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  • Shanghai Expo 2010
    Shanghai Expo 2010

Presently, there are two types of world expositions: registered and recognized. Registered exhibitions are the biggest category events. Previously, registered expositions were called 'Universal Expositions'. Even though this name lingers on in public memory, it is no longer in use as an official term. At registered exhibitions, participants generally build their own pavilions. They are therefore the most extravagant and most expensive expos. Their duration may be between six weeks and six months. Since 1995, the interval between two registered expositions has been at least five years. The next registered exposition will be Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Recognized expositions are smaller in scope and investments and generally shorter in duration; between three weeks and three months. Previously, these expositions were called 'International or Specialized Expositions' but these terms are no longer used officially. Their total surface area must not exceed 25 ha and organizers must build pavilions for the participating states, free of rent, charges, taxes and expenses. The largest country pavilions may not exceed 1,000 square meters (1,196 square yards). Only one recognized exhibition can be held between two registered exhibitions.

There is also a third category of exposition - the horticultural exhibitions, which is a joint BIE and AIPH-sanctioned 'garden' fair, where gardens and garden pavilions take the form of a participant's representation. The 2006 Royal Flora Ratchaphruek can be considered an example of the category.

Since 1851 when the Great Exhibition of Industries of All Nations was held in the Crystal Palace in London, the World Expositions have attained increasing prominence as grand events for economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, serving as an important platform for displaying historical experience, exchanging innovative ideas, demonstrating esprit de corps and looking to the future. After the 1933 World Expo Chicago created a theme for its exposition, subsequent expos furthered the tradition of establishing themes.

 China and the early World Expos
The Chinese took part as early as the first World Expo in England. In the genealogical records of a Xu family, an overseas-products buyer called Xu Deqiong, who took part in the First World Expo in 1851, won a gold award. This was confirmed in an 1852 publication of the British Royal Academy. It said that Rongji Silk from Shanghai gained favorable comments for its fine quality and gained a gold award. These precious historical records will be shown at the Shanghai World Expo Knowledge Exhibition. 

The first World Exposition attended by China with its own representative was the 1876 Philadelphia World Expo. A man named Li Gui acted as the representative of China's industry and commerce. He wrote a book named New Records of World Tour, recording the 1876 Philadelphia World Expo. Although he was the only Chinese in the delegation from China, it was China's first official participation in the World Expo.

In 1915, China participated in the Panama World Exposition and won awards for its Moutai alcohol and Keya Aquavit produced by Zhangyu Vintage Company. Moutai alcohol received much acclaim and was awarded second prize as an alcoholic beverage. Keya Aquavit was awarded four gold medals and the top award, so it was renamed Golden Award Aquavit.

Thereafter, war restricted China's attendance at the World Expos. It was not until the 1982 America Knoxville World Expo that China returned to the World Expo circuit. 

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