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China to build Neverland ranch

SHANGHAI, July 9 – A group of businesspeople are proposing to build a replica of Michael Jackson\’s Neverland Ranch on an island north of Shanghai as a tribute to the late singer, state media reported Thursday.

The 100 million-yuan (14.6 million-dollar) replica would be the centrepiece of an agricultural sightseeing park where visitors will be able to sample rural cuisine and listen to Chinese folk music performances, the Shanghai Daily reported.

"We believe the farmland, without the Neverland Ranch, would be too plain," Qiu Xuefan, a chamber of commerce representative for businesspeople from the eastern manufacturing city of Wenzhou told the newspaper.

"We think it would be a good idea to build a place for Chinese fans to remember him," Qiu was quoted as saying, adding inspiration for the replica came after Jackson\’s death last month.

The report did not specify which parts the group planned to recreate from Jackson\’s former ranch, which featured a zoo, an amusement park and cinema.

At 667,000 square metres (165 acres), the replica ranch would be one seventeenth the size of the original, the report said, adding the first phase of the project on Chongming Island could be completed as soon as next year.

Wu Pei, another member of the Wenzhou Chamber of Commerce, said the group had contacted people close to Jackson about buying memorabilia for the ranch.

She told the newspaper the group did not believe the Jackson estate would oppose the replica ranch.

"We believe Jackson\’s cultural relics belong to the whole world," she said. "We don\’t think there will be a problem with intellectual property rights."

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