Apparently China is really into the Little Mermaid. But not the Disney one whose BFF is a fish named Flounder and wants to be part of your world.
The Hans Christian Andersen fairytale is such a huge deal in China that Denmark was able to establish a strong diplomatic relationship with China almost entirely through the famous bronze Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue celebrated its birthday on Friday, and the event was furiously live-tweeted in Mandarin! In 2010, Denmark loaned China their bronze statue for the World EXPO in Shanghai, a gesture that meant, in a small part, a reaffirmation of diplomatic ties.
Denmark's Little Mermaid at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.
The Danish pavilion, where the mermaid was housed in a blue lagoon, was second in popularity only to that of the Chinese pavilion, and during the course of her March-to-November stay, some 5.5 million people visited the little fish-girl there.
“She did such a good job,” former Danish Ambassador to China Christopher Bo Bramsen told me at the time. Indeed, since then, Chinese tourists have been flocking to Copenhagen. Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that an unprecedented 80,000 Chinese traveled to the country in 2011, the year after Shanghai’s “year of the mermaid,” and the numbers have been ever record-breaking. In 2012, Scandinavian Airlines inaugurated two daily, direct routes: from Beijing and Shanghai to Copenhagen.
Who knew the Chinese were so into the Little Mermaid? But if there's one thing that isn't surprising, it's that souvenirs of the Danish statue were probably made in China.