- A full-size replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza is seen in Shijiazhuang, north China’s Hebei province on May 13, 2014.
- Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Chinese tourists may have been thrilled about getting their very own Sphinx. Egypt, however, was less than pleased.
The country said it planned to file a complaint to Unesco over an imitation Sphinx built in China earlier this year because it “harms the cultural heritage of Egypt,” Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement. A Paris-based UNESCO spokeswoman said the organization had yet to receive a formal complaint.
The life-sized Chinese version of the Sphinx is part of a new theme park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, just 300 kilometers southwest of Beijing. A manager at the theme park told the state-run China Daily that the Sphinx was constructed only as a movie prop and would be destroyed once the filming is complete, though he gave no timeframe.
China Real Time couldn’t reach the park for comment. Calls to the Shijiazhuang government rang unanswered on Monday.
The Chinese Sphinx has become a popular tourist attraction since it was finished in April. An anonymous worker from the construction company told China Daily that Sphinx cost about 8 million yuan ($1.3 million) to construct.
This isn’t the first time that Egypt and China have gotten into spats over matters of tourism. Last year, a Chinese teen ignited global anger after he was accused of carving his name on the wall of Egypt’s 3,000-year-old Luxor Temple.
Of course, the Sphinx isn’t the first look-alike to pop up in China, where one can find various versions of the White House, France’s Arch of Triumph, England’s London Tower Bridge, Australia’s Sydney Opera House or even the famous Austrian town of Hallstadt. There’s even a whole theme park devoted to miniature versions of the world’s most famous tourist sites.
Messages posted to the verified Weibo account of state broadcaster CCTV shamed Chinese cities for duplicating so many Western or ancient civilizations’ landmarks, noting that most have earned bad reputations or simply become a joke.
“Since [the duplicated Sphinx] is just for a movie, [the local company] should withdraw it quickly and not try to turn it into a permanent construction, which would cause trouble between these two ancient civilizations,” it said.
Others blasted the fact that China is building replicas of famous buildings from around the world while it is at the same time destroying much of its own architectural heritage.
“Tearing down our own historic buildings and duplicating others’ stuff. Maybe they’ll become another wonder a thousand years later,” wrote one.
Meanwhile, others wondered if the country couldn’t turn its efforts to imitating more than just historical sites.
“It would be really awesome if they could duplicate others’ sky,” wrote another, referring to the bad air pollution in China.
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(via WSJ Blogs)