China official fells wrong-colored sculpture

BEIJING (Reuters) - A 2 million yuan ($286,000) sculpture in northeastern China that took two years to build was dismantled days before its unveiling because a senior government official disliked the color, local media said on Tuesday.

“Fly,” a show-piece installation at a new airport terminal in China’s northern port city of Tianjin, was taken down after a local vice-mayor took exception to it while touring the terminal three weeks before its opening, a report posted on the official China Central Television (CCTV) Web site said.

“He didn’t like the color. That was enough to seal ‘Fly’s’ death sentence,” the report quoted its designer, Qu Jianxiong, as saying.

The airport sent text messages ordering local media not to report on the dismantling of the installation, photos of which showed a winding metallic structure crowned with colored wings. Journalists also received gag orders by email, it said.

The incident received unusually frank coverage in an investigative report carried by CCTV, however. China’s usually compliant media rarely exposes misdeeds by senior government leaders without official consent.

Chinese officials have previously come under fire for their involvement in exorbitant public-funded works.

Last year, authorities in impoverished central Henan province suspended work on a 300-million yuan 21-km (13 mile) concrete dragon perched on a mountain ridge, because of environmental concerns.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie