China Plans to Duplicate Entire Austrian Town

Hallstatt june19.jpg
Chinese piracy of foreign goods is a big problem and a major focus of nearly every trade negotiation, of which there are many, between China and the U.S., China and Japan, and China and the European Union. China's domestic market reproduces -- and sometimes exports -- everything from DVDs to purses to pharmaceuticals, creating a bit of wealth for China at the expense of the more copyright-conscious economies that produced the original goods.

That culture of copyright piracy is now set to produce a forgery of a vastly bigger scale. Austrian media are reporting that Chinese architects plan to reproduce an entire Austrian town -- the idyllic Hallstatt, pictured above -- in Guangdong province. Hallstatt's understandably incensed Mayor Alexander Scheutz told Der Spiegel that he would be complaining to the United Nations, though it's not clear what they could do.

The leader of the lakeside town in the picturesque Salzkammergut region heard about the plans coincidentally in May through an Austrian economic delegation in Hong Kong where the Chinese real estate company responsible inquired about arranging a partnership between the two cities.

But a few days ago Scheutz discovered what he called an "indiscretion" -- the plans for the Chinese version of Hallstatt were apparently far more advanced than he'd been led to believe. "I'm stunned, but not outraged," the mayor said. He has since alerted both UNESCO and national authorities.

"Spying" by Chinese architects would not have been conspicuous in Hallstatt, where there are up to 800,000 visitors each year who "photograph everything and everyone," Scheutz told Austrian news agency APA.

Representatives from the Alpine village's historic church are also concerned. Copying a house of God for use as a tourist attraction is problematic, Catholic priest Richard Czurylo told daily Die Presse, adding that at the very least, the new church must be declared a place of prayer.

Read the full story at Der Spiegel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Presented by

Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In