BEIJING (AFP) - The official mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist Party condemned an outbreak of giant yellow ducks across the country Monday, after imitations of an artwork in Hong Kong landed in several cities.
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's 16.5 metre tall yellow inflatable has been a sensation in both Hong Kong and mainland China since it was installed 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 attract potential customers to their projects.
In an editorial the People's Daily, China's most-circulated newspaper, condemned the imitators for betraying what it said was Hofman's own 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" it 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 pointed out, 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 in the editorial, which appeared both in print and online editions.
For those who want a giant rubber duck of their own, China's vast army of manufacturing firms has moved to meet demand.
One company, 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 (S$576.40), one of the size of Hofman's is 118,000, and the biggest bird of all, a 20-metre monster duck, costs 149,800 yuan.