In the 70's ping pong diplomacy helped open China's door to the U.S. as American table tennis players took on their Chinese counterparts in strategically staged matches. Today it seems that teddy-bear diplomacy may do the same thing for Chinese and British relationships with the announcement The Great British Teddy Bear Company (GBTBC) will be opening a cuddly wonderland in Beijing.
The British company has partnered with Chinese architectural firm Tenio Architectural Design and the Chinese Government to build a teddy bear themed, 6,600 acre fun park in Beijing's Daxing district.
GBTBC founder Paul Jessop said "families of all generations can visit to interact, create memories and have a British experience." He said visitors to the park will be able to learn about British literature, culture and history through the park which will be marketed as a center for cultural learning.
Jessop said among many other things at the "low-carbon teddy bear paradise," children and their families will be able to experience the "Shakespeare theatre" with teddy bears based on characters from the great British writers plays, and then move onto the Tower of London attraction which will have "Beefeater bears".
But as in most things China and Chinese companies become involved in, money is also a major incentive. The park plays well into the rising demand for the GBTBC brand in China. Of all teddy bears sold in the company's Sherlock Holmes bear is reportedly the biggest seller, due in part to the success of the BBC TV series Sherlock. Other top sellers are themed on well well-known British "personalities", alive and passed, Prince William, Robin Hood and Florence Nightingale.
It is expected 250,000 visitors annually will pay the fee to visit the park and experts say on top of this there are all the money making aspects every theme park has from sales of food and drinks, souvenirs etc.
When asked at today's announcement what was the driving force behind him starting the company back in 2008, Jessop said "We wanted to create a teddy bear with true meaning, one that will be retained and then passed to the next generation. In our understanding of the teddy bear's role in human life, we design them to convey meaning, to bring joy, comfort, and historic preservation, as well as sorrow."