Friday, March 02, 2007

A Chinatown with no Chinese!

I found this article particularly interesting. Imagine this: A Chinatown in a foreign country, but without any Chinese! The local government of Incheon, South Korea, recently turned an area of the city into a Chinatown, without any Chinese!

The reason that they had decided to build up a Chinatown is to attract Chinese tourists. Since they did this a few years ago, several other Korean cities have expressed plans to do the same. With the rise in the number of Chinese traveling out of China, people are doing all kinds of silly things to attract the tourists.

The Incheon Chinatown has one single claim to fame. Chinatowns are normally built by the local Chinese immigrants. They would raise the necessary funds to pay for the construction of the arches and other things. This Chinatown was built by local governments of China, which donated the various arches and statues to be placed in the area.

I've always been fascinated by the fact that there are so many Chinatowns around the world. Chinatowns sprouted up wherever Chinese immigrants landed to work. Another thing that interested me was that these Chinatowns were almost always predominantly Cantonese. I guess that most of the immigrants must have flocked from the port at Canton.

It also tickles me to see the kind of things that some people are willing to go through to attract Chinese money. Granted, China has become a large economic force in the region. However, I personally feel that a lot of the appeal has been partly inflated by the government. There may be a lot of Chinese tourists. However, most of them are fairly budget conscious. So, they will not spend as much as most local governments hope for.

Moreover, I don't really understand why a Chinese tourist would travel to see a foreign Chinatown. I'm sure that they're more interested in seeing really foreign things. That's probably why we have so many Chinese tourists in Cambridge all year round. Malaysia is also a slave to this trade. The local government tries to drum up it's traditional Chinese links to attract Chinese yuan. Things can get silly at times, like this article has shown.

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