The opening ceremony of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai was launched at the Expo Park at 8:10pm on Friday night.
The six-month event kicks off with a lavish riverside display of fireworks and lights.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior officials as well as foreign leaders attended the ceremony.
The Expo Park will officially open to the public on Saturday. The Expo is expected to draw 70 million people to pavilions from almost 200 nations designed to reflect the urban sustainability theme of "Better City, Better Life."
Hu promises "unforgettable" Shanghai Expo
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday voiced confidence of Shanghai hosting an "unforgettable" World Expo, which he said would bridge China and the world.
Hu addressed a welcoming dinner for foreign dignitaries who would attend the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Expo on Friday evening.
Hu and his wife Liu Yongqing shook hands with visiting foreign guests before the dinner.
I am confident that, with concerted efforts, people around the world will witness a successful, splendid and unforgettable World Expo," said the President, giving a toast at the dinner.
In the past eight years, China has mobilized resources throughout the country and pooled the wisdom of the world, he said.
As the first registered World Expo hosted by a developing country, the Shanghai Expo will be "an opportunity for China and also for the world," Hu said.
At this Expo, China will present to the world a country with 5,000-year history, which is enjoying fast development and changes through reform and opening-up, he said.
The Expo will serve as a bridge for China to learn the good experience of other countries and engage in exchanges and cooperation with the rest of the world, he said.
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