The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Walking through the central streets of Laos' capital Vientiane last week I chatted with a Chinese family from  Yunnan (the southwestern province which borders Laos) running a shop to shift counterfeit music and film products. A copy of the U2 Popmart tour DVD costs 11,000 kip in the store, the same as it costs in Beijing.

Counterfeits are geting scarcer at home - there’s less pirate CD and DVD product on the streets of Chinese cities – but China’s counterfeiting problem may simply be exported to neighbouring states.  Packaging of the Chinese fakes is slicker, often indistinguishable from the real thing, whereas in Vietnam the packaging is often badly photocopied inlay cards wrapped around a pen-marked disk straight out of a stationery shop. The Vientiane store was identical to the countless others which used to proliferate in Chinese cities: shelves of recent releases and staples by favourites like U2, Eric Clapton and Westlife. It also reminded me of similar stores I've seen in Ulan Bator, capital of China's northern neighbour, Mongolia. 

Industry coalition groups have been saying that makers of fake clothes, software and CDs are increasingly aiming for export markets: EU authorities claim that 70 percent of counterfeits seized at EU ports in 2007 came from China. Given that customs check, on average, less than five percent of containers going through China's jammed-busy ports, it's not surprising that a half dozen boxes of audiovisual product goes undetected, hidden in the front end of a container of fruit or furniture.

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