China now has what is billed as the world's largest building - a vast, wavy rectangular box of glass and steel.

The building will house shops, hotels, offices and a faux ocean beach with a huge LED screen for video sunsets.

The mammoth New Century Global Centre that opened last month in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu has 1.7 million square metres (19 million square feet) of floor space - edging out the previous record-holder, the Dubai airport.

The New Century project is a sign that China's growth has spread from the country's more prosperous eastern and southern regions to the west.

Wages are lower there and the central government has encouraged development with subsidies and tax breaks.

With its booming economy, China has become home to some of the largest and tallest buildings in the world.

Backed by local governments, the building in a planned urban district south of Chengdu aims to boost the global stature of the capital city of Sichuan province, known for its spicy cuisine.

The new structure is half a kilometre long, 400 metres wide and 100 metres high. Once fully completed, the centerpiece of the building will be a water park with a 400-metre coast and beaches under a gigantic glass dome.

Up to 6,000 visitors at a time will be able to sunbathe, play in a wave pool, sip cocktails or feast on seafood.

A 150 by 40 metre LED screen will rise above a section of water with videos of an ocean horizon. The centre will include two five-star hotels as well as high-end boutiques set in a replica of a Mediterranean town under faux blue skies.

The shopping section has been open to the public since late June, though the building's office space has been occupied for some time. The building also has a 14-screen cinema and an ice rink.