He’s one-third of the price of an original, just as squeezable, and the kid won’t tell the difference between the real and a fake Hai Bou. Sure, the official Shanghai Expo mascot , a water droplet with limbs, has better embroidery on the label and comes inside a sturdy box. The ones sold in street markets and subway tunnels are a bit dusty, but for most children, that doesn’t matter, when they know that the alternative is a colored pencil set with a notebook,.
Now the commercial police in Zhejiang have spoiled the discount business by busting the village workshop that produces fake Hai Bou dolls. Have the vigilant cops nothing better to, like search for melamine-tainted ice cream?
Presumably, people who have the money to fly to Shanghai, stay at an overpriced hotel, buy an Expo ticket, and dine on absurdly expensive meals inside a pavilion – certainly can afford the “real” Hai Bou dolls at the Expo site. The “real” brand factories have already made their profit, so why feel sorry for them? The rest of the 1.5 billion whose disposable income barely covers the next TV program still happen to have kids who want Hai Bou.
The media chatter about the growing divide between rich and poor. Well, the only reason that there’s not more class warfare is because the poor can get their very own fakes. Fake Nokias, counterfeit LVs, ersatz Nikes and fraudulent Olympics mascot dolls – the villagers are happy.
That’s what’s panicks the global design houses, which are now celebrating the First Wanfujing Brand Festival. The EU has set up a special bureau to defend Europeans from the threat of sensible prices. Like an army of Inspector Clouseaus, they put the brass fittings of handbags under the magnifying glass and sniff out the zippers of Versace blue jeans. Thanks to their tireless work, the Ladies Market in Hong Kong now only offers souvenirs for foreign tourists. The forbidden thrill of tagging a 40RMB Rolex inside the Forbidden City is a thing of the past. We are all poorer now.