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April 29, 2010

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Safety put first as world leaders arrive for record-breaking Expo

SECURITY was tight yesterday as world leaders prepared to fly into Shanghai for the opening of the World Expo.

Police were stationed on nearly every corner of the downtown area of the city, and every bag and package had to go through X-ray machines at all subway stops.

The beefed-up security comes before Saturday's opening of the Expo expected to draw 70 million visitors during its six-month run.

Besides President Hu Jintao, other leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will be in Shanghai for an opening ceremony tomorrow night.

Ten special police officers, two airport security officials and 10 patrol and sniffer dogs arrived in Shanghai from Beijing yesterday to assist in airport security checks.

China has kept close contact with other participants at the Expo to ensure security.

Shanghai police and security authorities have set up hotlines with counterparts of all 242 countries, regions and international organizations that are to attend the Expo, the international police liaison center said yesterday.

Shanghai would present a "quality" Expo despite its unprecedented size and a record number of visitors, the chief of the International Exhibitions Bureau said yesterday.

A concern for the BIE and the Expo organizers was "how to balance the largest participation ever with a quality exposition," said Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary-general of the BIE, at a Shanghai press conference.

Eight years ago when the organizing work began, "we knew we had to face challenges at an unexpected scale," and problems were expected to emerge during the Expo which would see "the largest park, the largest number of visitors and the largest number of participants", he said.

However, when the Expo opens doors to the world, "visitors will see that this challenge of quantity and quality had been very successfully met," he said, attributing the success to full support from the central government and Shanghai organizers.


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