Why Americans Give in to Shanzhai Culture

Why Americans Give in to Shanzhai Culture

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Today, most Americans find satisfaction in buying whatever is trending in popular culture. Whether it’s getting their hands on the latest iPhone or buying a pair of the ever-coveted Yeezys, consumerism is embedded into the heart of America’s culture. Ever since the industrial revolution. The practice of buying products at excessive amounts and the idea of “more is better” has long been part of the American lifestyle. However, with the country’s crashing economy, people are spending more than they are making. This leads to a variety of problems, especially when consumers can no longer afford their expensive lifestyle. In comes China with its products that closely resemble the latest trends, but at a significantly lower price.

China has long been known for producing and exporting fake goods, otherwise known as
“Shanzhai”. In fact, the country is notoriously known as the top manufacturer of counterfeit products, taking credit for around 90 percent of all counterfeit goods. One cannot look at a “Made in China” tag without thinking twice if what they are holding might be a knockoff. This goes to show how big of a problem counterfeiting has become in the US. What makes it even worse is that many Americans knowingly patronize such products in order to fit in.

To get a better idea of how much Shanzhai culture has influenced our society, experts summed up the ten product categories that have lost the most money to counterfeiting. Some of these categories include footwear, apparel, automotive, gadgets, bags, watches, and pharmaceuticals. In fact, the total market value of seized counterfeit products in the US last year translates to around $1.7 million had they been genuine. On a global scale, counterfeit products account for $250 billion a year in lost revenue.

As the counterfeiting game continues to grow, more Chinese businesses emerge into the market with a reputation for imitating certain brands. An example is Miniso which has marketed itself as a Japanese brand, but in reality is a Chinese retailer and store chain. This has definitely affected the already strained relationship between China and Japan. It has been known that the two countries have been at odds with each other over the Nanjing Massacre debacle.

Now, both countries have one more reason to criticize each other. The Chinese company is already receiving plenty of backlash for imitating the aesthetic of Japanese brands such as Uniqlo, Muji, and Daiso. Japanese critics also accused Miniso’s products of being “made in China to look Japanese”.

By patronizing counterfeit merchandise, consumers not only devalue the brands being imitated, but they also threaten the country’s competitiveness and innovation in business, the livelihood of workers, and national security. They are also risking their own health and safety by patronizing fake drugs. However, it is not just these fake drugs that pose a risk to consumers. Counterfeit electronic gadgets can also be dangerous if their batteries or wirings were made poorly. These gadgets could cause an explosion or even cause a fire at the hands of consumers.

In spite of all the risks of buying fake goods, some Americans do not really see what’s wrong with buying them or maybe they do see the problem, but they just don’t mind it. Because of this, the US remains to be the top destination for knockoffs. The reason behind this lies at the very core of American culture. People may think that genuine brands charge too much for their products, so buying counterfeit goods is their way of “beating the system” and establishing their status in society. However, they do not realize how much of a bigger problem they are creating by supporting this industry.

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