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03may20103Dharamshala: The World Expo 2010 is being held from May 1 through to October 30 in the centre of Shanghai along both sides of the Huangpu River. China's rapid development over the last 20 years was evident at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. After winning the bid to host the Expo in 2002, Shanghai has spent a colossal amount in an effort to prepare the city infrastructure and clear the site for the event. The site is now packed with sculpture gardens, shops, national pavilions, a sports arena and a visually impressive performing arts centre.

At least 70 million visitors, primarily Chinese, are expected to pavilions and exhibitions staged by countries and organisations from all over the world. The Expo has provided China with the opportunity to display its growing influence in the global sphere and improve relations with other countries. With the opening ceremony held in the evening of April 30, security measures in Shanghai were been radically increased. Dozens of world leaders attended the ceremony which consisted of both indoor and outdoor events including performances by singers, dancer and a dazzling display of fireworks and lasers.

The theme of the World Expo is "better city, better life", and indeed the five central pavilions are dedicated to exploring different aspects of urban development. At the heart of the site covering 2.5 square miles sits the China pavilion, the "Oriental Crown", an edifice incorporating traditional Chinese architecture and design into a mammoth two hundred foot tall structure. India has a larger pavilion than many other countries due to its diverse culture and wide variety of ethnic groups, religions and languages. The main theme is "Unity is Diversity" and whilst the focus of the exhibit is interaction between rural and urban areas, the pavilion also showcases India's rich cultural heritage.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already braved the Shanghai heat to visit the most expensive World Fair in history to date. Indeed among the VIPs who witnessed the World Expo's opening ceremony were two orphans who survived the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that devastated China's Qinghai Province, traditionally Kyegundo in Kham Province of eastern Tibet, on April 14 last month. The death toll from the earthquake is still rising, over 12,000 people were injured and as many as 100,000 people have no home as a consequence of the catastrophe. However, ‘Reporters Without Borders', an international organisation fighting for press freedom, has reported that the Propaganda Department asked the media to reduce their coverage of the earthquake and increase features regarding the Shanghai Exhibition.

Furthermore, The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) is calling on Canadian leaders and tourists visiting the Shanghai Expo to put an extra wide berth between themselves and what organizers have offensively termed the "Heavenly Tibet" Pavilion. "This pavilion is a hopeless attempt to whitewash the government of China's human rights abuses in Tibet," said CTC executive director Dermod Travis. "There is nothing heavenly about Tibet for Tibetans when thousands have disappeared or been incarcerated for exercising their universal human rights since 2008." Event organizers state that 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, yet the CTC notes that in addition to its failure to depict human rights abuses under China's occupation, the pavilion will not even display a single photo of the Dalai Lama.

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