CHINA has been invited to join more than 180 countries taking part in EXPO 2000, the world exposition to be held in Hanover, although Hong Kong is only expected to take part on the event's fringe. The event is expected to attract more than 42 million visitors. Most of the world's nations, together with renowned individuals from the fields of science, art and culture, will gather under the theme 'Mankind-Nature-Technology'. Jobst Fiedler, the Executive Mayor of Hanover, extended the invitation to China two months ago. But he noted: 'As the invitations are being extended only to nations, Hong Kong has not been approached. However, the possibility exists for Hong Kong to contribute to displays or presentations linked to the EXPO 2000 theme.' He elaborated: 'Hong Kong and Hanover already have strong links following the territory's involvement in CEBIT '92 as a guest country.' Hanover has been planning the event for seven years. The event is likely to cost DM2.8 billion (about HK$14.56 billion) to stage. However, the organisers are fairly confident of recouping their costs through ticket sales, tourism and endorsements. Mr Fiedler added: 'EXPO 2000 will give considerable emphasis to the major countries of Southeast Asia.'