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China Secretly Clones Austrian Village 329

Hugh Pickens writes "A scenic mountain village in Austria called Hallstatt has been copied, down to the statues, by a Chinese developer. Residents of the original Hallstatt attended Saturday's opening in China for the high-end residential project, but were still miffed about how the company did it. 'They should have asked the owners of the hotel and the other buildings if we agree with the idea to rebuild Hallstatt in China, and they did not,' says hotel owner Monika Wenger. People in Hallstatt first learned a year ago of the plan when a Chinese guest at Wenger's hotel who was involved with the project inadvertently spilled the beans. Minmetals staff had been taking photos and gathering data while mingling with tourists, raising suspicions among villagers. The original village is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. The copycat is a $940 million housing estate that thrives on China's new rich. In a country famous for pirated products, the replica Hallstatt sets a new standard. 'The moment I stepped into here, I felt I was in Europe,' says 22-year-old Zhu Bin, a Huizhou resident. 'The security guards wear nice costumes. All the houses are built in European style.' This isn't the first time a Chinese firm has used a European place as inspiration. The Chinese city of Anting, some 30 kilometers from Shanghai, created a district designed to accommodate 20,000 residents called 'German Town Anting' and in 2005 Chengdu British Town was modeled on the English town of Dorchester."
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China Secretly Clones Austrian Village

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  • No problem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:07PM (#40227255)
    They're just getting ready the European versions of our China Town for when they inevitably dominate the world. We'll find settling into America Town and Europe Town very comfortable.
  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:15PM (#40227355) Journal

    Soulskill, why do you have to put the word "secret" in the title of TFA?

    As if the project was done by some secret agency of the Chinese Communist Party, or something like that

    It's a real estate development project, for crying out loud

    And it's not only China that they are doing that

    You go to India, and you will find towns that looks so much like what you get in England, with English bangalows and everything

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:21PM (#40227411)

    Er... I think this article proves he is correct. I'm Chinese and proud, but the morals we have when it comes to counterfeiting and intellectual property are just shameful. (Well that and environmental / animal cruelty, utterly shameful.) Nothing racist about it.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:26PM (#40227459)

    They could do worse than copying bits of European culture which are beautiful.

    After being inspired by Marx and Engels, this is Much Better.

  • by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:30PM (#40227509)
    Yes, except the English had a "presence" in India (not discussing the specifics of Colonialism, just as a reference to their presence there.) There was never any Austrian presence in China. Setting aside the fact the TFA headline is actually (IMO) more inflammatory than Soulskill's, the citizens of the town weren't aware of the activity, meaning it was apparently done without the knowledge of the citizens. In other words, secretly.
  • The Venitian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tester ( 591 ) <(olivier.crete) (at) (> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:33PM (#40227521) Homepage

    Well, how is that different from half the hotel/casinos on the strip in Las Vegas ? Appart from the fact that's it's more realistic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:40PM (#40227561)

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm Chinese too and I don't find it shameful. Certainly not racist.

    Environmental? Go do some research on history of industrialization in all the now "developed" nations, e.g., the Great Smog of 1952. Animal cruelty? You've obviously never watched some of the PETA videos showcasing the meat industry in America.

    China is going through a phase like every other nation once did. Things WILL get better.

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:46PM (#40227601)

    I love how some people are 'miffed' that a Chinese company has copied their city down to the finest details "without asking". What if they said no? Would the Chinese company have just shut down their project? Maybe as a courtesy, but why risk a 'no', when you fully intend to ignore it anyway.

    And 'piracy' (as posted above) is the wrong term. These buildings and the landscape are so old that even if they ever existed under some sort of copyright or patent protection, they would no longer be covered now.

    It's not even like the Chinese company isn't saying that it's a direct copy, so the original is still being credited as being the 'original'.

