Counterfeit Paradises: Windows on the World
International vacations are a must for the burgeoning number of nouveau riche across China. A well-used passport is a sure sign of fulfilling a “modern” and “cultured” lifestyle and completes the trifecta of high social status along with ownership of multiple homes and foreign luxury cars. Even in the face of the global economic downturn, China continues to boast the fastest growing outbound tourism market in the world. In 2009, the average expenses paid by Chinese for international travel went up 21% and will continue to grow as more and more flex their purchasing muscle. In Shenzhen, however, a favorite travel destination remains the Windows on the World. A short subway ride from the city center, the park boasts over a hundred small-scale replicas of famous monuments and buildings from all over the world. Here Chinese can fantasize about visiting foreign countries and practice taking tourist photographs. This make-believe space is one of consumer indoctrination and a selling point for a notion of civility that will most likely prove as empty as other social movements in China’s past.