China Knockoff Craze Gains Steam, Courage

Shanzhai culture shifts from brand names to national symbols
By Kristina Loew,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2009 12:27 AM CST
Film star Jackie Chan will be among those participating in CCTV's lunar new year variety show; the web version may be slightly less professional.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – An internet variety showed parodying the annual lunar new year gala on Chinese central TV is just the most publicized knockoff generated by the country’s rebellious shanzhai culture, the Wall Street Journal reports. Once mainly the province of counterfeit name brands (think HiPhone), the web now is awash with puckish counterfeits of official symbols, like shanzhai pandas—dogs trimmed and dyed to look like the bear.

“The shanzhai culture as … a parody to mainstream culture can add fun to our daily lives,” reads an editorial in an official state newspaper. “However, we should remain vigilant against it as a justification for rip-off products.” One media critic enjoys the burgeoning self-expression: “It gives people another choice and the possibility of resisting dominant cultural values.”