BEIJING -  China’s first authentic version of the giant Rubber Duck that has made a splash around the world and inspired fakes across the country made its debut Friday — but some complained that visitors had to pay to see it.
The inflatable yellow bird — which has made appearances from Australia to South America since 2007 — attracted huge attention in China after it arrived in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour to rave reviews, bobbing up and down in front of the city’s distinctive urban skyline.
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman promotes the oversized toy’s universal appeal on his website as knowing “no frontiers” and “soft, friendly and suitable for all ages”.
But the artwork took a commercial turn in China, with property developers setting up imitations in Hangzhou, Tianjin and other cities, that was criticised by the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece the People’s Daily.
Previous displays of the Rubber Duck have normally been free, but the moneymaking continued with the authentic creation in Beijing as it went on show at the International Garden Expo on the outskirts of the city, which costs 100 yuan ($16) to enter.
After a few weeks the duck will shift to the Summer Palace, a tourist spot that also charges an entrance fee.
Expo official Qiao Xiaopeng said there were currently no plans to offer a free day but that the vast grounds — spanning 246 hectares (600 acres) — could accommodate large numbers of visitors.
The first crowds were small on Friday. Viewers meandered a pathway on the bank of a river where the duck floated before a backdrop of flowers and greenery spelling out in large letters: “International Garden Expo”.
Kang Jing, 26, said she thought viewing the duck should be free, at least for Beijing residents.