China yesterday welcomed its first authentic version of the giant Rubber Duck that has made a splash around the world and inspired fakes across the country — but there were complaints visitors had to pay to see it.
The inflatable yellow bird by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, which has made appearances from Australia to South America since 2007, attracted huge attention in China after photos of it were taken bobbing in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.
The artwork soon took a commercial turn in China, with property developers setting up imitations in Hangzhou, Tianjin and other cities, acts that were criticized by the ruling Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily.
Its previous displays have normally been free, but the moneymaking continued with the authentic creation in Beijing as it went on show at the International Garden Expo on the outskirts of the capital city, which costs 100 yuan (US$16) to enter.
After a few weeks the duck will shift to the Summer Palace, a tourist spot that also charges an entrance fee. There are currently no plans to offer a free day, but the expo offers a vast space to accommodate large numbers of visitors, expo official Qiao Xiaopeng said.
However, the first crowds were small yesterday.
Kang Jing, 26, said she thought viewing the duck should be free, at least for Beijing residents.
“That would let more people come see it, which would be better,” she said.
The duck was not completely inflated by the time of its debut, its beak somewhat limp and body tilting forward.
“It should be fatter and cuter,” Kang said.
The duck looked smaller than she expected, Kang added — even though the Beijing version was made to be 18m high, compared with the 16.5m version in Hong Kong.
A well-known restaurant, Quanjude, sought to take advantage of the installation by using it to advertise its own showpiece, Peking duck.
A sign at the expo entrance showed the artwork in a chef’s hat with the words: “Come see the big yellow duck and eat a Quanjude duck burger.”