China is a great nation with a rich heritage, and all of
the Chinese people I've met have been honorable. Yet China has a major problem with fakery, a problem for the rest
of the world as well as itself. China is the world's capital of counterfeiting, with coins, antiquities, fossils,
computer software, music CDs, movie DVDs, books, paintings, clothes, sneakers, jewelry, watches, handbags, toys,
sporting goods, film, batteries, food, baby formula, pet food, medicine, cars, car parts, trucks, and much else.
The Chinese make these goods, copying a major brand. But instead of putting their own label or logo on any given
product, they put the brand's logo on the product to try to fool consumers into thinking that the company behind
the brand, and not the Chinese copyist, made it. They often succeed. China is the worst country in the world in
terms of counterfeiting, according to the International
Intellectual Property Alliance, with Russia, Italy,
Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, India, Taiwan, and Portugal following in order. China not only is the worst
country in the world, it appears to make far more counterfeits than all the other countries in the world combined.
China is the source of about 80 percent of all counterfeit goods seized at U.S. ports by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Entire factories, even entire towns in China, have been built specifically to produce
According to Dan Chow, a law professor at Ohio State University who specializes in Chinese counterfeiting and who
was quoted in a CBS News story, "We
have never seen a problem of this size and magnitude in world history. There's more counterfeiting going on in
China now than we've ever seen anywhere. We know that 15 to 20 percent of all goods in China are counterfeit."
According to attorney Harley Lewin, who has been going after counterfeiters from China for more than 20 years and
who was quoted in the same CBS News story, "[Chinese counterfeiting] is the most profitable criminal venture,
as far as I know, on Earth."
China has a big problem with counterfeiting of its own currency, paper money as well as coins, according to counterfeit
Matthews. The Chinese police periodically seize
fake large quantities of Chinese notes and coins.
China also has a big problem with the faking of its own past. Chinese antiquities shops and markets consist almost
entirely of fakes, as reported in an article at the China Daily Web
site. Professor Yang Jingrong stated that 95 percent of all antiquities sold in China are modern forgeries. Chinese
antiquities shopkeepers for the most part appear to knowingly sell fakes as authentic under the subterfuge that
it's the buyer's responsibility to determine authenticity.
Many Chinese counterfeit goods are shoddy or dangerous, using low-grade components or ingredients. Chinese imports
into the U.S. in general account for more than 60 percent of product recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Chinese consumers also suffer from shoddy counterfeits. Horrible incidents have been reported
multiple times in the news of dozens to hundreds of Chinese babies dying or getting sick after being fed counterfeit
baby formula, laced with a deadly chemical to make a diluted product appear to have a higher protein content.
The 2008 Olympics demonstrated to the world just how ingrained fakery is in Chinese society today. China faked the opening ceremony, using digital effects for the televised proceedings instead of real fireworks, as later revealed by a Chinese newspaper; it faked its "national
unity" parade by contending that children wearing costumes of different ethnic groups consisted of ethnic minorities when in fact they were all
of the Han majority; and it even faked
the age of its female gymnists, breaking the Olympic rules, to let underage children compete.
The problem of Chinese counterfeiting has gone on for years and appears to just worsen over time. Fakery in China
seems to be official government policy or at least officially tolerated. Whenever major news of Chinese counterfeiting
surfaces in the West, the Chinese government takes highly publicized and sometimes dramatic but ultimately superficial
steps to try to stop it. The true nature of official Chinese attitudes is more likely along the lines of statements
from Chinese officials saying that counterfeiting is the cost that foreign companies must pay to be able to do
business in China.
Chinese officials have also been quoted as saying the international press exaggerates the issue, and they have
accused Chinese journalists of faking news reports of fake Chinese goods. Chinese journalists have in fact been
caught faking. But much bigger than the problem of faking by Chinese journalists is the problem of faking in Chinese
society as a whole.
China is a developing country and doesn't appear to recognize international law regarding intellectual property.
To the Chinese, copying is entrepreneurship, with copyrights, trademarks, and patents being foreign concepts and
largely ignored. Chinese society as a whole in its energetic drive toward economic prosperity seems to have chosen
fakery as a shortcut, ignoring conventions in the rest of the civilized world.
When Japan was transforming itself into an industrial power in the years following World War Two, it also competed
by making low-cost goods. But for the most part it didn't try to deceive by putting fake labels of companies from
other countries on these products and trying to create the impression that these goods are of the same quality
as those put out by these companies and are warranted by them. Japan proudly labeled its low-cost goods as "Made in Japan" rather than using fake labels as China does.
On the other hand, China has a rich cultural, scientific, and intellectual heritage. From the time of Confucius
and Lao-Tzu, China has contributed to the betterment of civilization. Today, China also makes many authentic, original
Coinage has a long history in China, with the first Chinese coins thought to have been minted at about the same
time as the first coins in Asia Minor.
The following six silver dollar forgeries were bought in China by a businessman at a flea market from a Chinese
seller who was selling them as authentic old U.S. coins. The seller's asking price for these pieces was the equivalent
of about $28 each. The businessman wound up buying them for less than $1 each, which of course is less than their
face value. The businessman emailed me their images to help in the counterfeit education effort.
The 1804 dollar fake below is the same type as the 1800 fake that I call "Lightweight" on the previous
page of this site. All of these fakes appear to
have come from the same forgery workshop, which would mean that they're made of copper-nickel, not silver, and
weigh between 18 and 21 grams, substantially less than the correct weight of around 27 grams.
Fakes of this type regularly appear on eBay, sometimes sold as fakes, sometimes sold as replicas, sometimes sold
as authentic coins, sometimes sold as coins that the seller found in his grandmother's attic, and though he doesn't
know if they're real or not, they sure look old to him. Many other Chinese counterfeits of U.S. dollars and other
coins are out there as well, put out by other Chinese forgery factories. Some coin dealers in California report
receiving about one phone call a day asking whether the old U.S. coins the person just bought on the street are
real. One person emailed me about a dozen U.S. silver dollars he bought "cheap" in California that turned
out to be magnetic, indicating an iron content, which no authentic U.S. dollar coins have.
Some Chinese forgery criminals sell marked replicas on eBay in large quantities. According to several people, all
you have to do is ask and the Chinese seller will sell the same pieces to you not marked as replicas. Legitimate
replica makers refuse to do this. The quality reportedly ranges from very obvious to very deceptive. Chinese forgery
factories appear to be using eBay in this way to find wholesale buyers of their work. This has the potential of
flooding the world's collectibles markets with ever more Chinese fakes.