Hello Kitty has officially climbed on board China’s official “reform and opening up” bandwagon, adding an animated Japanese element to the government’s much ballyhooed agenda for advancing socialism with Chinese characteristics.
China’s State Council even held a press conference to help promote the cartoon cat-themed project, alerting the media last Friday that Hainan Province would, in fact, be building a Hello Kitty-branded amusement park. The park, to be called “Hainan Hello Kitty Paradise” and expected to reel in the “parent-child tourism” crowd found in abundance on China’s version of Hawaii, will cost a reported RMB 11 billion ($1.6 billion), and is one of 12 key pilot projects being built on Hainan Island.
The park, slated for Haitang Bay, in Sanya, is being built by Hong Kong’s Fude Group Holdings, which is headed by Pan Jiade, son of the popular entrepreneur Pan Zhengzhou who fled Hainan for Hong Kong as a teenager, made his fortune, and has since become a leading investor in the mainland.
It will not be the first Hello Kitty theme park in China, either. An indoor Hello Kitty park had been scheduled to open in Shanghai in October, and was supposed to have combined nostalgia for the city’s history and fashion with the fun of Hello Kitty, who, according to varying accounts could be either an actual kitten or a British schoolgirl called Kitty White who lives outside of London.
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