europe and us in china

Europe in China



tower strange hometown
iconic spacious wait a minute (2)
exactly fountain picturesque
bridge inhabitant apparently
victim rule (2) supply and demand
roil bubble (2) speculative
grip worldwide real estate
virtual virtually penthouse
vacant laundry hang/hung/hung (2)
pollute isolated phenomenon
mock copycat all over (2)
slightly knock off sprout up (2)
logo designer by the hundreds
brand homesick undervalued
unique waterway in their own way
clone route (2) status symbol
glory crown (2) crowning glory
option count (3) generation
decide reaction revolutionary
choice up to (2) contemporary
-ish get away Jackson Hole
dozen route 66 duplication
fake lifestyle mutant (2)
refined view (2) square (2)
booth suburbs theme park
Tudor original security guard
busy wedding supposed to be
secret announce at odds with
realtor look like







One of the strangest real estate stories you may ever see: entire cities designed to look like Paris, London, Venice, even Jackson Hole Wyoming.

So why doesn’t anybody want to live there?

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Ah Paris — one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The Eiffel Tower! Look at that place!

But wait a minute . . . Paris?

Well not exactly: welcome to Tianducheng, China, an entirely city built to look exactly like Paris, France, complete with iconic architecture, picturesque fountains, spacious squares.

And thousands of apartments to live in.

Meet one of the inhabitants. Rachel moved here six years ago.

Journalist: “So how do you think this being Paris, here?”
Rachel Ni, Inhabitant of Tianducheng, China: “How do you think?”
Journalist: “Is it strange to you?”
Rachel Ni: “Yes, I think a little strange.”
Journalist: “You live here?”

She says she’s not exactly feeling the true spirit or atmosphere of Paris. And apparently, almost no one else is either.

Bianca Bosker, Author, “Original Copies”: “These developers, while they may have copied so much else about the West in these developments, they have forgotten the most important thing of all, which is the rule of supply and demand.”

A victim of the speculative real estate bubble currently gripping China, and roiling stock markets worldwide.

Paris, now virtually a ghost town, streets empty, stores vacant.

For so few people, there seem to be quite a lot of laundry, hanging almost everywhere.

Journalist: “There’s laundry on the tree. Fourth floor. View of the penthouse.
Rachel Ni: Inhabitant of Tianducheng, China: “You want to see?”
Journalist: “Yeah, yeah. I’ll take the very top.”

In Paris, it would be a dream to have this view.
Journalist: “Wow!”
Rachel Ni: “The view is good.”
Journalist: “Yeah.”

In fact the view is getting better and better, because this is no isolated phenomenon: all over China, copycat European cities, from mock London to full Venice, sprouting up by the hundreds.

Bianca Bosker, Author, “Original Copies”: These are not just cheap knock offs.”

Bianca Bosker, an author and journalist, says in China these communities function like designer logos, even if undervalued right now.

Bianca Bosker, Author, “Original Copies”: “These are brands, these landmarks, icons; these are status symbols in their own way.”

In the classical Chinese city of Suchow, known for its unique architecture and waterways, this Venice of China has felt the need to add dozens of clone bridges.

Their crowning glory: a mutant clone of London’s Tower Bridge.

So why do they do this?

One reason says Bosker is reaction against a long history of communism.

Bianca Bosker, Journalist: “Even a generation ago, for example it wasn’t up to individuals and families to really decide how they were living, how and where and what way, and to be able to make that choice is in its own way a very important revolutionary option for contemporary Chinese families.”

If you want to get away from communism, just drive out of Beijing, past China’s Great Wall, into the hills, it’s Wyoming-ish.

That’s right, Jackson Hole . . . cowboys . . . and of course Route 66. It doesn’t really go through Wyoming, but they are trying.

So if you really want to Americanize this place, put Route 66 on the street. They did get the snow right, but even that’s a duplication.

If you thought this was real snow, well here’s the secret: they make it fake. Unlike other duplitecture homes, these homes sell well: this home, the realtor showed us, cost almost two million dollars. Perhaps because it’s only an-hour-and-a-half away from the often polluted Chinese capital.

Journalist: “Why is it that a lot of people want to live in an American-type town?
Local Resident: “The lifestyle, they want to have.”
Journalist: “Oh, you want the lifestyle. Very, very American.”

If you want something slightly more refined, head to the suburbs of Shanghai. This is the Themes Town, as in the River Themes of London.

Local Resident of Themes Town: “I didn’t know this place before.”
Journalist: “Do you like it?”
Local Resident of Themes Town: “Yeah.”

It’s more like a British theme park: Harry Potter statue, check . . . Winston Churchill, of course.

Then there’s the Tudor architecture. A lot of neighborhoods like this remind me of London when I lived there: they’ve got the same doors, the same walls, the iconic red phone booths.

And security guards dressed in British uniforms.

Journalist: “What’s it like to wear a British uniform like this?”
Security Guard: “All the houses are like Themes Town.”

Like Paris, it was supposed to be a busy town, filled with residents — but they never came. It’s mostly now for wedding pictures. Everywhere.

Let’s count the number of wedding photographs. I’m counting them now: one … two down there … three … four … five … six. I counted six.

And now these ghost towns are in danger in a whole new way: the Chinese government recently announced that these knock-off cities are at odds with core socialist values, and says wants to give them more traditional Chinese names.

But for now, if you come to China, if you get homesick for your hometown, you can probably find it here.

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1. The news report took place in Paris, France; Jackson Hole, Wyoming US; and London, UK. True or false?

2. Does the Chinese city of Tianducheng have a mixture of Parisian and Chinese architectural styles?

3. The local Chinese residents absolutely love their European environment. Is this correct or incorrect?

4. Are lots of Chinese flooding into Tianducheng because of its European architecture and atmosphere?

5. Is Tianducheng unique in China?

6. Why have developers built replicas of European-style cities?

7. Developers have only duplicated cities from Europe. Is this right or wrong? Why is “Jackson Hole” popular?

8. What is “Themes Town”? Describe Themes Town. Is it a very popular place to live?


A. Our city has a European-style design and architecture. Yes or no?

B. Have things been changing over the decades?

C. Should old, traditional-style buildings and architecture be preserved and revived?

D. What may happen in the future?

E. There should be more theme parks and city quarters that feature ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, classical towns and architecture. What do you think?


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