NANCHANG: China’s largest private property developer, the Wanda Group, opened an entertainment complex on Saturday that it’s positioning as a distinctly homegrown rival to Disney and its $5.5 billion Shanghai theme park opening next month.
Wanda executives unveiled their $3 billion “Wanda City” in the southeastern provincial capital of Nanchang to thundering music reminiscent of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme and hailed the centre as a representative of Chinese entertainment culture in the face of encroaching foreign influences.
Wanda’s massive site includes an $800 million China-themed park filled with twirling “porcelain teacup” rides and bamboo forests, an indoor shopping mall with cinemas, restaurants, hotels and the world’s largest ocean park. Disney is set to open its own resort in Shanghai — the largest Disneyland in the world — in June.
As a leading player in Chinese firms’ globalisation push, the property group has invested heavily in the film and cinema business and has spoken openly about its nationalistic mission to fend off Disney in the Chinese market and become an entertainment brand recognised around the world.
In remarks at Saturday’s opening, Wang Jianlin, Wanda chairman and China’s richest man, did not mention Disney by name but said Chinese people “fawned” over Western imports.
“Chinese culture led in the world’s for 2,000 years, but since the last 300 years, because of our lagging development and the invasion of foreign cultures, we have more or less lacked confidence in our own culture,” Wang said.