June 21st, 2011
10:31 AM ET

China replicating Western towns

Thames Town is a typically idyllic British town. You can't miss the red phone booths or telephone boxes as the Brits call them. You can see the odd London taxi or black cab, and then, of course, there is the local Tudor-style pub with real ale - lovely for a summer holiday, right?

So how do you get there?

Well, don't go to England. Thames Town is not by the River Thames. It is by the Yangtze in China. Thames Town is one of a group of new townships outside Shanghai that are all built on the theme of another country.

Now, we stumbled on the story when we learned that while the Brits might be flattered, the Austrians got quite upset when they heard about plans to copy one of their famous towns. China is reportedly building a replica of the Austrian town of Hallstatt, complete with winding roads and a lake.

What I would love to find in China is a beautiful replica of a traditional Chinese village, but these have become almost impossible to find nowadays.

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Topics: China • Last Look

soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. KS67

    I wonder if Communism is practiced in these Western Towns, or if the chinese are still as barbaric as always. I wonder if they have families that are allowed to have a family size of their own choosing.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Thatsnotrue:[

      Wow, racists and brainwashed, do your research.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  2. Jack Campbell

    Having run businesses and worked for both USA and China companies, traveling in and out of China for 25-years; and, having lived in both Shenzhen and Shanghai for 2-plus years each at a stretch, I've seen all sides of this issue first-hand. The story here is mostly that the prevailing anti-China bias in mid-America is woefully shortsighted and misinformed on many core points. International travel widely available to China citizens — only needing to show some valid purpose for the trip (along with financial capability) to obtain a passport. As for sub-standard this or that, when China builds infrastructure they do so with the plan of it lasting forever. Their major roadways are world-standard quality. City services and utilities, also... There is still a major disparity in income between the coastal industrial areas and the interior agricultural areas, but that gap is closing. People on the street are generally happy, well fed, well cared for with health services, and are gainfully employed. The snapshots that the USA media provides tend to be of isolated moments, odd situations, unusual problems, not of the vast swath of day to day reality that is actually today's China.

    In short, there's a whale of a lot of blind bigotry and being aimed wrongly at China by many less-than-informed Americans.

    Is China an idyllic island of perfection in a global sea of chaos? Absolutely not. Is the heinous nest of nefarious cretins and bullies running a totalitarian gulag that so many here wish for us to believe in the USA? No way. Is the population there hopeful and optimistic and progressively improving their lives within the system in place there? Yes. Absolutely.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • KS67

      it's not the Chinese we don't like, it's the China we don't. It's communist. And in america, freedom means more than a person that smiles because they aren't allowed to disagree with their government. None of us know which Chinese are secretly unhappy under the smile. Because those people are taken to Prison in China for disagreeing with the Government.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
      • A Chinese

        Definition of Communisum:
        Medicare/Medicade(Healthy people pay for the unhealthy): US 1 China 0
        Public School district (people without kids pay for people with kids through property taxes): US 2 China 0
        Top 1% population pay for 40% taxes while 50% don't pay taxes at all: US 3 China 0
        Unemployement benefit (those with jobs pay for those without jobs): US 4 China 0
        Read some books, better yet, try to get a high school diploma. Chinese are not as sad you think.

        June 23, 2011 at 3:47 am |
  3. HZ

    Someone said that Americans had copied Portofino, Italy with Portofino Bay, Florida. No. The American version is just a facade at a theme park. That is like claiming that the New York hotel in Vegas is an exact copy of New York City.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  4. MiketheElectrician

    I agree I think there would be more tourists to go to China to see something besides the skyline of Shanghai. Think about the top attraction in China (the Great Wall), they need to replicate ancient china, and people will flock. You can get skyscrapers in NYC. If you want London, go to London. If you want Rome, go to Rome. etc.... Sure they may be able to replicate the buildings, but not the flavor of being in the actual place.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  5. EriduSumer

    It is a good thing they emulate us, as they incorporate more foreign culture they will have no choice but be changed by it. Openess is good, if they were closing their doors or being xenophobic that would be a problem. Let change course through their system for a few generations and they will come around. Hong Kong was the forunner to a new China.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  6. That'snottrue:(

    IS THIS EVEN NEWS???? THEY'RE DOING THIS TO SELL, IT'S THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS, SOME RANDOM COMPANY EVEN SAID THAT THEIR REAL ESTATE WAS ON AN EMPEROR'S GRAVE.

