Posts Tagged ‘shanzhai’
:: I was recently reminded of this photo I took in Xinjiang, China last year of the not so famous shanzhai brand Worker Worker Black Labial. The shop also carried a number of other less-known brands, but unfortunately the owner was a little reticent to have me photograph any more. // XD
[Xiao Du (小杜) is a guest contributor on 56minus1]
:: Chen Zhao Rong (陈昭荣) dreamed of flying. Despite not being able to read English and with only a primary school education, Chen scoured through foreign-language flight Web sites, checking out pictures and schematics, before finally starting to build his very own helicopter.
Chen made and welded all the body parts himself, checking his design against photo’s on the Internet as he progressed with his work plan. After the body was built, he bought a secondhand engine and mounted it.
With a total cost amounting to less than RMB 70,000, and a little over 2 years of development, Chen finally achieved his dreams and made a flying helicopter.
He now had a flying machine, but he still needed to learn how to properly fly it.
For the first few months, every time he started up the engine, the whole village would come watch. It took him another 6 months before he was confident enough to take flight.
His first successful flight took him 1 meter off the ground.
Soon enough, he was flying 6 meters above the ground and then eventually above his 5 story building – he was afraid to go higher.
It took him another few months to be comfortable turning and landing his aircraft with ease.
Unfortunately, in May 2008, while flying to another village, he lost power at a speed close to 70 km/s and crashed his helicopter in a nearby field. Although fearing the engine would explode, he survived the crash and managed to walk home in one piece.
His wife was not so happy though, and left him for a week, threatening to leave him for good unless he stopped flying.
News about Chen’s exploits also reached the local police who subsequently made him sign a document stating that he wouldn’t fly again.
In the end, he sold his helicopter parts to a friend for RMB 20,000.
He still hasn’t given up on his dream though, and his fame lives on in the Internet, where thousands of people watch in awe at the video of his flight. Flying dangerously close to power lines, buildings, and somehow landing in one piece. // XD
[Xiao Du (小杜) is a guest contributor on 56minus1]
:: this kinda baffles me. Double Star (双星), a well-known, longstanding, and hitherto legit Chinese sneaker brand, appears to be shanzhai’ing its competition. I took this picture at an official Double Star store in Chengdu over the weekend. Also worth noting, while walking by a local soccer pitch, I saw kids in Chengdu wearing many (MANY) different kinds of shanzhai’ed Feiyue – at least a dozen unique varieties. What is going on? This is great! // AjS
Interestingly, when I tried to go to Double Star’s official Web site (www.doublestar.com.cn), Firefox and Google presented me with the below friendly messages. Honestly, can a brand get any dodgier?
:: you’re traveling to another dimension… To a world of imagination… A world without proper IP regulation… A world devoid of taste or design sensibilities… A world where products are so bad that they become good again. A world called….The Shanzhai Zone. Welcome!
…and just in case those of you want to think different, you can now also get the iPhone Air.
[Xiao Du (小杜) is a guest contributor on 56minus1]
:: in the spirit of World Consumer Rights Day (March 15), I’ve been compelled to voice my consumer opinion on something that really pisses me off. And it’s not the typical case of foreign companies ripping off or insulting Chinese netizens, etc. This time, it’s the other way around. Here goes…
56minus1 is constantly spammed by this Web site: www.52jordan.com (52 in Chinese net-speak means “I love.” It’s a phonetic play on the Chinese phrase “I love,” which in Mandarin has a similar pronunciation as the numbers “5″ and “2.”)
Being the sucker (and Jordan fan) that I am, I recently gave in and clicked on one of the site’s links. I suggest you try it too, then come back.
OK, now that you are back, I’m sure you found the same dodgy site that I did: one that presents itself, atrociously, as a legit reseller of Nike Air Jordan, Air Force 1, and Air-Max series sneakers for only USD 85 or less (shipping included). Preposterous indeed, but, that’s what they say they are (sorta). From the site’s About Us section:
“We are a professional & reliable supplier of series of innovative, authentic & inexpensive Nike shoes with original box and retro card from China, such as Air-Jordan（1-23), Air-Max, Air-Force 1, etc.”
The site is riddled with suspect content. Google search any line of text from the articles presented in the News section to see that they have all been copied-and-pasted from random, unrelated third-party sites without any sort of citation. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Oddly, the site is also mirrored (in full) at www.kissaj.com, www.gogoaj.com, and www.jordansport2.com.
I often see this kind of stuff on the Chinese Internet (in Chinese language) and think nothing of it because it targets Chinese consumers who are familiar with such scams and either know better or simply don’t mind not getting the real thing, etc. (However, I still don’t think any Chinese consumer would pay RMB 600 for knock-offs). But, I worry that those outside of China may not know better. Maybe they would. Sigh…
I wanted to learn more about this operation, so I added the Web site’s posted MSN instant messaging contact information (firstname.lastname@example.org) to my MSN account. This, and an email address, was the only contact information made available. Below is a slightly edited and translated transcript of the IM conversation I had with the “customer service” staff at www.52jordan.com. Interesting and bizarre. You draw your own conclusions, but, in doing so, please share in this post’s comment sections. The full Chinese (and Italian!) transcript of the original conversation can be found here.
