USA Pavilion targets 7 million visitors by showing 'soft side'

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The USA Pavilion is on course to meet the target of hosting more than 7 million guests at Expo 2010 Shanghai, as the world's biggest economy tries to impress visitors with its soft side.

"In addition to the many distinguished guests and dignitaries, the USA Pavilion receives roughly 10 percent of daily Expo guests or about 50,000 people per day," said Jos H. Villarreal, the US commissioner general for Expo 2010 Shanghai.

"We are privileged to have welcomed more than 3.5 million visitors, putting us on track to host more than 7 million guests by the end of the Expo."

The United States, one of the last countries to confirm its attendance at the world fair, invites visitors to explore four different exhibitions in its eagle-shaped pavilion, which centers on the theme Rising to the Challenge.

Prohibited by law from using public money to build its pavilion, the country has relied on corporate funding and private donors to finance its Expo activities since 1991.

"Some doubted the United States would be present at this Expo. But, despite being one of the last countries to commit participation, we were one of the first to finish and, in the spirit of our pavilion theme of Rising to the Challenge, we are here today celebrating what Expo is about: bringing countries and people together," Villarreal said.

"As we anticipate the second half of Expo 2010 Shanghai, I am reminded of exactly how far we have come," he added.

In the next three months, the country will stage events and activities that exhibit American culture, values and ideals. This includes performances by American R&B singer Otis Clay, Indy rock group PaperDoll and other programs designed to encourage cultural exchanges between the US and China.

The country also plans to support the Expo theme Better City, Better Life by launching a series of carbon offset projects in China to fulfill its pledge that the USA Pavilion would be carbon neutral.

"The success of the USA Pavilion in the first three months of Expo is a testament to the hard work and dedication of countless individuals collaborating on a project mutually important to the United States and China," Villarreal said. "We are humbled by the overwhelmingly positive reactions from our huge number of visitors, who honor us daily with record attendance."

In August, a second group of student ambassadors will arrive from the US as the first group departs.

A total of 160 students will serve during the Expo. All of them are college students fluent in Mandarin who were selected to represent the US and serve as goodwill ambassadors.

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