China is building a replica of an idyllic Austrian alpine village in a rundown industrial estate in the Guandong province.
The village will be a £5.7billion carbon copy of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site, complete with artificial lake.
Posing as tourists, the Chinese have been photographing every building there for three years.
The plan was discovered when a Chinese guest at one of the village hotels left blueprints behind.
Publicy, Hallstatters say they are proud that their village has caught the eye of the Chinese. But the apparent secrecy surrounding the project has revived suspicions about outsiders.
Hallstatt Mayor Alexander Scheutz describes the plan as “a compliment to our village.”
Although the Chinese developers say construction started in April, Scheutz say the village knew nothing about the plan to replicate Hallstatt until early this month.
They say a Chinese guest involved in the project and staying at Wenger’s hotel inadvertently let slip, showing Wenger drawings and plans she should have kept to herself of the village.
Others are more outspoken, with villagers said to be ‘”outraged - not about the fact but the approach”.
The Chinese developers are advertising the project as low-density, high-end residential development “surrounded by mountains with mountain and lake views,” to be built “in a European architectural style, with a commercial street built with the characteristics of an Austrian-style town.”
China already has created Chengdu British Town, near Shanghai modelled on Dorchester.