The “Shanzhai” Fake Product Concept is Not New in China

The Chinese term “Shanzhai” literally means “mountain village” or “mountain stronghold”. But in modern Chinese, usage of the term is derived from a way in Cantonese slang to describe products of inferior quality or, more commonly, products which are imitation or fake. Now, it is well-known that China has unfortunately been a major global source of intellectual property rights violations for decades. In recent weeks, for example, we have reported the stories of the fake Apple and Ikea stores in Kunming in China’s southern Yunnan Province. And these are great examples of how imitation products and retail fakery in China have entered a new dimension of pervasiveness and boldness. At the link, you’ll read an analysis by a Chinese blogger who intends to conduct a research project on the Shanzhai phenomenon in China. After reading the text and looking at the accompanying images, you’ll be struck by, or reminded of, how much fakery occurs in China, and how some of the most famous brands and icons have been tweaked. Another aspect of the Shanzhai phenomenon touched upon in this blogger’s post is the concern and interest China’s fake product and design activity is causing within the global advertising, design and art communities. And frankly, we don’t blame them for being worried. (The Creators Project – Shanzhai Fakery in China)

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