Imitation Is the Sincerest—and Most Historically Predictable– Form of Flattery

Developers have been surrounding Chinese largest cities with upscale suburbs modeled on the major cities of Europe and North America. Not all of these “themed” developments have been equally successful, but they have attracted international media attention, especially in those nations whose urban landmarks have been replicated.

Bianca Bosker has just contributed an article to The Atlantic that shows how this trend in China has extended to new construction on the campuses of Chinese universities. Bosker does emphasize that the Chinese are doing essentially what Americans did a century ago, when new buildings on our campuses were purposely designed to imitate the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the United Kingdom and of the major universities in the other nations of Western Europe.

The following images are not from Bosker’s article but the buildings are treated in her article. Notice the similarities in the rotundas that serve as the focal points of the campuses of the University of Virginia and Tsinghua University:


Rotunda U of Virginia


Rotunda Tsinghua U


Bosker’s article, “China Is Building Replicas of Ivy League Colleges” is available at:


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