I’m Martin, a new Marketing intern at the InternChina Qingdao office. It’s my second time in China – I love this country ! I am also quite interested in fashion and the concept of counterfeits.
Before I came to China, I knew that China was infamous for its counterfeit items. In many countries and even in France, where I come from, the local authorities are working hard to reduce the amount of available counterfeit items. But the first time I came to China in 2016 in Nanjing, I was impressed how easy is it to find fake things and how it is displayed shamelessly by market seller on streets or in mall, or by people. Sometimes there can be some great high-quality fakes, sometimes there can be some really terrible fakes. Look at these Abibas and New-Barlun branded shoes ! Or this Abiboss sweatshirt (a great mix between Hugo Boss and Abibas brand) and this CEANHL bag, interesting Anagram.
Where can I find fake branded things?
You can find these fakes everywhere ! You can find them on the internet on sites like Taobao, in souvenir shops, and also in big markets. In these places, you need to bargain. While you can find these markets all over China, I will talk about the ones I know in Shanghai, where you can meet so many foreigners eager to find cheap fakes. In Shanghai, so many French visitors come to the market that some sellers have even learnt how to say the prices in French ! The starting price can be as much as five times higher than the true value of the item.
What products can be counterfeit?
Well-known and luxury brands are often imitated – you can find a lot of fake Louis Vuitton and Chanel products. You can also find fake tech, including cheap Beats by Dre and even fake smartphones ! There have been copies of the Apple iPhone called Goophone on the market. Even worse, in 2011, a string of fake Apple stores were found across China. In the same vein, in Qingdao, i’ve seen a lots of fake branded shops, in a mall that seemed normal, like a lot of copy of Polo brand. Or a Enzo shop. (Just one K and its ok)
Shan Zhai (山寨)
This trend of counterfeit products is not just a few sellers in markets. It can be considered a serious business model here in Chins. Due to a mix of history, culture and a pragmatic economy, business based on fake and pirated products has its own name in Chinese : shanzhai. The Shan Zhai model works thanks to more than 60% of Chinese people living in rural areas that are imitating the consumption trend in urban areas. This model has allowed some companies to break into a new market. For example, we can talk about Tencent’s QQ instant messaging service which is a carbon copy of the Israeli messaging service ICQ. Now, QQ is one of the most popular instant messaging services in China, and floated on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2004. Indeed, it is for some companies a way to start with nothing by pushing down the cost of R&D and then implement new features to existing products to better fit the local needs and expectations. Some people defend the Shan Zhai model, saying it brings economic and social benefits by providing customer more choice at lower price. Foreign companies complain about the lack of strict rules concerning property rights in China, and trying to push Chinese governments to strengthen their control over counterfeit.
If you are interested to visit fake markets and experience China, don’t hesitate: https://internchina.com/apply/
Tamara completed a 6 month internship at InternChina Chengdu in Marketing and Business Development. Here she reflects on her experience:
6 months, 3 seasons, 16 weeks of Chinese classes, 2 big delegations, endless amazing moments, situations and laughter- my time in Chengdu passed by in what feels like the blink of an eye. Because I wrote my introduction blog in English and would like to reach as many people as possible with this, I decided to write my final blog in English instead of German as well.
The overall experience was nothing less than amazing and I can totally recommend it to anyone who just thought about coming to China for even one second!
Because of my internship at InternChina I was able to spent time with the most incredible people from all different parts of the world, see beautiful parts of China, fall in love with Sichuan food (it’s hard to imagine my life without a little 花椒 Huajiao here and there!), develop my professionalism, learn Chinese, build my own 关系 Guanxi, make amazing Chinese friends, grow as a person…I could continue this list forever.
Getting Used to Chinese Life and Business
Of course it wasn’t unicorns and cotton candy all the time. Committing to come to a country you’ve never been to before and you barely (if at all) speak the language is not easy. Getting used to the noise, the manners, the amount of people and the culture is not easy. There have been moments when I was desperately looking for some kind of normality, the kind of normality I was used to- the well-organized, structured German normality. But you get used to the Chinese way of doing things much faster than you think! Once you start to embrace the differences instead of comparing two completely different cultures, countries and societies with each other constantly, you will be rewarded with one of the most incredible experiences in your life!
I admit, it did take me a while to get used to the way business is conducted here and to understand how things work in China. The importance of relationships and networks cannot be compared to anything similar in Germany. For this reason in particular, I was astonished to see how smoothly I got accepted within some of these groups as a foreigner with barely any Chinese skills.
The People – Chinese and Foreign
The appreciation and genuine interest I experienced from the Chinese people I met here literally blew me away! I have never been in a country where it is so easy to get to know people and make new friends. As a foreigner in China, especially in the 2nd tier cities, you are always something special but it is you who decides if you want to be stay put in the 老外 Laowai category or become something more by surrounding yourself with locals. And it doesn’t really matter whether these people are friends of your friends, the internship supervisor of one of our companies or the sweet 老板 Laoban of the restaurant you like to go to for lunch. All these were people I met and either became friends with or at least attached to.
Chengdu – Why I Won’t Forget You
Looking back now, I would actually state that I stayed in China a little too long because I managed to adapt pretty well if I may say so myself. I made friends, rediscovered my passion of dancing, found the the hidden spots in the city, discovered the best restaurants and managed to show all these places to my fellow interns and friends. I never expected Chengdu to become the place that it is now for me, a place where amazing memories reside- the city definitely has a very found place in my heart.
I can say for 100% that I will always look back at this time with a smile on my face and refer to it as one of the most challenging, exciting but also rewarding experiences in my life. I am so grateful that I was given the chance to leave my comfort zone and get to know so many inspiring and amazing people.
Come to China!
So again- if you´re thinking of coming to China to get some work experience do it- you won’t regret it! Thank you Chengdu and IC-family for all the memories!
To start your own adventure in China, apply now!