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When Is a Giant Inflatable Duck Not a Giant Inflatable Duck?

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's massive, inflatable duck (named, appropriately, "Rubber Duck") has graced rivers and ports around the world.

And apparently, it's caught the eye of China's copy-cats. At least ten counterfeit replicas have popped up across China, in cities like Wuhan, Tianjin, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and others. Some look remarkably similar to Hofman's creation, others don't at all.

Chinese officials aren't happy with this latest developmment. An article in China Daily says:

Unscrupulous imitation of others is simply not the path for a country that wants to boost cultural confidence and build soft power.

In People's Daily, the press arm of the national communist party, an editorial argues:

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.

The big ducks have been particularly popular among developers looking to lure people to their properties, but anyone can purchase one if they wish. One company, KK Inflatable, is selling theirs on Taobao, a popular shopping website in China. A duck the size of Hofman's costs 118,000 yuan ($19,200 USD) while a 65-foot tall duck goes for $24,400. A nearly 7-foot tall duck costs $456. Air pumps are sold separately.

One month since the counterfeits first emerged, they're still being spotted. Via Reuters, a look at some of the inflatable ducks seen around China since Hofman's visited Hong Kong:


A dog lies on the ground in front of a scaled replica of the rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, in Tianjin municipality. (Reuters) 


People set up a giant 15-meter-high inflatable rubber duck in a river in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. (Reuters)


Employees try to push a scaled replica of the rubber duck by Florentijn Hofman away from lakeside at a park in Shenyang, Liaoning province. (Reuters)


A scaled replica of the "Rubber Duck" by Florentijn Hofman is seen along a street next to a vendor waiting for customers in Shanghai. (Aly Song/(Reuters) 


A worker walks in water after setting up a scaled replica of the rubber duck by Florentijn Hofman, on an artificial lake in Luoyang, Henan province. (Reuters)


People set up a giant 15-meter-high inflatable rubber duck in a river in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. (Reuters)


People set up a giant 15-meter-high inflatable rubber duck in a river in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. (Reuters)

Keywords: Public Art, China

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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