By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
A Chinese mining tycoon cloned one of Austria's UNESCO World Heritage Sites to attract local tourists.
Can you enforce copyright over an entire town?
The BBC News reports that the Alpine village of Hallstatt, Austria -- a major tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site -- has been replicated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, down to the clock towers and the steep, pointed roofs atop wooden houses.
"The population is amused that such a little place of the region Salzkammergut is important enough to get a copy," Hallstatt mayor Alexander Scheutz said in the clip. (You can view it here.)
The project cost $940 million, according to China Daily, and was conceived by a local "mining tycoon."
To be fair, the project was conceived as a tourist attraction, not a living village. And industry tycoons in developing nations have a long, storied history of imitating the Old Country, for personal or financial means. But never on this scale.
It's certainly not a bit of news that will help China deflect a reputation that it can't innovate on its own, and it raises all sorts of questions about intellectual property and urbanization. (What if China, flush with cash, were indeed to copy one of the world's cities? How would it respond?)
On the other hand, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- especially when those cultural ties are with an increasingly powerful global economic force.
Photo: The real deal. (Oliver Wald/Flickr)
Jun 5, 2012
Bet the population would have preferred they just got on and finished Disneyland Shanghai - currently under construction.
this is the same sort of exoticism and romaticised nostalgia that led US millionaires to disassemble European castles stone by stone and import them to the US - the only difference being that nobody then found it necessary to comment upon the effect these practices might have on the US reputation for innovation. Speaking of which, Andrew, you might want to consider sending the Chinese thoughts of gratitude - in lieu of royalties - every time you make use of a Chinese innovation and wipe yourself after visiting the toilet.... Henri
This really isn't about innovation or a lack thereof. This is about Romanticism and the commercialism of it. Romanticism never goes out of fashion -- just look at Leavenworth, WA, Helen, GA or Frankenmuth, MI. Some Japanese anime mix in romanticized old Europe -- most of Hayao Miyazaki's movies incorporate European themes. All of Las Vegas is covered with romanticism, from Cesar's Palace to the Bellagio, the Venetian to Paris Las Vegas. Think of all the tourists who rode the gondolas in the Venetian. People love to romanticize the past and other cultures.
China likes to copy other peoples creations. This one is pretty cool. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htnavai/articles/20061229.aspx Talk about your big fish in a small pond.