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China Secretly Clones Austrian Village 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-try-it-with-the-swiss dept.
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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  • priacy 2.0 (Score:5, Funny)

    by sdnoob (917382) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:03PM (#40227219)

    the chinese will pirate anything.

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      the chinese will pirate anything.

      They've been cloning electronics, toys, and even whole vehicles [worldcarfans.com] for years now. So why not clone whole cities and towns?

    • The real problem IMHO is that they're not making duplicates of the buildings Hundertwasser created :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      They're hardly the first to try to reproduce tourist destinations and landmarks. Tokyo has an Eiffel tower [wikipedia.org] and a Statue of Liberty [dumell.net].

      There's also name stealing. Missouri has a town called "Versailles." I hear the way it's pronounced in Missouri is "Ver-sales" rather than "Ver-sai." Probably to cut down on confusion. "Damnit! I meant to go to France! Ah well, guess I'll see the birthplace of Bud Walton, co-founder of Walmart."
    • by MasseKid (1294554) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:44PM (#40227589)
      At 1100 years old, I would surely hope this had fallen into public domain.
    • 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.

    • Americans have done it before in Las Vegas. Hilarious experience experience for people to visit if they are coming from the original places to find tourist copies of their home landmarks etc.

      Heck, in America there are re-enactment societies going the whole way and dressing up like folk from European middle ages etc.

      I am surprised some US lawyer isn't sueing the Chinese for prior art ;-)

      Really - is it news that some place has built replica sites for the tourists closer to home? Impressive if they've built a

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:06PM (#40227243) Journal

    Hallstatt (which loosely translates to "Salt City") is in the Austrian Alps near some (you guessed it) ancient salt mines. Very beautiful country with lots of lakes. Completely random facts: 1. The Celts lived there 4,000 years ago before they migrated to Ireland & Scotland; 2. One of the last US planes that was ever shot down in the European theater in WWII ended up almost perfectly preserved in a lake not too far from Hallstatt and was salvaged by divers a few years ago.

    • P.S. --> The larger city of "Salzburg" also loosely translates to Salt City... but from German rather than the ancient Celtic.

    • 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 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.
        • I don't really see why any of them should give a shit. I'm pretty sure their own town was copied from some other town, which was copied from some other town, etc, etc... all the way back to Babylon or Mesopotamia.... It's not like the people who live in that town architected it and built it and oversaw and orchestrated the centuries of history that have occurred there -- they just happen to live there because they moved there or because some ancient relative helped build a house or a church there. Seriously
      • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:48PM (#40227617) Homepage Journal
        They did not use a 'car' down a street with a developer logo on the side - in the open, talking to the community.
        Secret fits what was done. As for India, England did build in its own image in many areas...
      • by kanto (1851816) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:52PM (#40227651)

        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

        Well, it's still a mystery why the Chinese want to bomb this Austrian village so bad they need a replica for target practice.

    • BTW, are the dishes especially salty there? Or, whether the residents have a higher rate of HBP and stroke?
  • 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.
  • VillagePorn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lust (14189) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:09PM (#40227299) Homepage

    Possibly the most-submitted vista to /r/VillagePorn - at least now we can diversify the subreddit to include this pirated version.

  • Detriot (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ryanrule (1657199) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:12PM (#40227327)

    Do it with Detroit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeh and Disney made the magic castle from Neuschwanstein castle in Germany without asking Neuschwanstein.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuschwanstein_Castle

    It's an homage to Austria and they should be happy and market it as "come see the REAL Austrian village" and get rich Chinese to go visit.

  • by Osgeld (1900440)

    Since when did China start coping stuff !?! Tell the world this amazing news!

  • by DOXEBf (2651219) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:14PM (#40227349)
    Ah, so that's why Asian tourists take so many photos.
    • Re:Asian tourists (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tom (822) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:59AM (#40229861) Homepage Journal

      Aside from the funny, the reason they do (according to japanese friends of mine) is that they don't get many holiday days and almost never at the same time, so the often have to travel without their families and the photos are so that they can share their experience with the loved ones at home.

  • This is a pretty cool idea, and I'd love to see themed housing developments in other places. It has nothing to do with piracy though -- it's not as though anyone is going to consider living in Austria, but then decide to live in some Chinese town instead because it's cheaper. The author probably just threw that in as a bit of flamebait to get more comments.

  • by The Evil Atheist (2484676) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:25PM (#40227445) Homepage
    This is the poetry of history. During the Enlightenment, Europeans were trying to emulate Chinese architecture and city planning principles, as well as everything Chinese.
  • by crt (44106) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:26PM (#40227457)

    Looking at the first picture in the article, I thought they did an amazing job - even the geography was a match to what I remembered. Then I realized that was just a stock photo of the real Hallstatt.

    The other pictures tell the real story. It's about as authentic as their Loius Wuitton purses or iFone knockoffs. The scenery around the location is also a poor imitation of the original.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      It doesn't look right to me either. The differences were actually pretty glaring. Of course, even the picture of the actual town looked off to me. When I went it was late December, so everything was covered in snow.
  • 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.

  • NOT secret (Score:5, Informative)

    by rgbrenner (317308) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:28PM (#40227483)

    While I'm sure saying it was secret makes the story more exciting.. let's try to stick with things that are true. Here's an article from a year ago [spiegel.de]. The Chinese real-estate developer arranged a partnership between the two cities. Halstatt's Mayor knew of the development. That's the opposite of a secret.

