Arc de Undies: Chinese skyscraper is just pants

It was billed as China's answer to the Arc de Triomphe - a spectacular £445 million ($692 million) British-designed skyscraper paying homage to the country's turbo-charged economic rise, London's Telegraph reports.

But even before the 74-storey Gate to the East is completed it has come under attack from critics who compare it not to the famous Parisian war memorial but with a pair of "giant underpants".

In Suzhou, 72 kilometres west of Shanghai, the 246-metre-high skyscraper is the work of British architecture firm RMJM, founded in Edinburgh in 1956.

Initially, the Chinese media labelled the project an "Arc de Triomphe of the East". But the tone changed this week following a torrent of online criticism.

"Is it an arch or just plain pants?" wondered the front page of the Shanghai Daily.

Headline writers at state-run news agency Xinhua were more direct. "New giant tower branded 'pants'," they wrote.

"This should be called the Pants of the East, not the Gate of the East," complained one user of China's Twitter-like micro-blog Weibo.

Another blogger suggested walking through the Gate of the East would be "humiliating", "like being forced to crawl between someone's legs."

Some were more risque with their critiques, pointing out that London's phallus-like "Little Cucumber" - Norman Foster's 30 St Mary Axe or Gherkin project - would fit snugly inside Suzhou's Gate to the East. "Together, together!" cooed one of the raunchier posts.

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