In China, fake cities are sprouting up everywhere. The Chinese don’t have to go to Paris anymore. It has come to them.
The district of Tianducheng aka “Sky Capital City” in Zhejiang province is a real estate development modeled after the city of lights. It’s a bizarre mix of Parisian townhouses, fountains from the palace of Versailles and an Eiffel Tower clone, a third the size of the original.
“I think [it’s] a little strange,” Rachel Ni, who moved to Tianducheng six years ago, told ABC News’ “Nightline.”
“No people will think it’s cool, no people. And some people, I think, want this removed. It’s fake. It’s not the true [one],” Ni said.
“I don’t like it here.”
But it’s not just Tianducheng where you can get a taste of a western city. Just 2-hour drive to the city of Suzhou will show you unique architecture and waterways and dozens of duplicated bridges. A mutated clone of London’s famed Tower Bridge boasts four towers instead of two.
And outside of Beijing, past the Great Wall, there is a version of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, complete with cowboys, a church and Route 66 (which doesn’t actually run through the actual Wyoming).
It seems China’s Jackson Hole homes have sold very well. A home sold recently reportedly cost almost $2 million because it’s only about an hour and a half away from the Chinese capital.
In the early 1990s, when the Chinese economy started to go through the ceiling, people wanted a new house to make them feel successful, so they copied architecture from other countries. Author Bianca Bosker calls this phenomenon “duplitecture.”
“China’s copycat and ‘duplitecture’ enthusiasts have chosen a very specific range of styles and countries to copy. Among the options, there is no Cleveland town. The cities and landmarks we see copied over and over again in China are those associated with countries and cultures that oftentimes command a lot of influence and often a lot of wealth,” Bosker told “Nightline.”
“These ‘duplitecture’ developments have become so embedded in parts of Chinese culture that I was surprised to hear…this idea that the way to live best was to eat Chinese food, drive an American car and live in a British home.”
Not all of these fake cities, however, are drawing large numbers of residents. And recently, the Chinese government announced that these knock-off cities are “at odds with Socialist core values” and says it wants to rename them.
“There is not an endless appetite and insatiable demand for more and more housing, apartments and so forth. In that regard I think these duplitecture developments are part of the wakeup call to the Chinese government that that idea of ‘build it and they will come’ that they have been able to rely on is no longer perhaps going to stay true,” said Bosker.