26 March 2019
A fake Eiffel Tower looms over the Capital of Heaven housing development, a ghost town near Hangzhou. Photo: Reuters
A fake Eiffel Tower looms over the Capital of Heaven housing development, a ghost town near Hangzhou. Photo: Reuters

China’s international style a chip off the old block

China is one place where you can see much of the world’s landmarks in one country. From the Eiffel Tower to the Sydney Opera House, and London’s Tower Bridge to Washington’s US Capitol, China has reproductions of them all in one form or another.

Take Huaxi, a village in the eastern province of Jiangsu, for instance. It is touted as the mainland’s most well-off village and has a cluster of duplicate global landmarks at one-tenth the original size. A trip to the community offers a look at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Hong Kong’s Bank of China Tower, London’s Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, to name just a few. These replicas were originally used as government office buildings but the projects have been derided as too extravagant for these austere times and after a series of media reports, local cadres there have reportedly turned the whole area into a theme park.

This kind of imitation is nothing new and went unnoticed for many years until Egypt fired off a complaint to the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization over a fresh replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza in an amusement park in Hebei province. The Egyptian government might sue China for infringement of copyright if it is not dismantled, according to media reports. The theme park operator has said it will demolish the fake Sphinx as soon as possible.

Beijing Youth Daily reports that piggybacking on global landmarks is particularly popular among local cadres when they plan new projects and the US Capitol is one of the most popular sources of architectural inspiration. Capitol-like edifices can be found at the buildings of the Shanghai Minhang district court, the Chongqing municipal intermediate court, the Nanjing Yuhua district government, the Xiamen Tongan district government, the Hunan Loudi municipal government and the Jiangxi Jiujiang municipal intermediate court.

The international style is also popular among property developers. At a 3,000 hectare new town development in Hangzhou called the Capital of Heaven, realty developer Guangsha (600052.CN) recreated all of Paris’ major attractions in miniature, including the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum and the Champ de Mars. And in the center of the new town is what else but the Eiffel Tower.

Unfortunately the Capital of Heaven has not been a hit with homebuyers due to its remote location — it has a resident population of just 2,000 despite having a capacity for 100,000 people. Its main claim to fame now is as one of the biggest ghost towns in eastern China.

– Contact the writer at [email protected] 


Shops await customers along the fake Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Photo: Reuters

The Shanghai Minhang district court building borrows heavily from the design of the US Capitol. Photo: NetEase Blog

EJ Insight writer

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