Titanic-obsessed China is building a life-size replica to “inspire responsibility”

January 13, 2014
January 13, 2014

An energy company in China is building a life-size Titanic replica in a remote part of Sichuan province, in another sign of China’s curious and long-standing fascination with the tragic sea vessel. Sichuan Seven Star Energy Investment Group has hired a US firm to help it design a copy of (paywall) based on its sister ship, the RMS Olympic, with a price tag of up to 1 billion yuan ($170 million).

Sichuan Seven Energy Investment Group Chairman Su Shaojun said the purpose of the replica was to “inspire responsibility” (link in Chinese) and reflection on the Titanic’s failings, according to Xinhua. At least the new ship won’t have to worry about icebergs: It will stay moored to a port along the Qi River, serving as a local tourist attraction to boost the local economy. The site, complete with a simulation of the Titanic’s shipwreck in 1912, will take about two years to build, the company said.

Aside from a desire to provide a moral lesson on the fallibility of human endeavors, China’s fascination with the Titanic has long been an attractive business. When the 1997 film by James Cameron was released a second time in China in 2012, it earned $67 million over its first weekend. Most recently, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer who has his own plans to build a replica of the vessel in China that will set sail from Shanghai in 2016, said more than 40,000 people have already expressed interest in buying tickets.

The reason behind China’s particular love for the Titanic story remains something of a mystery. In 2012, the People’s Daily theorized that Chinese viewers were drawn to the film’s fictional love story, a kind of reverse Cinderella tale of a short-lived but romantic affair between a poor artist and a wealthy upperclass woman. Sichuan Seven Star is clearly betting that its Titanic story will have a happier ending.

Jennifer Chiu contributed additional reporting.

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