If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then strolling through the many copycat cities that have sprung up across China over the last 30 years one would be forgiven for thinking China must worship all things Western-world related. Some experts say that after years of Communist-lifestyle architectural drabness that saw classic Chinese buildings razed for near-identical cubes with a window, China went a little hog wild in the late 1990s as housing regulations were loosened. Always a country willing to embrace Western influences, China extended that to include what author Bianca Bosker calls ‘duplitecture’ – mimicking the Western construction style of homes and businesses as an outward boastful display of success. Estimates have put the number of these copycat cities in the thousands now, even as some of them sit almost empty as the wave of demand for them bottomed out before construction could be completed. Despite this, Vanke, China’s largest private real estate developer, says nearly two-thirds of their properties are in the Western style.
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