Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - China copies itself



China copies itself

China copies itself

China is famous for its cheap copies of things: from pirated software and movies, to designer clothes and cigarettes, there are few well-known western brands that haven’t been pirated.

And buildings are no exception: there are copies of the US Capitol building, the Sydney Opera House, Austrian mountain hamlets, British country villages, and the Palace of Versailles.

But China’s continuing economic growth has thrown up a strange new twist to the country’s mania for copying: a building currently being constructed in Beijing is being copied by one in Chongqing, and the two are in a race to see which is completed first.

Famed British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid unveiled her designs for Beijing’s Wangjing Soho complex in 2011, which involves three pebble-like buildings and will house an office and retail complex.

The prestigious project is due to be completed next year.

Meanwhile, a remarkably similar project called Meiquan 22nd Century is being built in the southwestern city of Chongqing, which is widely believed to be a fairly precise copy of Hadid’s building.

“It is possible that the Chongqing pirates got hold of some digital files or renderings of the project,” Satoshi Ohashi, project director at Zaha Hadid Architects, told Der Spiegel online.

“[From these] you could work out a similar building if you are technically very capable, but this would only be a rough simulation of the architecture.”

Hadid – who recently designed the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics – has 11 projects on the go in China.

Fifteen thousand fans flocked to see her give a talk at the unveiling of the designs for the SoHo complex.

Zhang Xin, the property developer behind the Soho project has issued an open appeal for help in battling the massive counterfeiting, saying “Everyone says that China is a great copycat country, and that it can copy anything.”

Chongqing Meiquan, the developer behind Meiquan 22nd Century, has reportedly rejected accusations of copying and said on its blog: “Never meant to copy, only want to surpass.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Winchester at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,