China is the world leader counterfeiting; according to the Directorate of Foreign Economic Relations the counterfeit market in China represents roughly 15 to 30% of the country’s industrial activity. Moreover, 80 percent of counterfeit products in the world are produced in China. Counterfeiting is part of Chinese culture; even Deng Xiao Ping introduced new reforms to develop the Chinese economy to encourage replicating Western techniques.
What seems to me, an American, as odd, illegal, or wrong is completely acceptable all over Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing… China in general! There is a cultural explanation for this phenomenon; unlike in Western cultures where individualism prevails, most East Asians have a communal spirit. Therefore, copying is not seen as bad because it is considered a form of sharing for Chinese people.
So how can a Westerner take advantage of these age-old cultural norms in China? By buying fake goods from the fake market!
If you like designer goods, but don’t have a thick money-roll you can purchase Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermés, and any other thing under the sun for a fraction of the cost. Of course the quality is more than likely going to be a fraction of the original, but they can usually pass an eye-test from your average viewer.
I ended up wanting to try out my luck at the fake market and went to a couple here in Shanghai! There are fake markets all over the city, like in Gubei there is the Pearl Market, in West Nanjing Road there is a fake market, there is a fake market in the subway station of Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, fake goods in Nanpu Bridge, and there is also the market at Qipu Road (Cheap).
I decided to go to the Nanjing Road fake market and made a couple purchases. After going through the hidden doors in the back of shops, and getting shown the A-grade fakes, I looked through a catalogue and the seller brought me the goods for me to inspect. After lengthy negotiations, I bought a fake Prada bag ¥200, fake Nike shoes for ¥100, and a fake Abercrombie sweatshirt for ¥70! So all for about $60USD!! Winning in China!