temple mood perfectly.

"I wish for a peaceful world in 2010," she said.

The most remarkable moment for her in 2009 was the sun's eclipse on July 22. "I watched it in Shanghai instead of Okinawa as my mother and I are very fond of China and its culture and people."

New World Department Store

The retailer kept its eye on the bottom line, opening until 2am today and continuing a heavily discounted sale that began frantically on Wednesday.

The store was packed with bargain hunters.

A woman, surnamed Liu spent 15,000 yuan (US$2,197) for products that normally retail for about 33,000 yuan including bed linen, shoes and jewelry.

"It was quite a bargain," she said.


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