What on earth were they thinking?

What on earth were they thinking?
A replica of Mount Rushmore - the iconic American symbol of presidential greatness carved into a granite mountain range in South Dakota - a miniature version of which now sits seemingly out-of-place in a park in the heart of southwestern Chinese city Chongqing.

In their swishy floral skirts and colourful tops, a group of middle-aged "dancing queens", teetering on 5cm-high heels, practise their choreographed moves at a breezy public square in Chongqing's Shaping Park.

What they are doing is nothing out of the ordinary, for dancing in public is a popular Chinese activity - except for the steady gaze on them of four former American presidents from on high.

The four gigantic heads are a replica of Mount Rushmore - the iconic American symbol of presidential greatness carved into a granite mountain range in South Dakota. The miniature version now sits, quite out of place, in the heart of this south-western Chinese city.

And so do life-size copies of well-known sculptures such as Michelangelo's David, Rodin's Thinker and the Venus de Milo, an ancient statue of Aphrodite. These are scattered throughout the "culture area" of the popular park in the city's Shapingba district.

They are just some of the many examples of China's notorious "copycat culture", which seems no longer content with churning out counterfeits of brand-name handbags and champagne but has turned to copying famous monuments and features of foreign cities.

Elsewhere in the municipality of roughly 30 million people, for instance, a privately run theme park features a miniature New York, Venice-like canals and a statue of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer rotating atop a ride.

Most of the visitors to Shaping park, however, were not only unimpressed but also not even aware that the replicas are of some of the world's finest art pieces.

"They are probably some famous historical people but there are no labels on them so we don't know who they are exactly," Mr Li Chengxun, 48, told The Sunday Times, adding that they were placed in the park "years ago".

When filled in on the details by this reporter, Mr Li, a retiree, only laughed and added: "I guess they are nice then, if we get to see famous art work without having to leave Chongqing."

But it is not just Chongqing - sprawling metropolis famous for its fiery hotpot and hilly terrain - that has a penchant for aping the West.

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