It is not a secret that Chinese people have a whole industry dedicated to copying things. Fake designer clothes, fake branded bags and watches, fake electronics, fake dvds… Sometimes the copies are of bad quality and obviously fake, but sometimes the difference is hard to spot. Be it the good copies or the bad copies group, any fake product can be called 山寨 shanzhai in Chinese.

But not only consumer products can be copied. Buildings, too! And the internet tells me this is called duplitecture, from “duplicate” and “architecture”, I guess!

Last year, The Guardian published an article in which they dubbed Suzhou as “the city of clones”. Go and check their pictures! They look pretty good, but the truth is… the district where all those replicas are, Xiangcheng, is the lousiest district in Suzhou. It is probably the most poorly managed district and I think they are building these things to distract everybody’s attention from that fact (and also probably spending a good chunk of public money while they’re at it!).

I haven’t seen those good-looking replicas that the Guardian mentions, but once that we were driving through Xiangcheng I saw a triumphal arc with the inscription “European street”. I had to see that with my own eyes, so we stopped and walked around the area. And… well. What I saw was a bunch of dilapidated buildings trying to copy the European and Russian style. But the area was totally dead. Some of the buildings looked like they were hotels or restaurants, but they were closed.

This looks like Russian style, right?

The “Big Ben”.

This was a closed restaurant. If their cook was as bad as their translator then I completely understand that they had to close down.

All these buildings looked pretty grim, done with cheap materials and, of course, completely out of place.

But Suzhou is not the only place with shanzhai buildings. They are all over China! Let’s take a look at some famous ones:

The sphinx of Shijiazhuang

What’s Shijiazhuang known for? Not much, right? Let’s build an Egyptian sphinx and put ourselves in the map!

Picture from Sina.

(By the way, Egypt formally protested to UNESCO and the Chinese government said it would be demolished. No idea if it is still standing or not.)


The Eiffel Tower

Parisians think they are very cool, with that unique tower, no? Ha! Shanghai also has its own Eiffel tower! (And a full neighbourhood in French style, it seems).

“Parisians” showering on the street with the “Eiffel tower” in the background.


The Chinese Capitol

It seems Washington’s Capitol is one of the most copied buildings. It is fairly easy to spot a government building that looks similar. But let’s have a look at Lianshui’s Town Environmental Bureau:

From China News.


The Great Wall of Chengdu

Not only foreign buildings are copied! If you are in Chengdu and you feel like going to the Great Wall, there’s no need to make that annoying trip to the north! Just a few kilometres out of town you can visit this replica great wall, called the Jinlong Great Wall.

Picture from 中国文明网.

Picture from 中国文明网.


Did you know about these replicas before? What do you think about duplitecture, or copying in general?