BEIJING, China - One of China's tallest buildings has opened for business in the nation's 'wealthiest village' of Huaxi, a symbol of the country's breakneck economic growth, officials and state press said Monday.
The Longxi International Hotel is 328 meters (1,082-feet) high and cost $470 million to build, an official in Huaxi told AFP.
There are around 10 taller buildings in China -- including the Shanghai World Financial Center, the third highest in the world -- but all of these are in major cities.
Huaxi, however, is still classed as a village in east China's Jiangsu province despite having expanded significantly over the years, engulfing nearby villages and its population growing to 50,000 from 1,600 in the 1960s.
Once a poor farming community, it has boomed during the past 30 years of China's economic reform.
Dubbed a "model socialist village", Huaxi's wealth is based on the collective funds of registered households who have amassed money in industries such as steel and textiles.
Most household revenues are reinvested into further projects on a mandatory basis, keeping the cycle going.
According to the official China Daily newspaper, 200 village households are shareholders in the 74-storey, five-star hotel, each providing 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) in capital for the project.
"The building is a symbol of collectivism," the paper quoted Zhou Li, Huaxi's deputy Communist Party secretary, as saying.
But some critics dispute the village's "socialist" labelling, saying it has instead become a symbol of capitalism in the communist state.
Huaxi Group, the corporation that manages the village's business, has 2,000 shareholders -- all registered residents. Non-residents are not allowed to be shareholders, even if they work there.
According to the official who spoke to AFP, the village's success has become a focal point for a long-standing nationwide government campaign to "study the Huaxi experience".
The hotel is expected to accommodate businessmen engaging in the village's vast industries, officials coming to study the Huaxi model, as well as flocks of tourists visiting the region, he said.
The building also includes a revolving restaurant, a rooftop swimming pool, mall, theatre, spa and an ox made of a ton of gold on the 60th floor.