Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 13:13 UK

Denmark's Little Mermaid unveiled at Shanghai Expo

Little Mermaid statue in the Danish pavilion, Shanghai (25 April 2010)
The statue is expected to boost visitor numbers to the Danish pavilion

Copenhagen's famous Little Mermaid statue has been unveiled in its new temporary home at the Shanghai Expo.

The statue, making its first trip abroad, forms the centrepiece of the Danish pavilion at the show, which opens later this week.

The decision to move the 96-year-old statue was controversial, but Danish organisers said she was the "ultimate symbol" of the city.

Some 100 million people are expected to visit the Expo in the next six months.

The statue was revealed from beneath a red flag on Sunday, sitting by a pool of water in the modern white building.

Bjarke Ingels, the pavilion's architect, said officials were initially reluctant to let it leave Copenhagen but were persuaded to do so after learning how popular the Hans Christian Andersen story of the mermaid who becomes a human is in China.

"When the Danish politicians learnt that all of the Chinese actually grew up with the mermaid as part of their education, everybody thought it would be a beautiful gesture to send their mermaid to China for six months," he said.

Shanghai deputy mayor Tu Guangshao said people visiting the pavilion to see the statue would be "mesmerised by her beauty".

The mermaid will be replaced in Copenhagen by a video installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which includes a live broadcast of the statue from Shanghai.

The Shanghai Expo is due to open on 1 May and China is expecting some 70 million people - mostly Chinese - to visit before it closes in October.

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