Research and other investigations by Matthew Niederhauser out of Beijing, China.

Counterfeit Paradises: Windows on the World

Visitors scramble up the steps of the United States Capital beneath Mount Rushmore at 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.

A child wearing bunny ears poses for her parents in Piazza San Marco at Windows on the World

Crowds fight for position in front of the Sphinx and Giza Pyramids at Windows on the WorldA child attaches herself to the United States White House at Windows on the WorldMount Fuji and the torii gate from the Itsukushima Shrine feature prominently in the Japanese section at Windows on the World

A visitor strolls by Mont Saint-Michel at Windows on the WorldTwo ladies pose in front of Angkor Wat at Windows on the World

A man crouches in front of the Versailles with Saint Peter's Basilica overlooking its garden at Windows on the WorldA child poses with Native American Indians at Windows on the WorldA child flashes the peace sign in the square in front of Saint Peter's Basilica at Windows on the World

Visitors fight for position in front of Niagra at Windows of the WorldA child crawls onto the London Bridge with Parliament in the background at Windows on the WorldA man poses in Gamehenge at Windows on the World

A child sits on the shoulder of his father in front of the Taj Mahal at Windows on the WorldVisitors paddle around the Statue of Liberty and Easter Island with Rio de Jenairo's Christo overlooking at Windows on the WorldVisitors clamber over Abu Simbel at Windows on the World

    5 Responses

    1. my first few days in china was in a hostel just up the road from here. this place was odd – i preferred the cultural folk village next door.

      April 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm

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