    What this does show is that there are a whole bunch of people around that think that 'copyright' or 'intellectual property' are some sort of super-rights that preclude anyone from doing anything that the creators don't expressly allow; whether or not any reasonable period of protection has elapsed. And sadly, many others think it's justified, while ignoring the consequences, where pretty much anything created would end up infringing on something somewhere at some time in the past.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:50PM (#40227627)

    no, "Chinese" is more like a civilization and an ethnicity, as the people describe themselves. it goes beyond china, and plenty of groups in china do not consider themselves "chinese" in that sense

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:16PM (#40227787) Homepage
    you are correct, But a simply heads up like "hey, we really like your town, we like it so much in fact we are going to replicate it in our country" would have been good enough. I personally dont care or have any issue with it, a builder can build what it wants, where it wants, but a heads up would be nice is all im saying
  • by Fned ( 43219 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:20PM (#40227827) Journal

    These buildings and the landscape are so old that even if they ever existed under some sort of copyright or patent protection, they would no longer be covered now.

    Like many people whose minds are stuck in the prior millenium, you're confusing "copies" with "access."

    This isn't about copies, it's about access. Prior to this project, you had to go to Halstatt to see things and build memoires and take pictures to remind you of those memories of the time you had in Halstatt.

    This is valuable, because access limitation is inherent. Moreso, if you're talking about access to a resource that is special because it's hundreds of years old, and it's not quite like any other resource.

    It's not that China is encroaching on peoples "intellectual property" that's pissing people off, ultimately; it's that they're making an end-run around the access restriction that makes Halstatt valuable. It makes the original city less valuable just by existing.

    If you were, say, a musical peformer, and China made a Tupac-style hologram of you, found someone to imitate your voice well enough to fool all but your most diehard fans, it likely wouldn't matter to you if they wrote all-original music for the hologram to perform; you'd be perfectly within your rights to be affronted, because they'd literally be diluting the value of your live performances. Would you still take it as flattery if some cost-cutting venue booked Chinese Holo-You instead of you?

    A lot of people will be going to Fakehalstatt instead of going to Halstatt. Some portion of those will go there because they will never be able to afford to go to Actualhalstatt, to be fair.

  • Re:priacy 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kittenman ( 971447 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:30PM (#40227895)

    They're hardly the first to try to reproduce tourist destinations and landmarks. Tokyo has an Eiffel tower [] and a Statue of Liberty [].

    Isn't there a lot of stuff in Las Vegas as well? (They're not the original Pyramids, I suspect...)

  • by phriedom ( 561200 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:51PM (#40228023)
    Pffft. This is a Chinese tourist destination, not a way of life. It is one step away from a theme park. Saying they are discarding their own culture by making/visiting a fake Austrian town is like saying that I'm discarding my Anglo heritage if I go to a Greek restaurant to drink Ouzo, watch belly dancers and break plates. Playing like they are in Europe for the day doesn't degrade their Chinese-ness.
  • Re:priacy 2.0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:04PM (#40228117) Journal

    the chinese will pirate anything.

    The original village is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. ... In a country famous for pirated products....

    This copyright protection is going too far... its absurd.... centruries-old... when does original architect's copyright run out, exactly!?

    inadvertently spilled the beans. Minmetals staff had been taking photos and gathering data while mingling with tourists, raising suspicions among villagers.

    Bullshit. Why would someone taking pictures or doing any kind of observations whatsoever raise suspicion in a heritage site that survives on tourism? I think letting the town know wasn't exactly "inadvertant," but likely overt.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:37PM (#40228335)

    The problem with your environmental examples is that those things are all in the past. We humans are supposed to be smart enough to learn not only from our own mistakes, but the mistakes of others too, and not repeat them stupidly. Notice how in many developing countries, everyone has a cellphone these days, but there's very little landline infrastructure. Why didn't they copy us by putting in landlines (with leased phones, no less), and suffer with those and later answering machines? Because that'd be stupid; they just adopted our new cellular technology and leapfrogged over the whole landline bit. That's what developing countries should be doing with environmentalism too; not that they should be going extremist and not doing any development at all, but the technology and techniques are available to avoid a lot of the worst pollution problems.

