Splendid China, the controversial theme park in Florida charged with spreading Chinese propaganda, has announced that it will close operations from December 31, 2003, citing “continued downturn in the tourism economy.”

In an announcement on December 30, 2003, it said, “Florida Splendid China Theme Park will discontinue operations in Central Florida as of the close of business on December 31, 2003. This determination was reached primarily due to the continued downturn in the tourism economy, as evidenced by the closing of other tourism-dependent businesses in the area. Despite several years of attempting to achieve successful theme park operations, the company has concluded that it could not longer continue to incur significant losses. To our friends and supporters, we express extreme regret that this action has become necessary.”

Splendid China, which began operations in Florida in December 1993, was patterned after the original Splendid China in Shenzhen, China. Its special features were replicas of some of China’s historical sites like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Leshan Buddha. However, what made the park controversial was the inclusion of sites from Tibet, Inner Mongolia and East Turkestan among the exhibits as they were misleading and depicted a highly sanitized portrayal of Tibetans, Mongols and Uighurs. Nearly half of its 60 exhibits featured idyllic scenes of “minorities” and religions, including the Potala Palace of Tibet.

“It is ironic that China sees fit to exploit Tibetan cultural heritage at the same time it is systematically undermining and destroying it,” said Prof. June Teufel Dreyer, Director of East Asian Programs at the University of Miami and author of China’s Forty Millions, a seminal book on minorities in China, when the park opened in 1993.

Organizations, including the International Campaign for Tibet and Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda (CACCP), supporting the Tibetans, Uighurs and the Mongols launched a campaign against the park. CACCP undertook a regular public campaign in front of the park to educate the visitors.The park was a joint venture of American Eastern International Corp. of Los Angeles and China Travel Services Ltd. of Hong Kong, which promotes tourism to China. In 1994 China Travel Services assumed complete control of the park.