China to host Hello Kitty theme park

The creators of Hello Kitty, Japan's world-famous cartoon icon of cuteness, have agreed to a $230-million outdoor theme park in China, the first on foreign soil, a company spokesman said Monday.

The Hello Kitty-themed amusement park will be completed in the city of Anji, in east China's Zhejiang province, in 2014 under an agreement between Sanrio Co. and its Chinese partner, Sanrio spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu said.

The project, jointly designed by Sanrio and US-based amusement park designer Hettema, will cost 1.5 billion yuan ($230 million) with construction scheduled to start in the second half of this year, the spokesman added.

"We have long received many requests from Asian countries to invest in building a theme park using our characters," Tohmatsu said, adding Sanrio will not make capital investment in the theme park.

Under the licensing agreement, the Chinese partner, a subsidiary of Shanghai Insight Holdings, will build and operate the park while Sanrio will provide its characters and planning, he said.

The theme park will include hotel and catering services.

There is also another plan to build a much smaller indoor amusement park featuring Sanrio characters in Malaysia in 2012.

There are currently two Hello Kitty theme parks in Japan but none overseas.

Born in 1974, Kitty has spawned a massive global industry with sales of 50,000 Kitty products - including dolls, clothes, accessories and homeware - in 109 nations and territories.

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