Houston Community News >> Concrete Dragon to Fire Up Tourism in Shanghai

3/27/2007- CHINESE investors are building a 21km concrete dragon to breathe fire into the tourism industry, but some experts have already branded it a cultural gaffe, a newspaper said today.

The dragon, which will wind along the ridge of Shizu mountain in central Henan province, would be finished in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule in 2009, the Shanghai Daily said today.

"The 21km length represents the wish that China will experience rapid development in the 21st century," the Shanghai Daily quoted the project director, Li Xiong, as saying.

The dragon's head would be 30m high and its body 9m high and 6m wide.

Some 5.6 million pieces of white marble and gilded bronze would form scales that "symbolise the country's 56 ethnic groups", the paper said.

Its hollowed out body would have display rooms with a variety of themes, including "filial piety, loyalty, and patriotism".

A light rail to transport tourists to the dragon and a "luxury club" were also part of the plan, the paper said.

About 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) had been spent on the 300 million yuan project, but the figure could balloon to four billion yuan if all suggested designs were used, it said.

The project was under fire from some experts who said it was inappropriate, the paper said.

"Shizu mountain is a symbol of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who is considered the earliest ancestor of China," the paper quoted Dai Songcheng, director of the Henan institute of culture, as saying.

"Such an immense structure on the mountaintop is disrespectful to Huangdi." 

(Contributed by Reuters)