Dalian, the capital of Liaoning Province in northern China, has unveiled an RMB 5 billion replica of Venice, with 200 European-style castles, Gondolas and four kilometre-long canals, Xinhua reported.
The colossal construction project, dubbed the “Venice of the East” by local media, is the city’s ambitious move to boost tourism in the area. Boasting that it was the closest thing China had to Venice, Xinhua said the look and the amount of water in the canals were equal to the Italian city.
The announcement of China’s Venice came just days after President Xi Jinping criticized foreign-looking architecture at a Beijing symposium on the arts. Most online comments regarding the Venetian replica asked, “Why does domestic Chinese architecture always copy their foreign counterparts and lack unique, Asian characteristics?”
Judging by the photos of the site shown in the Xinhua report, the Venetian copy looks deserted just two days after its opening, with one, lone Gondola cruising the middle of the shallow canal.