This takes “shanzhai” to a whole new level

We all know that this country — and this region, in particular — is ground zero for knockoffs, or shanzhai goods.  It’s fantastic: we can find knockoff DVDs, handbags, computer software, clothes, cell phones, iPads, video games, and jewellery.  On the downside, we’re also likely eating a daily dose of fake food and imbibing in fake booze.  But you take the good with the bad.

This will all seem very quaint once the PRD town of Huizhou’s plan is finished:  a complete replica of an entire Austrian town called Hallstatt.  CNNGo fills us in:

Named “Hallstatt See,” the Chinese replica village will be situated in Boluo county in Huizhou in Guangdong Province. The area shares similar geographic features with Hallstatt.

Construction began two months ago and is set to be completed in 2017.

“The Chinese will replicate absolutely everything, not only the buildings,” reports Gizmodo. “Every detail, statue and doorknob will be replicated.”

Hallstatt See will cost RMB 6 billion to build. It is expected to become a major tourist attraction and real estate hot spot in the Pearl River Delta region.

While the Chinese Hallstatt has generated mixed opinion among Western media, Hallstatt’s mayor, Alexander Scheutz, takes China’s cloning as “a compliment to our village.”

The mayor’s response was a bit more tepid than some reaction by actual residents of Hallstatt.  The Independent from London interviewed a few for their thoughts:

The Hallstatters have concluded that a team of Chinese “spies” must have mingled among the estimated 800,000 tourists who visit the village each year. They are believed to have taken hundreds of photographs for use as the basis for the housing scheme in the town of Huizhou, north of Hong Kong.

Monika Wenger, the proprietor of a 400-year-old inn in Hallstatt said most villagers she had talked to were “outraged – not about the fact but the approach” taken by the Chinese. “I don’t like the idea a team was here for years measuring, photographing and studying us,” she said, “I would have expected them to approach us directly – the whole thing reminds me of Big Brother.”

Mrs Wenger found out about the Huizhou project only earlier this month. A Chinese woman staying at her hotel allowed her to look at drawings she had of Hallstatt’s market and other key landmarks which, she revealed, were due to be faithfully reproduced in China.

The recreated village is being done by Minmetals, one of China’s big mining companies.  If you want to check it out, the first stage is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
If China’s feeling up to it, perhaps the next thing they could “faithfully reproduce” would be In-n-Out Burger.
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