Copy towns

These almost exact architectural plagiarisms of European cities, landmarks and villages are popular destinations among middle-class Chinese, even serving as backdrops for weddings and photos. But they are largely empty. Built for a small elite, they have thus far failed to attract a sufficient number of the hoped-for residents that would justify their enormous expense. And not everyone in Europe is happy about being xeroxed, the Austrian village of Hallstatt being a prime example. Still, this form of high-handed flattery signifies a major turn in China: where once examples of European influence were seen as embarrassing evidence of Chinese submission to foreign powers, they have now become symbols of Chinese economic dominance.