The Kiev in Tianjin, China; All photos: China Daily
Not only is China's rise, for xenophobes anyway, threatening, it's also entertaining. The newest Chinese venture is a mix of both. As China Daily reports, a 1980s Russian aircraft carrier, which was in her previous life the flagship of the Soviet Union's Pacific fleet, has been converted into a floating luxury hotel, complete with the requisite pair of presidential suits, three VIP rooms, and all other manner of extravagances. The Kiev was purchased by Chinese investors over a decade ago, along with two other former Soviet carriers, one of which, the Varyag was upgraded with new guns and technological systems to become China's first fully functional aircraft carrier. Having sufficiently freaked out its maritime neighbors and the US Department of Defense, China has remained, unsurprisingly, hum about its exact plans for the Varyag, aside from saying it will deploy the ship for "research and training." Meanwhile, the fates of the Kiev and its sister ship the Minsk in Shenzhen are decidedly less menacing, each having been sanctioned for recreational purposes.
Now docked at the Binhai aircraft carrier theme park in northern China, the Kiev hotel opened for business at the beginning of the (Western) New Year. Judging from the photos, the rooms have been treated with that special kind of tackiness that only money can buy. Each of the rooms has been outfitted with incandescent tile floors, shimmering curtains, and Louis XIV-inspired patterned wallpaper--all of which work to magnify the little natural light that graces the interiors. A large upscale dining room will serve Western food, while crew dressed in naval digs attend to guests' every whim.