Knock-Off Irony

While cleaning up my scrapbooking room, I came across mementos from our trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. These mementos reminded me of a post I intended to write after the trip, as it struck me as ironic while we were in China. The irony? There were no knock-offs of Olympic paraphernalia while we were in Beijing. You could only find Olympic gear at actual events and at the Olympic Village. We all assumed there would be opportunities to buy all over the city, and figured we could find cheaper prices at the markets. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the only place to find Olympic items was at the over-priced, sanctioned events!

China is known for knock-offs of brand-name everything, from purses and shoes to DVDs and software. It’s just ironic that they managed to rid the city of black-market knock-offs for the Olympics. I assume it was part of the country-wide campaign to put their best foot forward as they stepped onto the world stage. But it does make you wonder: why can’t they control this issue with other manufactured items in the country? Are there just too many factories to oversee, too few incentives to stop the illegal sale of knock-offs, or corruption that makes it profitable? Several locals mentioned that many people in China were not supportive of hosting the Olympics, as it caused financial and emotional disruption for a lot of the population, particularly in Beijing. Maybe the lack of Olympic gear was somewhat of a boycott by the citizens of the city? This seems pretty far-fetched though, as the government continues to maintain a tight reign on citizens’ rights and daily lives.

While I’m not sure why we couldn’t get knock-offs of the Olympic gear, I am sure that this should help the rest of the world take a stand against the sale of knock-offs. This proves that China does have some ability to police the manufacturing industry, and that by partnering with other countries, counterfeit items on the market could be reduced. It further points to the deeper issues with copyright laws in China, and that those laws can be upheld when the world requires China to protect them.

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