56minus1: Hello? Anyone here?
52jordan.com: Yes, what can I help you with?
56minus1: Hi, I saw your 52jordan.com site, not bad! The problem is, my English is not so good so I can’t understand. Do you have a Chinese version?
52jordan.com: No. We only sell to foreigners / foreign markets. Sorry.
56minus1: I’m a foreigner, it’s just that my English sucks.
52jordan.com: Where are you from?
52jordan.com: What’s your phone number, I’ll give you a call. We have staff here that can speak Italian.
56minus1: I can’t talk on the phone now because I am at work and my boss will hear me. Hahahaha. I collect Jordan sneakers, but they are very hard to find!
52jordan.com: That’s OK, we’ll call you back after you get off work.
56minus1: I just want to learn more about how to buy the shoes because I can’t read the Web site on my own. They are so cheap, such a good price! How can they be so cheap? Are they fake? Are they “shanzhai’d” versions?
52jordan.com: Haha. Send me your postal address in Italy and then I will tell you how to purchase from the site.
56minus1: My postal address? I just want to know if they are real Jordans or not.
52jordan.com: Sorry, I must first confirm your postal address in Italy before answering your question.
56minus1: Okay, Fine. My address in Italy is Via Filippo Turati 3, 20121, Milano. [56minus1 editorial note: this is the address of AC Milan's stadium.]
52jordan.com: I am sorry, my Chinese is bad, can you tell me what “shanzhai’d” means?
56minus1: It just means fake, as in not authentic. They are so cheap on the Web site, so I’m curious to know if they are legit Nikes or what? I don’t get it.
52jordan.com: I’m sorry, let me have my colleague talk to you in Italian. My Chinese is not so good.
56minus1: Okay. But I think your Chinese is good enough to answer my simple question. Before switching over to your colleague, can you first answer me? I don’t care if they or fake or not, I will still buy them, I just want to know what I am actually buying.
52jordan.com: Ho potuto fare nulla per voi. Scarpe sono vere. È acquistare scarpe. (Italian, clearly via Google Translate, meaning: What can I do for you? The shoes are real. Do you want to buy?)
56minus1: Scarpe sono vere? (Italian, also via Google Translate, meaning: The shoes are real?) Really?
52jordan.com: Dove sei persone? (English: Where are you?)
56minus1: Milano, Italy. It seems your Italian is not so good either. How about we just use Chinese?
52jordan.com: Look, if you want to know about the shoes, just buy a pair and you’ll know, no? I think answering your question directly is pointless. What’s most important is that you first buy a pair and judge for yourself.
56minus1: Hmmm :-( If they are fake, I think the price should be cheaper. If they are real, it’s a great price and I may buy multiple pairs. So are they real or are they fake?
52jordan.com: They are real. Will you please give me your phone number so I can call you. We are very professional and will provide you the best service. I’m sorry, but we are closing up shop now. Please send me your phone number. We have 24 hours service.
56minus1: What? 24 hours service? How can you have 24 hours service and tell me you are “closing up shop?” Are the shoes really real?
52jordan.com: Sorry, we are all getting off work now. We’ll call you later if you give us your number. Don’t worry, we will take care of your service needs. Or, if you have more questions, we can chat again tomorrow.
52jordan.com: contact status changed to offline
:: a young man in Guizhou, China (Kaiyang county) has revamped / shanzhai’d an old-school Changan pick-up truck, turning it into a trick car capable of spectacular 360 degree drifting maneuvers. At the 4:21 mark, watch him manage a parallel parking stunt with a high-speed, 180 degree drift. Well done, bravo. // AjS
:: this is a follow up to a few previous posts I’ve done on Chinese brand sneakers (here, here, and here). On my way back from (one of my many trips to) the water cooler today, I spotted the office Ayi (custodial staff), Zhang Ayi, sporting these rad trainers. Check them out below. Maybe a hybrid shanzhai’d effort of the Mizuno and (so cool if so) Kangaroos logo? Oh the memories, K’roos’ zip-pocket sneaker design dominate my youth. Two words: milk money. But, who would shanzhai Mizuno? Maybe. Unlikely. At any rate, Zhang Ayi informed me that she purchased these for RMB 20 at a shop in Shanghai on Jiangning Rd. // AjS
:: today at a small shop on Dagu Lu (right next to the Alley #489 gate) in Shanghai I came across a pair of shanzhai’d Feiyue (飞跃) sneakers called “Feiyin.” (RMB 18) Compare the photos below with the real thing.
