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Shanghai Expo Memorable for Canadian Visitors

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As Shanghai's six month party nears a close, the World Expo has been drawing accolades from Canadian visitors, both politicians and tourists, impressed by the sheer scale of the fair and how it has been successfully carried out by China.

With China and Canada currently marking 40 years of diplomatic ties, many Canadian politicians, from either the federal, provincial or civic level, made a trip to China this year. A visit to the Expo was considered mandatory as the fair featured both a Canadian Pavilion in addition to a Vancouver Pavilion.

Stockwell Day, the country's Asia-Pacific Gateway Minister, as well as Treasury Board Chairman, was the highest-ranking Canadian official to visit the expo when he attended in May. More recently, Rob Moore, Canada's Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), visited earlier this month when he led the country' s first ever tourism trade mission accompanied by four provincial tourism ministers.

With Mark Roswell, aka Dashan, acting as the commissioner general for Canada at the expo, and Cirque du Soleil performing, Moore said the more than six million visitors who went through the three-story pavilion "surpassed our most optimistic predictions".

"The Canada Pavilion has shown .. the image of a modern Canada, where cultural diversity, technological expertise, and concern for the environment are all assets that make our country a top destination for doing business, studying, or traveling," he said.

The Vancouver Pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area played a significant role in promoting the interests of British Columbia. During the fair, Gordon Campbell, the premier of Canada's western- most province, and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson both attended the expo on separate visits.

Campbell, a tireless promoter of B.C. who has made several China visits over the years, told Xinhua that it was important to be there to support the long-term partnership Canada has had with China. He talked about how impressed he was in the transformation of the expo site in only a few short years.

Vancouver experienced a similar transformation in the mid 1980s when the city hosted the Expo in 1986 under a transportation theme. The fair was held on old industrial site downtown that has since become a showpiece for the city and home to thousands.

"What it really does is it shows what we can do when we think about living cities and creating places people want to live. The expo showed what the future can look like, and I think it is going to be very powerful for China and it is certainly powerful for the rest of the world as well. It was a huge success and I hope everyone in Shanghai and China feels like it was a huge success as well," Campbell said.

"The Vancouver Pavilion, I thought, was important from our perspective because it shows people what you can do with one of our really important building products - wood. We think wood will help solve a number of problems in terms in the environment. It doesn't just store carbon, but it is very flexible in terms of meeting the needs of the modern family and I think again in Vancouver's Pavilion, they showed that off."

Robertson, a relative of Dr Norman Bethune, visited China in September where he traveled to Shijiazhuang, Hebei, to visit the grave of the famed Anti-Japan War hero. He also took in Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and the Shanghai Expo to promote Vancouver's green initiatives.

"The Expo was amazing. It was a really, really incredible scale and quality and impressive to see how many people were there. Vancouver Pavilion has been very successful. We had our 500,000th visitor while I was there," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"It was great for me and my business colleagues to be able to see Shanghai, see the Expo, see how far China has come in a short period of time. The significance of a global event like the World Expo, similar to the Beijing Olympics, I think, has really elevated China's profile in the world, drawn worldwide attention to China, and the ability for China to be a leader on the world stage."

Frank Huang, editor in chief of Global Chinese Press in Vancouver, visited Shanghai World Expo twice respectively in May and June. He said it is significant for China to host such a grand event.

"As we know, World Expo was a product of the Industrial Revolution and used to be hosted by the Western developed countries. From China's hosting of the current World Expo, people get to know that China is gradually approaching the world level in terms of industry, science and technology through its 30-year economic reform and opening up," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Learning from the experience of Vancouver World Expo, Frank said that he could surely expect Shanghai World Expo will help a lot to promote China's economic and social development.

"As the world expo brought a rapid economic development in Vancouver and enlarged the city's name on the map of the world as well, Shanghai World Expo could be expected to make China, Shanghai in particular, better known to the world and greatly promote its economic, social and urban development,"he said.

Describing Shanghai World Expo as a platform for the meeting between eastern and western culture, Huang said: "the current world expo is actually hosted in a developing country with an oriental ancient civilization, while world expo itself happens to be the outcome of the Industrial Revolution, representing the western modern civilization. So the exchange interaction between the eastern and western civilization has been obviously indicated in the current world expo."

"For this time, the world has chosen Shanghai to host the world expo, expecting a better exchange between eastern and western culture," he added.

Deeply impressed by Chinese public's ardor for the world expo, Huang said a lot of Chinese visitors he met with in the Shanghai World Expo Park told him how they had desired to see the expo with their own eyes.

"It seams to me that China has done a wonderful job to make the event so popular among the public," he said.

Chen Meili, a 73-year-old Shanghai origin, immigrated to Canada over 30 years ago. As the Chief Director of Shanghai Business Association (Canada), She was invited to attend the launching ceremony of the "Overseas Chinese Return Home to See Expo" activity in front of the China Pavilion on May 10, 2010. She talked about her exciting experience in her Shanghai World Expo tour.

"My general impression can be summarized into two simple sentences, China has the power and Shanghai has the capability. It has been no easy job to make Shanghai World Expo a great success," she told Xinhua.

Impressed by the hospitality and capability of the volunteers in the Shanghai World Expo Park, Chen said: "there were so many volunteers there giving very satisfying service."

"They were university students and can speak good English and Mandarin of course. They responded immediately to every question with perfect answer, never hearing them saying 'I don't know'." she said.

"Even my son, who was brought up in Canada, said to me that the volunteers' service was just wonderful. They could answer whatever questions."

"In this trip to my hometown, I witnessed great changes and considerable improvements in people's social morality, education, environment and public hygiene conditions. The most important is that people's living standards have been greatly improved," she said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 29, 2010)

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