Egypt has vented fury at China after a full-size replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza reappeared in north of the country two years after pressure from Cairo seemingly forced it to be torn down.
The dispute began in 2014 when the statue was erected in Hebei province, sparking protests from ministers in Egypt that it was “a bad imitation that disfigures the original”.
Cairo complained to Unesco, the world heritage agency, saying that the structure violated international conventions as it was being used as a film and TV filming location.
At the time, officials at a theme park which erected the structure denied it was an insult to Egypt’s cultural heritage. But they appeared to have backed down to demands for it to be demolished when they removed the head from the 20 by 60-metre statue in 2016.
However, Chinese news website guancha.com reported that the head has recently been re-attached to the replica Sphinx.
The news has reigniting the anger of Egyptian heritage officials, prompting them to return to Unesco.
“The Ministry of Antiquities is taking measures through the Unesco because it is a violation of the Egypt’s intellectual property and eventually China will remove the fake Sphinx,” Ashraf Mohi Al-Din, General Manager of Giza Pyramid Plateau, told The Daily Telegraph.
He said that Egypt is not concerned that the Chinese Sphinx will deplete its tourism numbers because “no one will leave the original Sphinx and go to visit the fake one.”
But China has, in fact, built at least three fake Sphinxes to compete with the original – not to mention a replica Tower Bridge, Eiffel Tower, Parthenon and even a Henley-on-Thames.
China’s two other Sphinxes were built at theme parks in the north-western city of Lanzhou and the eastern province of Anhui, although it is unclear if they are still standing.
Mr Mohi Al-Din said that the site of the Giza Pyramids is preparing for a major revamp which will be completed by the end of the year.
“Ninety-five percent of these developments are already finished and we are anticipating the inauguration of a new image of the Pyramid Plateau,” Mr Mohi Al-Din said.