Prevalence of Fake Goods and Emphasis on Surface Appearances

The China of today is in the spotlight for all the right and wrong reasons. While it has become an economic powerhouse, thanks to its enormous population and how “united” the country is, there is the fact that some problems continue to haunt it today, problems which may have stemmed from the 5,000 year old civilization that most of the Chinese owe their practices and beliefs to.

For one, most people outside of China are aware of the prevalence of fake and counterfeit goods in the country, which is a huge factor that affects plenty of factories in the Middle East, Africa, and South America.

While it may be hard to exactly pin-point why the Chinese are so good when it comes to counterfeiting and plagiarizing almost anything you can think of, one possible explanation maybe due to their long-standing tradition of thinking that imitation and/or copying is a way of learning, showing admiration and respect.

With the Chinese language consisting of thousands of characters, the learning of which is only possible by copying all of these and memorizing them, their tendency and proficiency in doing the same for just about everything else may just be a byproduct of this.

For visiting entrepreneurs and businessmen, the barrage of counterfeit products may be hard to get used to, given their obvious similarities to their legitimate counterparts. This takes us to another of the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese people – their emphasis on surface appearance.

Roots of Emphasis on Surface Appearance

While counterfeiting may result from the tendency of the Chinese to copy everything in order to learn their native language, the emphasis on surface appearance may be the result of their old tradition of making sure that everything must look good, both in literal and in metaphorical sense, which means that things must look good at first glance.

This emphasis on surface appearance, however, leads to deception, because of how the “insides” or the quality of the things that “look good” are often poor.

Common examples would be low-quality counterfeit handbags, DVDs, and clothes, which do not perform nearly as well as their legitimate counterparts, and the huge number of modern Chinese buildings with modern appearances and poorly designed interiors.

Implications on Modern Chinese Culture

The Chinese habit of emphasizing surface appearance and imitation has extended further than just Architecture and/or The Counterfeiting of goods.

In fact, according to Business Insider, China cannot crack down on counterfeit goods without putting a lot of stores out of business. This lack of regard for intellectual property rights and copyright gives China a real competitive advantage among global players. There are even various categories of fakes, and some A+ fakes are reported to be even better than the real thing!

These habits also have various negative manifestations within the Chinese culture, such as their tendency to falsify documents and resumes to make their credentials look better, the prevalence of non-functional government agencies, etc, of which any interested investor, businessman and/or entrepreneur will have to understand deeply first before committing to any business venture in China.

Next: Preference for Indirect Communication