Shanghai will launch a nationwide search for up to 30,000 'Expo stars', or model citizens, to take part in promotions for the 2010 World Expo. Shanghai World Expo Co-ordination Bureau deputy head Chen Xianjin said the campaign was aimed at raising people's awareness of environmental protection and a healthy lifestyle, ideas echoed in the 'Better City, Better Life' Expo theme. People from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are eligible to apply to be an Expo star, as are foreigners living and working in China. Mr Chen said those chosen would probably attend promotional shows, Expo ceremonies and hand out 'star seeds' to visitors during the fair to promote the Expo's ideals. Another Expo official said the star idea was borrowed from the Olympic torch-bearers, but participation would be broadened to many segments of society, including migrant workers. 'Most Olympic torch-bearers were outstanding people, but we would like to encourage more regular people to join in as well,' Expo market development official Zhang Jun said. Mr Zhang did not elaborate on the criteria, but said the Expo bureau would invite all 29 sponsors, including state-owned and foreign companies, to select the stars in accordance with their own standards. He added that Expo organisers also planned to hold a gala in the middle of next month to encourage people to apply for star selection. Apart from the stars, Shanghai will need about 100,000 volunteers, mostly university students, to serve the expected 70 million tourists visiting the Expo, a six-month event that will open on May 1, 2010. To date, 183 countries and 45 international organisations have confirmed their participation, with Iceland one of the latest to make a pledge, two months behind schedule because of the global financial crisis. Expo director general Hong Hao reaffirmed his confidence by saying no countries or organisations had pulled out. Media reports said the United States had yet to sign a contract because the government was still raising funds to participate.