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Shanghai after World Expo 2010

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The Shanghai World Expo will certainly be in the list of TOP 3 events of 2010 in China.”Better City, Better Life”, as the theme of Expo 2010 was, can be seen everywhere in Shanghai, where I lived for 7 years. But for me, I’d prefer to say that my annual event 2010 of China is what happened after the Shanghai Expo, and not the Expo itself.


Only 15 days after the curtain of the Expo fell, in the afternoon of Nov. 15th, a deadly fire gripped the city of Shanghai.The fire destroyed a 28-story high-rise apartment building in Shanghai, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 70 others (with at least one source reporting more than 120 others injured).The building housed around 440 people, mainly retired teachers. An early report showed that the ages of those injured in the fire ranged from 3 to 85, with the majority (64.5%) over the age of 50. Most of the injured appeared to be elderly residents or children, and it was confirmed that the youngest victim of the fire was 16 months old.
An investigation was announced on the day following the fire, to determine the cause of the blaze. A preliminary finding by investigators concluded that sparks from welding work being done on the building, undertaken by unlicensed welders, ignited scaffolding around the structure, which led to the apartment’s destruction. Illegal multi-layered subcontracting was blamed,and four managers from several construction companies were detained. On 20 December 2010, the mayor of Shanghai, Han Zheng, said that the city would crack down on unfair practices of construction companies and contracting firms. Han said on 22 November that the city was largely responsible for the disaster. He said, “Poor supervision of the city’s construction industry was one of the causes behind the high-rise apartment building fire. And we are responsible for that.”
It was late autumn, and the whole city fell into deep sadness immediately. Local citizens put flowers and wreaths near the site, and offered prayers around the destroyed building. Nov. 21th was the seventh day after the deaths,which is the day that Chinese people believe the souls of the dead return to their relatives before departing. According to Xinhua, about 10,000 people attended a public mourning at the site on that day; mourners left large amounts of flowers surrounding the burnt building. I cannot stop crying when I see those pictures every single time. Here, in this picture, citizens wrote down “Shanghai, don’t cry” in the typical Shanghai dialect.
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It might not be a good memory for China in 2010, but it’s an unforgettable lesson,which showed us that no matter if it’s before or after the Expo,”better city, better life” will never be as easy as it reads.

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