    &&&& THERE ARE TONS OF ANCIENT CITIES, REAL AND REPLICA IN CHINA, GO TO XI AN.
    &&&& DID THE AUTHOR GO THO CHINA OR A CHINA TOWN IN THE US? =.= MY GUESS IS THE LATTER CONSIDERING HIS LAST SENTENCE.
    BTW: DO YOUR RESEARCH, Please !!!

    June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  7. L. Tran

    This is a good start. Then they should replicate the three branches of government and multi-party political system, and free elections. But I forgot, they already HAD that.

    Just like Hollywood, the towns are just replicas, the people are still the same.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • Living in China

      @L. Tran- hahahah good one dude, thanks for bringing the 'haha'. Yeah, according to the Chinese its all about the peaceful rise, just disregard the aircraft carrier, the West Phillippine sea issue and invading Vietnam's turf. they are really really peaceful people.
      @A Chinese- top 3000 families on China own 60% of the wealth. 80-90% of all Chinese billionaires are family members of or party members themselves. 90% of major cities have polluted ground water and Beijing does not even measure the most harmful pollutants in the air, yet China has about 16 of the 20 most highly polluted cities in the world. 79% if China's rural workers are uninsured. One of China's Nobel Prize winner is in jail for writing a paper (Liu Xiaobo). 60% of Chinese cannot afford a hospital visit.
      I am not Chinese but i have lived here for ten years, I dont need books. The reality of China is beyond disturbing. With a corrupt government and lax to non-existent laws, the place is a mess. Corruption in the 3 Gorges dam project, high speed rail (Beijing to Shanghai and others), and houses which the Chinese government admits have a life of 30 years compared to 130 in England and over 70 in the USA. This is the reality of China. Cut and paste the individual facts for verification.
      @seng chen teh- agree
      @Jack Campbell- You are misinformed, you said "International travel widely available to China citizens — only needing to show some valid purpose for the trip. travel for Chinese is not as easy as you say. My company is a large multi-national and we battle to get them travel permits all the time. It depends on their history, how much cash they have etc.
      As for your comment on China building things to last, you seem less than credible. This is quote from the chinadaily (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2...nt_9687545.htm)
      ""Every year,.....but our buildings can only stand 25 to 30 years on average," Qiu Baoxing,
      What China are you referring to?

      July 11, 2011 at 1:16 am | Reply
  8. seng chen teh

    CNN, if your employees leave the comfort of 4,5 star hotels, they will have no problem finding traditional villages in China.
    Of course, your employees also need to sacrifice the comfort of luxurious cars for travel.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:56 am | Reply
  9. 中国人

    环境改变人,你们只是生活在一个物质比较发达的国家,如果当你们生在中国,以你们的人生观在中国就只能饿死而已,说大话谁不会,还对别人品头论足

    June 23, 2011 at 5:59 am | Reply
  10. Johnny

    At this point in time China seems to lack the ability to innovate. They lack creativity and that is one of the reasons why they copy and steal from everyone else. It is not because the people do not have the ability to be creative, it has most to do with the government. They have squelched their people from free thinking for so long it's going to take time for them to get back what alot of the rest of the world already has. China has adopted Capitalism (their interpretation of it) and the western way of doing business. Now, hopefully they will do the same with Democracy. If they do, the people will be much more free. They will not be living in a censored state and be able to think and act much more freely. I believe this will lead to more creativity and more innovation for the world. If China would become democratic, it would be highly unlikely for any Western country or any other democracy to end up at war with China. Generally speaking, democracies do not war with each other.

    June 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  11. RedChina

    Really a shame for China!

    While some many people are in poverty, so many people can't afford a house , educatiion and health care; These crazy and greedy buracrat and rich people are playing with copying western towns in China.

    What a shame!

    July 18, 2011 at 7:12 am | Reply
  12. carl

    I heard a bridge collaped 4 years ago in minnesota. Hymmm that,s interesting. I thought only the americans make quality stuff. Actually the 3 gorges dam that is supposed to be collapsing was able to hold back a huge flood caused by massive rainfall recently.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:58 am | Reply
  13. samuel welsh

    its great really but still their govt sucks and stells jobs .
    made in china still sucks.

    October 8, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
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