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China National Pavilion Day marked at Shanghai Expo

Representatives of 56 ethnic groups cheer prior to the flag-raising ceremony to mark the National Pavilion Day for China at at the Shipway Square of Puxi section of the World Expo Park in Shanghai, east China, Oct. 1, 2010, which is also the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. [Xinhua/Guo Lei]

The China National Pavilion Day celebrations started Friday, on the 61st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, at the Shanghai World Expo.

Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo, Vicente Loscertales, Secretary-General of the International Expositions Bureau (BIE), and many Chinese and foreign dignitaries attended the official ceremony at the Expo Center to launch the celebrations.

Wu thanked the governments and peoples of other countries, the BIE and other international organizations and all participants for their great support for the expo.

A flag-raising ceremony was held at the South Square in front of the eye-catching China Pavilion early Friday morning.

"It is a special day, we will do our best to serve the visitors," said Liu Juan, one of the hundreds of China Pavilion staff who watched the ceremony.

"This is my ninth visit to the Expo and third experience of the China Pavilion," said Chen Junlong, a 15-year-old Shanghai native, who was the first visitor to the red crown-shaped building Friday.

"It's a special day and it's worth being here," he said.

Li Zixing, 61, finally managed to get into the pavilion Friday after two previous attempts failed due to too many visitors.

Li, from Sichuan Province in southwest China, and all other visitors to the pavilion received a badge and a postcard especially designed for the day.

Cultural performances featuring drums, Beijing Opera, puppets and other traditional Chinese and ethnic minority arts will entertain visitors while they are waiting at the entrance in long queues.

The China Pavilion, one of the permanent structures to be kept after the Expo ends Oct. 31, has become increasingly popular. Since 35,000 people visited on May 1 when the Expo opened, the pavilion has received more than 7.5 million visitors with an average 52,000 a day.

Visitors can experience the festive atmosphere while watching a pageant of floats in the afternoon, Chinese movies outdoors, and song and dance performances across the Expo park Friday.

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