Authorities in the central province of Hubei have begun dismantling a massive statue of the Chinese deity Guan Yu, as it was criticized as a wasteful eyesore by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s disciplinary arm.
The 170 million yuan statue built in 2016 as a tourist attraction by the Jingzhou municipal government has been ordered demolished for violating the city’s historic and cultural protection plan.
A demolition team started work on Tuesday, removing the head of the 57.3-meter statue, before moving onto the shoulders and the interior structure, video footage and news photos showed.
The demolition — which will result in the reconstruction of the statue in a less central location — came as the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) hit out at the statue and other vanity projects built with taxpayers’ money by local governments.
“It’s a waste of more than 300 million yuan (US$46 million) — first, it was constructed illegally, and then removed,” the CCDI said in comments quoted by Sixth Tone.
The removal operation is likely to cost around 155 million yuan, on top of the construction costs for the original statue, it said.
“Mega statues such as Guan Yu — as well as Buddha, and even American actor Marilyn Monroe — have been used by local authorities to attract tourists to their towns,” it said.
Guan Yu, a general of the Three Kingdoms era, was deemed an apt choice for Jingzhou, as he had lost one of his most famous battles there.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that the warrior god had amassed less than 13 million yuan in revenue, and was built in defiance of municipal height restrictions after only partial permission was received for the project.
Waste of public funds
A Jingzhou resident surnamed Mao said he agreed that the project had been a waste of public funds.
“They spent more than 170 million yuan to build that statue of Guan Gong. It’s being demolished now after being exposed by CCTV, and that’s going to cost another 150 million yuan,” Mao said.
“Local governments at all levels are failing to take some of the central government’s orders seriously,” he said. “The people of Jingzhou, myself included, are going to be picking up this bill of more than 300 million yuan.”
Local media reported that Jingzhou CCP municipal party secretary Wu Jin slammed local officials in an August 24 seminar for grabbing power and declining any of the responsibility that comes with it.
A Hubei resident surnamed Zhao said local governments and businesses will always take the opportunity to collude for a profit.
“I saw the relevant reports and I was very angry,” Zhao told RFA. “Regardless of the construction and demolition, there is the issue of vested government and business interests.”
“This is all taxpayers’ money,” she said. “Just think how much good they could have done if they’d spent that amount of money on solving real problems faced by ordinary people.”
The statue will now be relocated to Dianjiangtai, a suburb eight miles to the northwest of the Jingzhou downtown area, according to local media reports.
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