Fake Chinese Sphinx attracts tourists, but Egypt is not happy

  • Living
  • Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014

Residents pose for a photo before a full-size replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza in Donggou village in Shijiazhuang, north China’s Hebei province. — AFP

The land renowned for fake products might just have taken its mimicry a step too far.

The Egyptian government is protesting China's replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza, saying the structure in Heibei province undermines the country’s cultural heritage.

The company that built the replica as part of a movie set, responded that it would tear down the statue after shooting for the movie was completed.

The Sphinx copy, about 80m long and 30m tall, looks much like the original, 4,500-year-old limestone Sphinx south-west of Cairo. The copy, in a theme park near the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, has attracted many visitors since it was constructed in April.

However, Egypt is not flattered by the imitation.

Mohammed Ibrahim, Egypt’s minister of antiquities, said the country filed objections to the Chinese version with Unesco. Ibrahim said the phony Sphinx violated Unesco’s 1972 Convention and is “a violation of Egypt’s rights to its cultural heritage and a bad imitation that disfigures the original”, according to a report in Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly last week.

In response to the criticism, a manager of the theme park, who identified himself only by his surname, Shen, said the fake Sphinx is only a movie prop and it will be demolished after filming is completed.

“We did not use it for commercial purposes and did not charge fees from visitors, nor do we intend to make it a tourist attraction,” Shen said. The company rues any misunderstanding, he added.

The theme park plans to build more cultural heritage sites in China, such as temples and movie sets. The total cost of the project will be 5bil yuan (RM2.6bil).

Among the visitors to the tourist attraction, seven said the faux Sphinx was a waste of money if the park plans to demolish it.

An anonymous worker from the construction company said the cost of the cloned Sphinx was about 8mil yuan (RM4.1mil).

Some visitors suggested the company only needs to change the Hebei statue by altering the head or adding a tail, to avoid complaints.

Feng Xiaoqing, a law professor of intellectual property rights at China University of Political Science and Law, said it has not been confirmed that the cloned Sphinx resulted in direct economic loss to the original one.

He said people will not confuse the Chinese version with the Egyptian one, so claims that the Chinese Sphinx violates intellectual property rights are unfounded. – China Daily/Asia News Network

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