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The infamous Guan Yu statue in Jingzhou City in China is finally being taken away after complaints it was ugly and exceeded local height restrictions. Photo: Handout

China orders relocation of giant bronze statue at a staggering cost of US$23 million after complaints from locals that it was an eyesore

  • A Chinese state owned company erected the 58-metre tall statue in 2016
  • After repeated complaints about the statue, the central government ordered its relocation
A controversial, gigantic statue of famous Chinese general Guan Yu in central China is being dismantled after Beijing called it vain and wasteful and ordered its removal last year.

Workers in Jingzhou, Hubei province have already removed the head of the 58-metre tall statue as its owner, the state-owned Jingzhou Tourism Investment and Development Group, started relocating it to a new site eight kilometres away, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

The statue cost more than 170 million yuan (US$26.3 million) to build as a monument to Guan Yu, a military leader during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280) who was later deified, the company is now spending another 155 million yuan (US$23.9 million) to move it to a suburban tourist precinct nearby.

Dubbed the world’s biggest bronze statue of the general, it was completed in 2016 with the ambition of being included in the Guinness World Records, but was subsequently reviled by locals and the central government.

The builders of the statue had ambitions to make it into the Guinness World Records. Photo: Handout

Guan has long been a major part of Jingzhou’s tourism appeal as the site of one of his most famous battles is there. But the giant statue, which sits on top of an 8,000 square metre museum, has been widely criticised as a vanity project and a waste of money.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said it “ruined the character and culture of Jingzhou as a historic city” and demanded its removal in September last year.

According to project information later released by the Jingzhou government, the company behind the statue agreed to move the statue to Dianjiangtai, which is said to be where Guan Yu once drilled his troops.

The statue is currently located in an area where local regulations ban buildings higher than 24 metres.

Removal of the statue has now begun. Photo: Weibo

Local authorities initially allowed the construction of the statue as they thought a statue attached to a building would not be covered by the height limit, CCTV reported.

“We thought there should be a limit on the height of buildings, but there was no specific rule on statues,” said Qin Jun, deputy head of the Jingzhou Municipal Bureau of Natural Resources and Planning.

Zhang Hong, deputy head of the Jingzhou Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, said the entire point of making the statue so large was to attract visitors.

“We had an impulse and tendency to make Guinness World Record back then. So it became bigger during the designing process,” he told CCTV.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Giant general forced to retreat to suburban tourist area