Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

China: A Pirate's Market Again?

Dec 14

Written by:
12/14/2008 5:22 AM  RssIcon

Do harder times mean the return of knock-off goods to China's streets? 

There’s a lot of talk about fakes being back on China’s streets because of the global economic slump. I’m not so sure. First of all, the economic slow down isn’t so apparent in China, which has a lot more growing to do. It may be more to do with Mp3s and the fact that gadget-friendly Chinese, who never really got used to tapes or CDs in the way that music geeks spend hours poring through the content in a Dublin or a New York music shop. China has had pirates and stores of counterfeit product for as long as it has had CDs and DVDs. And now that its easier for local music fans to load up for free from the Internet, they’re not even bothering to pay RMB10 – a euro – for the pirated CDs they used to buy. I got to thinking about this the other night when pedaling home through the Sanlitun bar area. In 2003 on most street corners here there was plenty of pirated product to be had by itinerant salesmen setting up shop atop a cardboard box. They’ve all disappeared, as have the characters who beat a nightly circuit of local bars with suitcases of RMB5 (EUR0.50) CDs and RMB7 (EUR0.70) DVDs – for economy and easier carrying packed in soft plastic packaging rather than the elaborate casings you get in local shops – which also sell counterfeits. The latter have survived, though in lesser numbers and some, like my local audiovisual store, sell genuine product now. Open till 11 every night, the store is located right opposite a police station, so the owners are obviously law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.

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