Chinese Neverland

A $15 million recreation of Michael Jackson’s personal Neverland Ranch is being proposed by a group of Chinese businesspeople as part of an agricultural tourist park to be located on Chonming Island, north of Shanghai, according to the Shanghai Daily.

The original idea behind the park was to allow visitors to sample rural cuisine and listen to performances of Chinese folk music.
However, the Wenzhou consortium behind the plan has expressed reservations and told the newspaper that the farmland would be “too plain” to attract enough visitors.

The Neverland replica would certainly make it more appealing. If the project goes ahead, the ranch could be completed sometime next year.

“We think it would be a good idea to build a place for Chinese fans to remember [Jackson],” chamber of commerce representative Qiu Xuefan told the newspaper.

According to other Chinese media, the design would also incorporate “Chinese characteristics” so the ranch could blend in with the local environment.

The recreation would occupy about 165 acres of land, which is about one-seventeenth the size of the real Neverland Ranch. So far the promoters have not stated which parts of the ranch would be recreated. The chamber of commerce says it is already in touch with people “close to Jackson” about purchasing memorabilia for the ranch. The consortium doesn’t see any problems with receiving permission to build it.

“We believe Jacksons cultural relics belong to the whole world,” one representative said. “We don’t think there will be a problem with intellectual property rights.”

Interviewed by China Daily, the deputy director of Jackson’s Chinese Fan Club, Wei Wei, seemed offended by the proposal.

“If the purpose is simply to pay tribute to Michael,” he said, “I would suggest the investors open it up for free, just as Michael did for the children. Otherwise, they are just making money from it.”