    And if you think this is for some sinister purpose:

    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." Modelled after a typical mid-size German city by architecture firm Albert Speer & Partner, it includes Bauhaus style architecture and a fountain with statues of Goethe and Schiller.

    In 2005 Chengdu British Town was modelled on the English town of Dorchester. One year later Thames Town was finished near Shanghai, complete with a 66-meter tall church that bears a striking resemblance to a cathedral in Bristol. Also near Shanghai are mini versions of Barcelona, Venice and the Scandinavian-inspired Nordic Town. The architectural plagiarisms are popular destinations among middle-class Chinese, even serving as backdrops for wedding photos.

    That's right: it's for tourism.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Other cities, regions have been doing deals.
      The fact that the Mayor "knew" of the development as a "project" at some point does not take away from the secret spy and build facts.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Calling this piracy is just as dumb as calling the New York New York casino in Las Vegas piracy. And here [about.com] is the home the White House is styled after.
    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Honestly, they aren't popular at all. They're huge financial failures [spiegel.de]. They do get wedding photographers, but that's it, and certainly not what they were designed for. And everywhere gets wedding photographers, wedding photographs are one of the most important parts of Chinese weddings.

      One of the things that gets lost in talk of the Chinese boom is that the whole thing is a bubble market, where development is controlled by fucking Commies and people who happen to have good family connections, but can't e

  • The Venitian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tester (591) <olivier.crete@NOSPam.ocrete.ca> 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 waynemcdougall (631415) <slashdot@codeworks.gen.nz> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:34PM (#40227527) Homepage

    Off-site backups are _always_ worth the hassle

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fned (43219)

      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 resou

      • by russotto (537200)

        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.

        What is "access" but some form of intellectu

      • The Chinese village doesn't give you access to Halstatt. For them to be miffed about access, they would have to be creating some kind of portal that let's you go to an alternate universe Halstatt.

        Also, your example is one of likeness rights, which would generally fall under the blanket of 'intellectual property.'
      • 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.

  • On the other hand... (Score:4, Informative)

    by lulalala (1359891) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:51PM (#40227643)

    In Germany there is this town which has the long tradition of turning into Chinese during the week of carnival:
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/bavaria-s-chinese-carnival-long-live-the-emperor-of-dietfurt-a-677961.html [spiegel.de]

  • 'The moment I stepped into here, I felt I was in Europe,' says 22-year-old Zhu Bin, a Huizhou resident.

    I suppose now, like a typical Western European, he can raise a placard that says "Free Tibet" and not get arrested by the police or roughed-up by plainclothes thugs? Maybe it's part of China's grand pland to recreate Disney World, capitalism without the chaos of Western-style democracy or rights (even if those selfsame rights are being diminished by the minute).

  • At first I thought the town had their DNA swiped covertly, and then were found to be cloned in China.

    Now that'd be creepy
  • Identity issues. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:35PM (#40227933)

    Sometimes it really is sad watching one of the oldest countries in the world, once rich and deep with its own unique culture...be reduced to a Xerox machine.

    • 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.
    • Sometimes it really is sad watching one of the oldest countries in the world, once rich and deep with its own unique culture...be reduced to a Xerox machine.

      Like Virginia [youtube.com]?

    • by catmistake (814204) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:41PM (#40228365) Journal

      ...be 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 Kittenman (971447) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @09:44PM (#40227993)
    I toured through Washington State in December/January (after battling through US border security ...don't get me started) and I swear there's a whole Austrian township in there.

    We also saw some lumbering gorilla-type figures, and I took some blurry photos.
  • This sounds a lot like Huis Ten Bosch [huistenbosch.co.jp] in Japan near Nagasaki. A surprisingly complete (and well maintained) replica of a Dutch town. I don't know how it stays in business as it was pretty much a ghost town when I was there, but all of the gardens and buildings are well maintained, even the hotels that are closed due to lack of business have well maintained exteriors.

    Though I guess the difference is that the Japanese built it in cooperation with the Dutch government.

  • Did they also recreated the salt mines?

  • by zoloto (586738) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @10:23PM (#40228241)
    So they copied a town, and people actually expect they have to be asked for permission to do such a thing? Ridiculous. Anyone can copy a town's layout, a building's architecture etc etc. Why are people getting their knickers in a twist over such shenanigans?
  • Like Stonehenge, the pyramids, the Mori, or some Aztec stuff. A freaking hotel? Might as well make the world's largest toilet paper roll.

  • Ironically China was a mature society around 900 BC, being one of the world's earliest cultures. As a tourist, and if I had the means, I would rather be visiting Beijing and its surroundings than a medieval town that is probably similar to the rest of Europe.

    Sounds like China is running out of ideas on how to spend their money.

     

  • Sorry... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @12:14AM (#40228923)

    But design patents and copyright do not last hundreds of years.

    The Chinese developer has every right to do this. For fucks' sake, Disney's castle rips off castles from all over Europe and nobody says a peep.

    The Austrians should be happy it's just a developer copying it and not the Chinese military, who have copied a section of a Kashmir (Aksai Chin) for military training purposes, specifically, tank training.

    http://pruned.blogspot.com/2006/07/huangyangtan-or-tactical-geoannexation.html [blogspot.com]

    --
    BMO

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