Shanghai welcomed a visiting World Expo team with pledges that the city could spend up to US$25 billion (HK$195 billion) on its bid to hold the international fair in 2010. Banners flew alongside major roads while brightly coloured billboards promoted the city's campaign to host Expo 2010. Major newspapers in the city carried a front-page story and photograph of President Jiang Zemin's meeting in Beijing on Monday with Carmen Sylvain, chief of the delegation from the Bureau of International Expositions. Mr Jiang told the team from the Paris-based organisation that China was capable of hosting the 'best ever exposition'. During its Beijing stop on Monday, the delegation was also received by Premier Zhu Rongji and State Councillor Wu Yi in high-profile treatment normally reserved for heads of state. In Shanghai yesterday, the group was given a tour of the proposed venue for the exposition and the first of a series of briefings on the city's planning, according to local officials. Mayor Chen Liangyu has been a major backer of the plan to host the exposition and he is likely to be point man during the meetings. 'Mayor Chen Liangyu has vowed to spend US$2.5 billion on the construction of venues for the World Expo,' said Wan Minmin, a spokeswoman for the Shanghai Government's information office. The mayor has also said that spending on infrastructure upgrades, the development of commercial districts and the restructuring of old urban districts in Shanghai could be five to 10 times that figure. While some of that additional expense would probably be incurred even if Shanghai failed to win the event, officials are eager to put the city firmly on the world map. An event such as the expo would also give the city's economy a healthy boost, officials say. Shanghai is also eager not to be eclipsed by Beijing, which won the right to host the 2008 Olympics. It is one of six cities competing to host the 2010 World Expo. Its toughest competitor is expected to be Moscow. The other bidders are Buenos Aires, Mexico's Queretaro, Yosu in South Korea and the Polish city of Wroclaw. The decision will be made in December. Mr Jiang was quoted as saying: 'China will spare no effort in its bid to host the 2010 World Exposition to increase mutual understanding with the people of other countries and make a contribution to world peace and development.' He also told the Expo team that Shanghai's successful hosting of the Fortune Global Forum in 1999 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings last year showed 'the Chinese people have the ability to host the best-ever World Expo'.