Yacht Christening Gone Bad in Gansu

With global super-luxury brands trying to convince China’s nouveau rich to think bigger and splashier, a 17 million RMB domestically-built yacht had a rough maiden voyage in Gansu province this week. More on the boat’s origins, its downfall and netizens’ reactions from iFeng (via china SMACK):

Yesterday noon at 12:44pm Weibo user @巴蜀秀才 posted on the road claiming that “17 million, to construct this broken boat, dived as soon as it entered the water, isn’t that ridiculous??” the accompanied pictures showed that a boat capsized on the Yellow River, with the stern and the rear-half of the ship in the water, the bow of the ship pointed up 30 degrees. In just a few hours this Weibo had been reposted over 3,400 times.

Yesterday afternoon, reporters contacted Lanzhou city Ministry of Transportation Propaganda chief surname Qiao, who verified this event and explained that “the cause of the event was due to improper handling from the builders who mistakenly estimated the water level causing the water level to exceed the limit, leading to the rear half of the ship to take on water and sink.” October 2nd, the boat was pulled from the water, and is currently under repair. Chief Qiao stressed, the builders should bear the main responsibility for this incident, and that this incident did not produce any casualties, while expressing that, “currently the boat is undergoing repairs and it is estimated that it will launch again in a month.”

Chief Qiao also stated, this boat’s builder is a shipbuilder from Sichuan. But reports showed that “SS Jiugang” commenced construction at Xiaoxia Shipbuilding at Gaolan in Gansu Province, while on September 8th reporters saw the nearly completed “SS Jiugang” at a reservoir at Gaolan County. At the time the ship wheel, gauges and other instruments have been completed. This is contrary to Chief Qiao’s assertion that it was built in Sichuan.

Video of the event surfaced on Sina.com.

As China’s rich get richer and its luxury industry appears primed for expansion, local yacht makers have jumped in the water with their western counterparts. Some are export-oriented manufacturers for international brands that turned inward during the financial crisis and built up their own domestic brands, according to a report last year in the China Daily.

Even provincial governments are jumping on board, though at their own peril.  Last week, AFP detailed online outrage towards officials in Zhejiang who claimed they used government funds to purchase a yacht for the purposes of tax collection:

The zjol.com.cn news website, which is run by authorities in Zhejiang, quoted tax official Fang Yongjun as saying the yacht’s two decks had been converted for use as a tax collection office.

The tax bureau needs the yacht because many local businesses operate on the Thousand Island Lake, a national tourist area, the report said.

It quoted the yacht’s builder Ma Xiaochun as saying the 2.71 million yuan ($555,000) price tag was low compared with other boats on the lake.

But netizens were unconvinced. “Do they need a helicopter for tax collection in the mountains?” asked one web user on Netease.com, a popular Chinese portal.

Public spending has come under growing scrutiny this year after Beijing ordered central government departments to publish details of their expenditure on cars, foreign trips and receptions.

See additional CDT coverage of China’s wealthy elites and how they spend their fortunes on art collectionscars and fake helicopters.