At the same shop I also found some Rongguang Brand (荣光牌) sneakers, which I had never heard of before and still cant find any info on. I don‘t know who is shanzhai’ing who, but these look almost identical to The People’s Shoes (人民牌) that I recently introduced here. Interestingly, a pair of Rongguang Brand is shown on the “The People’s Shoes” web site (see the fourth picture). [UPDATE: Anton Brandt from The People's Shoes has informed me that they in fact work together with Rongguang Brand to produce their shoes.] For RMB 20, you too can be the proud owner of a pair of Rongguang Brand. (RMB 20)
This shop also had Chinese electrical workers’ boots. I picked up a pair for RMB 18. // AjS
:: …first came the original, Huili / Warrior (回力), priced between RMB 30 – 65…
…then came the, also original, Feiyue (飞跃) sneaker, priced between RMB 30 – 65…
…now there is The People’s Shoes (人民牌), a modern, higher-quality and more comfortable, hybrid version of the above two, by Anton Brandt (who, by the way, is cool enough to donate a portion of the brand’s profits to The Starfish Project, a Cambodia-based humanitarian organization), priced at USD 42 (RMB 285)…
…similarly, there is also OSPOP. (One Small Point of Pride.)‘s Skywolf sneaker line by Ben Walters, priced at USD 76 (RMB 520)…
…which is essentially an indie-hipster remix version of Tianlang’s (天狼, literally “Skywolf”) classic revolutionary-flavored Chinese military / migrant worker “liberation shoes” (解放鞋), and also the timeless Chinese electrical workers’ “boot,” priced between RMB 10 – 35…
…and of course, let us not forget about the recent return of traditional Chinese “cloth shoes” (布鞋) to the modern fashion scene, priced between RMB 10 – 30…
:: Chinese netizens enjoy playing with language online. They make up new words, insert alphabetic and numerical abbreviations between Chinese characters in their posts, write backwards and upside down to trip-up the censors, and trade catchphrases with wild abandon.
To outsiders, however, conversations full of acronyms, ancient characters, and allusions (sometimes quite obscure) to Chinese culture / history is quite difficult to understand.
To help with the “decoding,” below are some basic explanations of frequently-used vocabulary by Chinese netizens:
visual pun: “囧” [pronounced “jiong,” in this case; other times pronounced "jing"] ::
After becoming widely used online in China, the past couple of months have seen this character explode into mainstream media / culture. It’s been splashed onto the cover of books and magazines, in advertisements, and on clothing. The obscure Chinese character 囧, which originally meant “bright,” looks like someone gaping in astonishment, so Chinese netizens reinterpreted it as a general response of helplessness or gloom. Sam Flemming of CIC talks a bit more about it here. Also, a number of well-known Web sites have sprung up around 囧 culture: 阿囧 | 囧客官方 | 囧人王国 | 囧的官方网站. Some other online visual examples of 囧: link.
catch-phrase: “economize: drink maotai” ["节约点，喝茅台" pronounced "jie yue dian, he mao tai"] ::
[Warning, this is very funny] The latest online catch-phrase was inspired by a report about a government official in Sichuan who beat up a liquor seller for overcharging on a bottle of Maotai alcohol. The explanation given: “Director Cao wanted to economize, because money is tight at the personnel bureau and he still owes money for house repairs.” Chinese netizens are always quick to pick up on hypocrisy, particularly on the part of local governments – the irony of a bureau director claiming to want to save money by buying China’s most famous brand of alcohol (and beating someone up over it) was too good to pass up. [link]
visual Pun: “槑” [pronounced “mei”] ::
An obscure alternate form of 梅, plum, the character 槑 is formed from two characters, which means “dull / stupid / foolish.” Chinese netizens use it to refer to anyone who is especially slow-witted. Because it kind of looks like two people standing next to each other, it shows up quite a bit in cartoons and image macros alongside 囧. Another adapted character, 雷 (“thunder”), is used to mean “shock.” For something especially shocking, the character is tripled to produce this character: 靐 (pronounced “bing”). [link] [link]
describing the opposition: FQ, JY, BS ::
When Chinese netizens aren’t having fun playing with catch-phrases and characters, they’re likely arguing with each other, employing shorthand / acronyms to refer to their opponents (and themselves too). FQ means 愤青 (pronounced “fen qing”), “angry youth,” and is used dismissively to refer to ultra-nationalist netizens (of which there are plenty). Some FQ have tried to reclaim the term as a badge of pride. On the other side are JY, 精英 (pronounced “jing ying”), “elite”: intellectuals who tend to be liberal and supportive of universal values. A third abbreviation, BS for 鄙视 (pronounced “XX”), “despise or disdain,” is tossed around by netizens on both sides of the aisle.
modifier: “山寨“ [pronounced “shan zhai”] ::
The word 山寨 literally means “mountain fort” or “village,” but is also used as a modifier meaning “knock-off,” to describe off-brand / fake products manufactured in small, tucked-away shops in Chinese villages. Some of these no-name brands have begun to advertise using celebrity-lookalikes as spokespersons. Knock-off F4, knock-off Emil Chou, and knock-off Jay Chou have all turned up in advertisements, drawing mockery from Chinese netizens. The term is even being applied to Chinese remakes of foreign TV and movies.
[Friday 5 is the product of my work at Edelman Digital (China). Link here for the full Friday 5 archive. If you'd like to be added to the bilingual (English & Chinese) Friday 5 email distribution list, please send me an email at: adam DOT schokora AT edelman DOT com.]