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China is rebuilding the Titanic

In 1912 the Titanic, considered unsinkable, collided with an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic. More than 1500 passengers died on the maiden voyage of the luxury ship, which was considered a prime example of modern technology.

The story of the Titanic has become a legend. Not least thanks to the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

The Chinese investor Su Shaojun is possibly one of the biggest fans of the film and especially the ship. A few years ago, Su announced that he wanted to finance a faithful copy of the legendary steamer that would keep the memory of the Titanic alive, as the AFP reported. "We're building a museum for the Titanic," he told the news agency.

Amusement parks like the Shanghai Disney Resort here are very popular in China

An expensive pleasure

The 260 meter long ship is said to be the main attraction in the Romandisea amusement park in the Chinese province of Sichuan. It should be open to the public at the end of the year. The night on the luxury liner copy costs up to 2000 yuan, the equivalent of about 256 euros.

The ship will not be seaworthy and will be docked on the Quijang River. Nevertheless, it has fully functional steam engines, which are intended to give guests the feeling of really being on the high seas. The theme park copy is modeled on the original down to the smallest detail: from the cabin fittings to the door handles.

In addition, according to AFP, the tour buses in the amusement park "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion, the theme song of the 1997 blockbuster, will play in a loop. James Cameron's blockbuster was a huge success in China, as well as in Europe and the USA.

The replica of the Titanic is not finished yet

A new documentary in China has also brought the history of the ship further into the national spotlight. The film "The Six" by director Arthur Jones tells of six Chinese travelers who survived the maiden voyage. The film was released on April 16, 2021, one day after the 109th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

The Titanic replica in Romandisea is one of the latest additions to China's booming amusement park industry. AECOM, a provider of technical and corporate management support services, published China Theme Park Pipeline Report in 2018. It assumed that China's theme parks would welcome 230 million visitors over the next two years and generate around twelve billion US dollars, almost ten billion euros, in ticket sales, an increase of 367 percent compared to 2010.

While the pandemic generally slowed the industry, the theme park industry was expected to spike as Chinese citizens have fewer opportunities to travel outside the country.

Reason to worry?

In the past, however, the Titanic project has also attracted criticism: According to some members of the British Titanic Society, who told the Chinese investor in 2017, it was insensitive to turn a tragedy in which people lost their lives into an attraction for an amusement park Accused bad taste.

Among them is Jean Legg, whose father was a steward on the original ship. "If he knew that it was being recreated, he would probably turn around in his grave," Legg told the BBC at the time. "You're using the Titanic because of the tragedy - that's staggering."

The BBC reported that the original plan for the attraction involved a simulated iceberg crash - an idea from Mr. Su. However, this project was dropped.

In a recent statement to DW, Titanic Society member David Scott-Beddard said that "Mr. Su and his team have assured our members that these concerns will be addressed. It will be interesting to see how authentic the ship will be. once it's done. Like many other Titanic enthusiasts, we hope it will help keep the ship's history and the memories of the people who died in the disaster alive. "

Big competition

Construction of the copy began six years ago. It takes twice as long as the original. The new Titanic should be ready by 2019, but the project has been delayed by two years. The construction costs for the ship alone now amount to 1 billion yuan, around 127 million euros. The cost of the entire project now amounts to 10 billion yuan, around 1.2 billion euros. The Chinese investor is hoping for up to five million visitors to compensate for the exorbitant costs. "I hope this ship will be here in 100 or 200 years," said Su.

The replica should be ready in 2019. Completion will, however, be delayed by two years.

There's yet another replica of the Titanic, funded by Australian billionaire and controversial mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Titanic II has been under construction since 2012, but unlike its counterpart in Romandisea, it was intended to be a fully functional ship capable of long voyages. The seaworthiness date planned for 2016 was not met and was postponed to 2022.

Adaptation: Annabelle Steffes-Halmer