A complete and life-sized replica of Beijing’s Old Summer Palace, which was looted by both British and French troops in the 1860s, has now been opened to tourists.
The replica is housed on the grounds of a giant film studio, hundreds of miles away from the Chinese capital. So what’s the controversy about? The managers of the original have been threatening legal action, saying the replica “infringes intellectual property rights.” Despite the threats, the replica site has now opened to the public with great reviews.
The original site, which features a complex of beautiful gardens, palaces and lakes, was used by Qing dynasty emperors in the 19th century. While it’s mostly in ruins, it’s still one of the most popular tourist sites for visitors arriving on flights to Beijing.
The Summer Palace then became a source of national humiliation after it was looted and ransacked by British and French troops in 1860 in response after China captured, tortured and killed members of a delegation from the two countries. The USA, Russia and Britain looted it again in 1900.
The replica covers an impressive 400 hectare in a film studio located in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The attraction, costing over £3 billion, will eventually feature a replica of 95% of the Old Summer Palace but only the first phase of it has been completed.