Pirated Products are Sold Underground in China

By Ding Li, Voice of America
January 15, 2006 Updated: January 15, 2006

BEIJING – China has progressed in its protection of intellectual property, as observed in the abating sales of pirated compact discs in both stores and on the streets; however, the phenomenon persists. Below is a special report from Beijing made by Voice of America correspondent, Ding Li.

Host: Mr. Ding Li, based on your observations, do you think the sales of pirated compact discs is diminishing in China?

Ding Li: Yes. Several years ago when I was in Shanghai, on the Huaihai Road, I saw peddlers vending VCDs of American movies in broad daylight. But this time, when I was in Beijing, I could only find stalls vending pirated items after 9 p.m. in the underground passages around Wanfujing Street. The peddlers who used to sell counterfeit brand-name items in the Xiushui Market told me that they no longer blatantly display counterfeits, and instead, they hide them under the table, only revealing them upon a customer's request.

Host: A couple of years ago, there were women who sold pirated CDs on the streets in Beijing while holding a baby. Are they still there?

Ding Li: Some are still there, but I didn't see anyone holding a baby. When I was in front of Beijing's Scitech Shopping Center, someone offered to sell me VCDs of newly released American movies. I could tell that they were counterfeits because U.S. movies usually won't be released on discs until about half a year after the films' theatrical release, as to not affect the movie industry. It is very likely that these counterfeit VCDs are the so-called “cam movies,” which is a theater rip-off usually done with a digital video camera.

I also found quite a few of these types of street peddlers with different accents at Beijing's “Buy Now Square,” a busy market featuring electronic products. Even though I rejected the offer and kept walking, some still followed me closely, attempting to persuade me into browsing their “articles.” A woman said that in addition to the original uncut version, she also had good quality blockbusters.

Host: Do the shops in the “Buy Now Square” sell pirated compact discs?

Ding Li: There are quite a lot of anti-piracy slogans in that building and some of the firms do sell genuine products. However, while I was in a store contemplating whether or not I should buy a set of computer software for over 80 dollars, a clerk quietly offered a “simple packaged” version for only ten dollars. After taking a look at it, I found that there was no packaging and marking on the so-called “simple packaged” version. As a matter of fact, it was simply the software copied onto a blank disc. The clerk also showed me a catalogue with over ten different kinds of pirated software.