Shanghai’s infamous fake market on its last legs

Updated: 2016-07-02 01:48

By YU RAN in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Shanghai’s infamous fake market on its last legs

Most of the shops in Hancity will be closed by the end of June. yu ran / china daily

Shanghai’s infamous Hancity Fashion & Accessories Plaza, widely regarded as the go-to place for counterfeit goods in the city, is facing imminent closure as authorities move to strengthen the protection of intellectual property.

Shops from Shanghai Hancity Enterprise Management Co Ltd have already put up signs announcing the closure though the reason cited was that their businesses have been affected by the e-commerce boom.

There are currently about 300 stalls still open for business in the market, with almost all of them having clearance sales. Many of the owners are still awaiting the refund of their two-month rent deposits.

“The 10-year leasing contracts signed between the company and most of the stalls will end at the end of June,” said Yu Minqiu, a shop owner in the plaza who has been selling fake sports team jerseys for six years.

“I still have about 2,000 jerseys left to sell. I will sell each for 20 yuan but I don’t know whether I can even sell all of them before the closure, which still is not confirmed by the company.”

The four-story building located in West Nanjing Road has been a famous tourist attraction in the past decade. Here, visitors can find all sorts of fake products including art pieces, apparel, electronics, bags and kitschy Chinese propaganda. Hundreds of foreign travelers used to disembark from buses at the back entrance of the plaza every day.

Zhang Xia, a shop owner on the second floor who sells silk scarves and qipaos, said that the company that owns the building used to have partnerships with tourist agencies that help promote their businesses. It even post advertisements in Shanghai’s various expat communities.

Zhang added that most of the shops would relocate to places such as the shopping area at the Line 2 Shanghai Science & Technology Museum metro station.

“I come here with friends and my mother once a month to buy clothes, shoes, electronics and whatever I need as everything here is very cheap,” said Amber Hollis, a 16-year-old student at the British International School Shanghai.

Hollis said she wasn’t too concerned about the impending closure, saying that there are at least two other places in the city where she can go to buy fake items. Other students, however, have expressed dismay at the news.

“Many foreigners, particularly students like myself, rely on these places for cheap goods. It is a shame that the place will be closing down,” said Richard Britton, a Panamanian student from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China who often visits Shanghai to shop at Hancity.

This is not the first time that the local government has clamped down on counterfeit goods in the city. In 2006, the Xiangyang Road Market faced a similar fate.

According to the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court, one in six lawsuits received by the court in 2015 involved an overseas party and most of them were luxury brands such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci as well as Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. The foreign companies that were suing for trademark or patent infringements came from 15 countries and regions, including the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Established in December 2014 to strengthen the management of intellectual property disputes, the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court received more than 1,640 cases in 2015, a yearly jump of nearly 127 percent.

Vice president of the court, Li Shulan, said that IP cases have surged more than 20 percent year-on-year in recent years.