Discuss as:

Chinese village unveils skyscraper taller than the Chrysler Building

A once-sleepy village in the countryside of eastern China celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday by unveiling an incongruous addition to its skyline: a skyscraper taller than the Chrysler Building.

The 74-story Longxi International Hotel towers 328 meters (1,076 feet) above the village of Huaxi and cost 3 billion yuan ($472 million) to build, according to the state-owned China Daily newspaper.

AFP - Getty Images

An aerial photo of the Longxi International Hotel, which stands at 328 meters high and cost $472 million to build, in Huaxi, which is still classified as a village, in east China's Jiangsu province on September 24.

"The building exudes wealth and excess," wrote The Guardian's Jonathan Watts, who was given a tour before the official opening. One of the most impressive features is a one-tonne gold statue of an ox, said to be worth $47.2 million.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A woman stands next to a gold statue of an ox during the official inauguration of the Longxi hotel on Oct. 8. The one-tonne statue greets visitors at a viewing area on the 60th-floor of the tower.

It may model itself on Dubai, but Huaxi is still officially classified as a village. Its original residents, just 2,000 families, have shared in the bonanza of its transformation. Reuters reports that they each have at least $250,000 in the bank, as well as enjoying universal health care and free education. 

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Officials attend the inauguration ceremony of the new skyscraper on October 8. Officials from elsewhere in China tour Huaxi to find out how this once sleepy village, with just 576 residents in the 1950s, could have become so rich.

The rise of Huaxi, which now operates as a conglomerate with interests in steel, shipping, tobacco and textiles, has drawn tens of thousands of migrant workers, Watts reports, but their comparitively meager earnings have left them on the outside looking in.

What remains unclear is where the hotel, with its 826 bedrooms and dining facilities for 5,000 guests, will find its patrons. Local officials confidently predict a tourist rush, but if it does not materialize then their golden ox may come to resemble nothing no much as a great white elephant in the sky.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Guests attend a dinner at the new hotel before its official inauguration on October 8.