Fraudsters' feat of clay starts crumbling

The authorities in Xian, capital of north-west China's Shaanxi province, this week raided a resort and destroyed more than 40 fake terracotta warriors. The raid came after a tourist's complaint posted online on Jan 5 went viral.
The authorities in Xian, capital of north-west China's Shaanxi province, this week raided a resort and destroyed more than 40 fake terracotta warriors. The raid came after a tourist's complaint posted online on Jan 5 went viral.PHOTO: SINA WEIBO

Tourists to Xian duped into visiting resort filled with fake terracotta warriors

XIAN (Shaanxi) • If you ever visit the famed terracotta warriors and find them a bit underwhelming, it might be because you have been taken to the wrong place.

The authorities in Xian, capital of north-west China's Shaanxi province, this week raided a resort and destroyed more than 40 copycat terracotta warriors.

The fake statues were found at a resort spanning an area of more than 600 sq m in Lintong, the same district as the Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang, founder of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), where the real terracotta warriors are found.

Offered high commissions, unlicensed guides and illegal taxi drivers often led unsuspecting tourists to the resort to see the fake warriors, confusing visitors and damaging tourism in the district, a local official said.

The official raid on Wednesday came after a tourist's complaint posted online on Jan 5 went viral.

A LESSER 'ARMY'

The pit for the fake 'terracotta warriors' is really small. They (the swindlers) made some warriors themselves and let others visit.

A VISITOR WHO WAS TRICKED, in a complaint which was posted online.

In the complaint, the writer claimed that Xian is "an interesting city, where both tourist spots and liars are interesting", the Global Times reported.

She said she was fooled by bogus policemen and unlicensed drivers into viewing the fake terracotta warriors last year.

"The pit for the fake 'terracotta warriors' is really small. They (the swindlers) made some warriors themselves and let others visit," wrote the visitor.

Many of those who were deceived did not report to the police, a Xian resident surnamed Zhang told the Global Times.

"Many people refused to report to the police unless they suffered big losses, and some local governments have been turning a blind eye to this for years," the resident said.

Officials said the district government have started an investigation to hold the relevant persons responsible and to prevent damage to the tourism market.

As the world's largest underground tomb, the 56 sq km Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang draws tourists from around the world.

An army of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses was discovered at the site in 1974.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'Fraudsters' feat of clay starts crumbling'. Print Edition | Subscribe