Tens of thousands of people crammed into the Shanghai World Expo on Saturday at the start of the six-month mass display of culture and technology seen as a showcase of China's growing economic might.
A record number of countries are participating in the event, which is expected to attract at least 70 million visitors -- the vast majority of them Chinese, many of whom have never travelled outside the country.
North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Myanmar, Zimbabwe have close ties with China, and have made every effort to put on a good show at the just opened Shanghai Expo, an expensive event being held in China's commercial hub over the next six months.
Organisers have said all 500,000 tickets are sold out for opening day at the massive Expo park along the Huangpu river, where visitors will wander through the exhibits of 189 nations, as well as dozens of companies and organisations.
A sea of people waited to visit China's red inverted pyramid -- the centrepiece of Expo park -- but queues were long at all pavilions. Signs outside the US and French venues said visitors faced a wait of four hours.
Eager visitors used umbrellas to shield themselves from the blistering Shanghai sun as they waited patiently, the long queues doing nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.
North Korea's first time
North Korean official Lee Song-un told China's Xinhua news agency in March that this was the first time the country had attended an Expo, choosing China's financial hub and most cosmopolitan and richest city to do so, according to Reuters.
"The pavilion will show off the 'garden city' of Pyongyang, and reflect the characteristic style of the North Korean people's spirit in building a powerful and prosperous country," Lee said.
North Korea's number two leader, Kim Yong-nam, turned up in person for the Expo's opening ceremony.
Pictures and film inside show happy people ice skating and otherwise enjoying themselves.
There is an advertisement for a North Korean restaurant in Shanghai, and a stall selling souvenirs, including stamps, DVDs and children's books in English with titles such as "Boys Wipe Out Bandits".
Uighur, Taiwan pavilions
It's not just controversial countries which are getting their day in the sun in Shanghai.
All of China's provinces and regions have pavilions, including what China calls Xinjiang, the restive home of the Uighur people.
Uighur demonstrators took the streets in Urumqi on July 5 to protest against Han Chineses’ attacks on Uighurs workers at a factory in south China in June which left two Uighurs dead. Hans in Urumqi sought bloody revenge two days later.
World Uighur Congress said that near 800 Uigurs were killed during a week-violence after Han Chineses attacks and following intervention of China forces. The China governmnet put the death toll 197.
Their pavilion's theme is "Xinjiang is a nice place", with exhibitions showing "the generosity and cheerfulness of Xinjiang people".
There is also Tibet, another restless part of the country.
"(The) Tibet Pavilion displays the unique charms of Tibetan culture, Tibetan people's patriotism, resolution to make progress, and aspiration for well-off life, peace and harmony," the official Expo website (www.expo2010.cn) says.
Don't expect any mentions of their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a man condemned by Beijing as a separatist.
The London-based Free Tibet campaign is calling on foreign visitors to boycott the Tibet pavilion.
"Any visit to the Tibet Pavilion by a foreign visitor to Shanghai Expo constitutes a tacit endorsement of China's policies in Tibet of arbitrary detention, torture, disappearances, patriotic re-education and the occupation of Tibet," said Free Tibet's director, Stephanie Brigden.
AgenciesLast Mod: 01 Mayıs 2010, 13:13