In a bold move, developers in Guangdong are building a residential community which is an exact copy of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Austrian Alps. The village’s residents are not pleased. From the Independent:
The news has come as a shock to Hallstatt’s 800 residents. The beauty of their village may have earned it Unesco World Heritage site status, but nobody in the picturesque tourist magnet in the heart of Austria’s Salzkammergut had any idea the Chinese planned such a project, let alone that they would go ahead and build it.
“The people are not very amused that this has happened behind their backs,” is how Hallstatt’s mayor Alexander Scheutz put it. “But I found myself confronted with a fait accompli. I am stunned,” he admitted. Mr Scheutz said he had complained to Unesco about the Guangdong project.
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.”
See also a BBC report, and read about Hallstatt on Wikipedia.