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Peking duck not all it's quacked up to be
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 06, 2013

China's first authentic version of the giant Rubber Duck that has made a splash around the world and inspired fakes across the country made its debut Friday -- but some complained that visitors had to pay to see it.

The inflatable yellow bird -- which has made appearances from Australia to South America since 2007 -- attracted huge attention in China after it arrived in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour to rave reviews, bobbing up and down in front of the city's distinctive urban skyline.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman promotes the oversized toy's universal appeal on his website as knowing "no frontiers" and "soft, friendly and suitable for all ages".

But the artwork took a commercial turn in China, with property developers setting up imitations in Hangzhou, Tianjin and other cities, that was criticised by the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece the People's Daily.

Previous displays of the Rubber Duck 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 city, which costs 100 yuan ($16) to enter.

After a few weeks the duck will shift to the Summer Palace, a tourist spot that also charges an entrance fee.

Expo official Qiao Xiaopeng said there were currently no plans to offer a free day but that the vast grounds -- spanning 246 hectares (600 acres) -- could accommodate large numbers of visitors.

The first crowds were small on Friday. Viewers meandered a pathway on the bank of a river where the duck floated before a backdrop of flowers and greenery spelling out in large letters: "International Garden Expo".

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," said Kang.

The duck looked smaller than she expected, Kang added -- even though the Beijing version was made to be 18 metres (59 feet) high, compared with 16.5 metres in Hong Kong.

Most ducks have ranged from five to 15 metres although one in France reached 26 metres, according to Hofman's website.

Wu Yiying, 26, said the entrance fee was reasonable because she could see the expo and photograph the real duck.

The fakes were good "for people in other places who can't come to Beijing or Hong Kong, if they really want to see it," she said.

"But ultimately the designer designed this and we should respect what he created."

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".


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