These days, Shanghaiist is rarely surprised about anything that happens in China. However, we did think that this news story did come from a little out of left-field. A Henan-based investor group is constructing a 21-kilometre (13 mile) long metal Chinese dragon as a tourist attraction. The dragon’s body forms a nine-metre (27-foot) high wall running along a ridge-line, with the dragon’s head rising 10-metres (30-feet) above the surrounding land. This project plans to cover the metal structure in 5.6 million pieces of white marble and gilded bronze to form the dragon’s scales which Xinhua reports should be “symbolic of the country’s 56 ethnic groups”. The dragon construction is planned to finished by 2009 to mark the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The investor group states that advertising space on the giant serpent also will be sold and tourists can pay to have their names and other messages inscribed on the walls of galleries located inside.
All of this sounds super-tacky to this little Shanghaiist.
So where is this monster located? In the Shizu Mountain National Forest Park, just outside the Henan capital, Zhengzhou. National Forest Park… hmm.
Not surprisingly, there is a little controversy. The (forever-blocked) BBC News reported that there are moves to stop this incredulous construction situated on top of the Shizu Mountain National Forest Park due to environmental concerns. Here’s an excerpt of their story.
The Henan Environmental Protection Agency says it has sent a team to investigate the project that started without the necessary environmental assessments, Xinhua news agency reported.
“If the project fails our assessment, we will order it be stopped or the demolition of the completed part,” an unidentified official with the administration was quoted as saying.
An online survey showed more than 90% of respondents disapproved of the dragon, Xinhua said.
“The planned dragon is like an expressway which will damage vegetation, affect the landscape and destroy the local ecological system,” Wu Mingzuo, director of Henan Ecology Society, was quoted as saying.
“Shizu mountain is a symbol of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who is considered the earliest ancestor of China,” the Shanghai Daily quoted Dai Songcheng, director of the Henan institute of culture, as saying.
“Such an immense structure on the mountain top is disrespectful to Huangdi.”
Shanghaiist also believes this is a little disrespectful to the concept of a National Forest Park as well. However, there is the suggestion that the dragon structure could help minimise the impact of sand storms on the nearby capital. USA Today’s Weather blogger had this to say about the concept.
The weather connection is that the 13-mile long dragon sculpture could help protect the city from the tremendous sandstorms that blow in from the north each spring. Located south-east of the Gobi Desert, the city of Zhengzhou is apparently quite vulnerable to sandstorms. Although the sculpture doesn’t seem that tall in the photo, it may very will be high enough to protect the city. Sandstorms rarely rise more than 50 feet above the ground, in contrast to duststorms, which can rise much higher in the atmosphere.
Henan’s capital Zhengzhou sounds more and more like a bit of a wacky place to hang out in. Apart from building giant dragon sand breaks, the fun-loving residents of Zhengzhou have been up to quite a number of activities recently like giant face sculpture competitions and organising baijiu-influenced nude runs for the sake of the environment. Oh, then there’s the odd student hullabaloo, and don’t try and be a HIV/AIDS activist there either, you might embarrass someone.