    However, I agree about flattery. I'm American and I think it's pretty funny, and I wish they'd do something more like that over here, instead of building everything with the same boring, ugly-ass architecture everything currently has here.

  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:41PM (#40228365) Journal reduced to a Xerox machine.

    funny how you put that... I chortled so vehemently at the irony that I had to wipe my eyes with a Kleenex ®, then realizing I did it too, coughed up on my shirt and had to take it to get cleaned in a Laundromat (tm)

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:50PM (#40228415)

    Like many people whose minds are stuck in the prior millenium, you're confusing "copies" with "access."

    I'll address this line directly as the sibling posters have covered the rest of your post.

    From the quoted line above, you're assuming that there has been some legal shift during the last 15 years in the scope of what defines intellectual property. With the exception of some far reaching lower court copyright rulings regarding things (eg. 'likenesses' in photographic elements and techniques) that should properly not be the domain of copyright at all, I haven't seen any changes.

    And your post emphasises my thesis that there seem to be more people out there desiring (or assuming) that anything that financially impacts someone else is somehow (or should be) protected (eg. your concept of 'access') and must be outlawed. Yet, taken to it's conclusion, you'd end up preventing competition in just about every field of endeavour. And this attitude creep is what I was referring to in my original post.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:52PM (#40228425)

    Don't be ashamed. There is NO SUCH THING as 'Intellectual Property'. It's an artificial construct.

    If I go to the town square, and pronounce "blue, blue, blue; blue, purple, blue; purple purple... green!" then I have just published a poem and this will as such be under copyright until 50 years after my death. You are not allowed to call out those colours in the same order, under penalty of copyright infringement. Crazy? Absolutely.

    If I want to keep something to myself, i.e. want to own it, I should not shout it out in the middle of a busy square, for everyone to hear. But I can. Because of 'Intellectual Property'. But what "Property" exists? None. It's just some form of agreement, that was of course agreed to by other parties than yourself, if for nothing else than that the basis was laid when your father's father was not even born yet or in his diapers.

    I think it's absolutely cool to copy an entire city/town 1:1 and have it sit on another continent. By all means, copy more, and maybe one day I'll come and visit - especially if the hotels offer their "local" cuisine: around the world in 8 days. I can see that work... and "copyright" be damned.


  • by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:43PM (#40228739)

    The reason those countries copied the cell infrastructure and not the landline one is that it's cheaper. For all the talk of "New Energy", fossil fuels are still by far the cheapest form of energy available, and will continue to be so for quite a while. If wind, solar, or nuclear energy were more economical (financially and politically), they would ignore the fossil fuel infrastructure and build those instead, same as mobile phones.

  • by Dodgy G33za ( 1669772 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @12:03AM (#40228865)

    It might make you feel better to know that the USA was built on the back of counterfeiting and intellectual property theft of designs from Europe.

  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @12:40AM (#40229061)

    And I'll point you at the Clean Air Act (1956). Because, you know, we realized things were wrong and did something about it.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:06AM (#40229451) Journal
    Aside from all that, "Chinatown" would have to be the most replicated town on the planet.
  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @04:10AM (#40229909) Homepage

    Why is that bad? It's what all the european rulers did in the 18th century with chinese towns, when Asia was a big thing to have, and everyone had to have something chinese. Europeans even copied china (the material), first as fayence, later one with a similar recipe as porcelain. Europeans copied the fireworks, the drinking of tea, and about every larger park had a chinese style pagode. The U.S. copied the chinese sauces in the 19th century, calling them "ketchup", and went on to reinvent chinese food a.k.a. chop suey. Did we hear the Chinese complain how Europeans and the U.S. were stealing chinese intellectual property then?

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?