Real-estate tycoon Pan Shiyi unveiled his 'Panbi' banknotes on his microblog, saying he hoped the central bank wouldn't mind. (Photo Courtesy of Pan Shiyi's microblog)
Pan Shiyi, chairman of Soho China, the largest real-estate developer in Beijing, said on his Sina Weibo microblog on Wednesday that he would like to publish a currency of his own — featuring his likeness — in a move which his detractors have responded to with both anger and ridicule.
After the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs earlier this month, Pan courted controversy by saying the best way to honor the memory of Jobs would be for Apple to offer its bestselling iPad and iPhone for under 1,000 yuan (US$157).
Pan's remarks were slammed as disrespectful by internet users in China, who said Pan should offer affordable real-estate prices after he himself passes away.
"If Mr Pan passes away, please offer houses below 1,000 yuan per square meter. More than one billion people will remember you," one said.
On Wednesday, Pan unveiled his Panbi, or Pan currency, on his microblog feed. His one-Pan bill looks suspiciously like a Chinese 100-yuan note, except with a picture of Pan on the front instead of Mao Zedong.
After his Panbi was released on his microblog, Pan discovered that his Pan currency had become the hot topic regarding his company. As he arrived at an airport later on, Pan found "almost everybody" appeared to be laughing at him behind his back. "I felt as if I had nothing on," he wrote.
The back of the Panbi features a quote from the Baha'i faith, of which Pan is a prominent practitioner, preaching its tenets on his microblog from time to time. In his latest post, Pan says he hopes China's central bank won't object to the new currency, but officials said it is inappropriate to use images of currency in advertising.
Pan's move is seen as a marketing move for this property projects. In addition to the Baha'i quote, the back of the one-Pan bill features one of his new Wangjing Soho developments in Beijing, Soho China's logo and a sales hotline number.
Netizens ran with the joke, circulating a modified Panbi with a value of one Pan equaling 1,000 yuan per square meter of real estate.
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