Why this Chinese city just copied Hannover
A street in the style of Hanover is to become a tourist attraction in Changde, China. 500 million euros took the city in the hand. But the German operators of a restaurant with bratwurst and home-brewed beer gave up quite quickly.
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ZMany famous buildings from Europe already exist in copy in China – for example the Eiffel Tower or the Tower Bridge. The Chinese telecom giant Huawei has built on its new corporate campus replicas from twelve European cities, including the Heidelberg Castle. In Changde, on the other hand, the choice fell on Hanover, which, as a tourist magnet, is not actually one of the top ten European metropolises such as Paris or London.
Three years ago, the Chuanzi River opened a 450-meter-long shopping boulevard with brick houses in North German style, a Leibniz monument, a coffee factory and a German brewery. The street is a symbol of the long-standing friendship between the two cities – as a gift, emphasizes the manager of the Changde Centrum GmbH, Bailan Xia. “We love Hannover,” she says.
Changde has invested around 500 million euros in the project, about 300 million euros of which are construction costs. An observation tower overlooking the water is inspired by Hanover's Dutch Expo pavilion.
In Changde one hoped for German businessmen
By Chinese standards, the city is relatively small, about 700,000 people live in the city, about six million in the region. With the Hannoversche Straße, the place wants to increase its attractiveness for domestic and foreign tourists as well as for companies from Europe. An hour's flight away is the World Heritage Zhangjiajie, a good two hours Shanghai.
Originally, as many German business people as possible should settle in Far Eastern Klein-Hannover. Also because of vacancies meanwhile the concept was changed.
For example, according to Xia, a Chinese who studied in London will open a pizzeria soon. The German operators of the restaurant with bratwurst and self-brewed beer gave up quite quickly, but a contract with a new operator is about to be signed, says the representative of Changde in Germany. Many new projects took time, she admits. The district attracts walkers and tour groups and is a popular backdrop for wedding photos.
For the Hannoversche Kaffeemanufaktur, the roasting house and the connected Café in Changde were the gateway to the Chinese market. The cafe is running, but the main business is the sale of roasted coffee to hotels, restaurants and corporate clients, says Fabian Berndt, who lives with his partner in the North German-looking street. “Over the past three years, we have learned a lot about the Chinese way of life and have been given intensive insights into this fascinating culture,” he enthuses.
The family business has meanwhile opened coffee shops in other cities and wants to concentrate on Shenzhen and Shanghai. The Chinese side not only helps financially, but also in dealing with business and cultural differences, says Berndt.
Visitors from China prefer Heidelberg to Hannover
The state capital Hannover is not committed to the commercial success of Hannoversche Straße in central China. The city of Changde alone is responsible for the marketing, emphasizes spokeswoman Anja Menge.
The city cooperation originated in 2005, when engineers from Hanover made the water supply in Changde sustainable as part of a “sponge city” project. There is a lively exchange of business delegations, but also, for example, of students who participate in dragon boat races.
The more than 8000 kilometers as the crow flies and over 20 flying hours away from Lower Saxony located shopping mile makes Hannover better known. Does this also affect tourists?
The number of Chinese visitors in Hanover has not skyrocketed since the road opened. It has been around 20,000 overnight stays per year since 2015. In 2018, however, a record was achieved with 20,999, it was about eight percent more nights than in the previous year.
By contrast, the Heidelberg Castle, which attracts more than one million people every year, has seen a large increase in visitors from Japan, China and India for years, whereas tourists from the US used to dominate.
“The fact that the castle has now inspired the master builders of a high-tech campus in China is therefore nothing out of the ordinary,” says Frank Thomas Lang, spokesman for the State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg. It is nice that Heidelberg Castle now also stimulates the imagination of people in Shenzhen.
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