The official mouthpiece of the Communist Party condemned an outbreak of giant yellow ducks across the country yesterday, after imitations of an artwork in Hong Kong landed in several mainland cities.
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's 16.5-metre-tall yellow inflatable has been a sensation in Hong Kong and the mainland since its installation in Victoria Harbour a month ago.
Property developers in several cities - among them Hangzhou , Wuhan and Tianjin , have rushed to install similar, albeit smaller, yellow ducks to draw potential customers to their projects.
In an editorial, the People's Daily condemned the imitators for betraying what it said was Hofman's message.
The duck, it said, was a symbol of "humanity's shared culture and childhood memories, pure art and anti-commercialisation".
Copycat ducks were merely "kitsch" and such unoriginal behaviour "will ruin our creativity and our future and lead to the loss of imagination eventually", the newspaper said.
"The more yellow ducks are there, the further we are from Hofman's anti-commercialisation spirit, and the more obvious is our weak creativity.
"It's good that the rubber duck is popular, but it's sad to see the innovation of our country to go down. We often talk about awareness and confidence in our own culture, but where do they come from? Definitely not from following new trends."
Tourism authorities in Hunan , it noted, have renamed a mountain long known as the "Southern Sky Column" as "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain" after it inspired landscapes in the Hollywood special-effects blockbuster.
"This is not innovation, it's selling our inheritance," the newspaper said.
For those who want a giant rubber duck of their own, the mainland's vast army of manufacturing firms has moved to meet demand.
A firm, KK Inflatable, is selling ducks in multiple sizes, one of them even larger than Hofman's creation, on Taobao, China's biggest shopping website.
A two-metre one costs 2,800 yuan (HK$3,500), one of the size of Hofman's is 118,000 yuan, and the biggest bird of all, a 20-metre monster duck, costs 149,800 yuan.