I just heard a report on a Beijing radio station about a nearby town being turned into an English-only enclave. Not believing my ears, I looked it up online and found that, sure enough, there is such a plan afoot. This report from People's Daily Online (originally published In Shanghai Daily) (December 16, 2011) is succinct enough that I will quote the whole article:
Beijing's rural village recast as English town
Beijing's suburban Miyun County is going to build a large European-style town within five years and no one will be allowed to speak Chinese there, said the county mayor.
Wang Haichen said a local village would be turned into a 67-hectare English castle with 16 courtyards of unique houses. It will offer visitors souvenir passports and ban Chinese speaking to create the illusion of being abroad, Beijing News reported today.
So far 4.5 million yuan (US$708,300) has been invested to transform 16 peasant courtyards in Caijiawa Village into English-style dwellings. Wang told the newspaper that each of the 16 peasant households had received 30,000 yuan of government subsidy.
The county mayor insisted that one courtyard had been turned into a boutique hotel. "We built a laundry center to supply clean bed linens to the 16 households free of charge," Wang said. "We are considering to offer them bicycles and electric bikes next year."
At a local people's congress meeting held on Wednesday, Wang promised to transform Miyun into an international tourism and leisure attraction.
China is known for its fake Apple stores, fake Starbucks, and fake practically everything else. In this instance, it would seem that Mayor Wang is determined to make his English castle town a consummate fake. To tell the truth (!), the vexed dichotomy between what is real and what is false has been a major theme in Chinese literature and philosophy down through the centuries. China's most famous novel, Hónglóu mèng 红楼梦 (A Dream of Red Mansions) is centered on the dyad of zhēn and jiǎ 真假 ("true and false"), while my favorite early Chinese thinker, Zhuāng zi 庄子, is preoccupied with shìfēi 是非 (that which can be affirmed and that which cannot be affirmed).
I have a suspicion that, if this English-only village is ever completed, visitors who enter it will succumb to anomic angst.