Shanghai World Expo will open on Friday

The Shanghai World Expo opening on Friday is the ruling Chinese Communist Party's latest extravagant use of money, underscoring the extent to which it seeks to brandish its power through flashy spectacle.

The government is spending billions of dollars on the Expo - local media estimate some $58 billion if infrastructure is included - transforming an area larger than Monaco into a giant exhibition site, Economic Times reports .

As this massive investment program comes to a head, city officials say that there are around 550,000 hotel beds in Shanghai, 155 of the establishments designated official Expo hotels to hold performers and official visitors.

The World Expo is likely to provide a significant boost to Chinese tourism, which has been growing rapidly for the past decade. In 2007 55 million people visited, making it the fourth most visited country in the world, and the UN World Tourism Organization predicts that it will become the most visited country by 2020, Independent informs.

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