Yes, we all know the Chinese are good at copying stuff.
Recently, I read a feature by Forbes magazine on fake Zippo US Army lighters made in China. Apparently, the craftsmanship of these fake lighters is so precise that Zippo employees have no way of telling whether its a fake till they dismantle the entire lighter.
One copycat industry that never fails to crack me up is the Chinese automobile industry. You can view the "Top Ten Chinese Car Clone Gone Wrong" here. There are even fake Ferraris! To be able to copy a Ferrari is a class master act.
I think a lot lies in the confidence of the industry to produce quality cars with their own unique identity and branding. Surely, the world's most populous nation can produce a world class car designer with a lot more imagination and flair ?
To be fair, the auto industry in China is still fairly young, "copying" and "JV-ing" provides a quick plug to bridge the disparity with the auto industry here, to say, the Koreans and other lesser but more established marques. The build quality is still some way off (if you have sat in some Chinese made car, you would know what I mean) but it isnt too bad considering their short learning curve. The cars are priced right for the Chinese market too.
Didnt the world laughed at Hyundai when they rolled out their first series of cars too? Now, the Korean car-makers are starting to give the Japanese some problems in terms of pricing, value and build quality.
Given the shrewdness of certain Chinese businesses in processing information and transferred technologies, I personally think the Chinese auto manufacturers are not too far off in challenging shoulder to shoulder with the world's more established marques. Nanjing Auto's recent acquisition and production of MG cars is yet another sign of the increasing ambitions and confidence of auto manufacturers here.
This is one industry to watch out for. Give them another ten years, maybe even five. I think the world would be in for a big surprise.
On the subject of cars still, Shanghai Auto Show is coming:
The 12th International Automobile & Manufacturing Technology Exhibition
April 22,2007 - April 28,2007
Shanghai New International Expo Center
2345 Longyang Road,Pudong,Shanghai
Official web site here.