Shanzhai – Junk You Want to Have
When a gadget addict finds themselves in Shenhzen, it's like an alcoholic being in the best wine cellar, a drug addict on a coke plantation, a sex addict in a harem or Charlie Sheen in all three places at once. The most stupid electronic junk can be bought here for the smallest price in the world and it is possible to have a good time too.
In the vicinity of Shenzhen tech giants, which function on an international level as serious and respectable companies (Huawei, ZTE, Foxconn…), dozens of small gadget factories have surfaced up. They make gadgets which can seldom be seen outside China, let alone bought. Using a great concentration of engineer work force in the vicinity and special favorable business circumstances which the state has secured exclusively for this region, they are trying to make a quick buck creating something that is called ‘shanzhai’. These are poor, yet very cheap, knock-offs of iPhones, iPads and similar famous devices, as well as cheap gadgets which are not copies of other devices, but are simply – of poor quality.
As Shenznhen is only 40 kilometers away from Hong Kong, Luo Ho Commercial City was opened along the very border with Hong Kong, a building much like any other shopping mall, but whose stores largely sell ‘shanzhai’. This term translates from Mandarin as ‘enclosed mountain estate’, which is a bitter euphemism for family factories where such devices are manufactured, and as it sounds like Shenzhen, visitors from Hong Kong often say they are going to ‘shanzhai’ when they are heading for some cheap shopping at the Luo Hu Commercial City, across the border.
As like on any other fake market in China, haggling is a mandatory part of the shopping ritual, thus the price of a knock-off iPhone can be reduced to some 10 percent of the starting price. This ritual is by no means brief or harmless and those with more patience and convincing bargaining skills do better. Visiting this building will entertain you quite a bit as Shenzhen is otherwise huge and boring. Plus, you’ll take an electronic device with you which will entertain your friends for the few days it will work before you return home.
This is what Luo Hu Commercial City looks like. Apart from shanzhai, you’ll find many cafes here, as well as diners with authentic regional cuisine, stores with fake watches, clothes and handbags, however, if you are a gadget buff – you know what you’ll spend your time on.
The biggest shanzhai offer includes smartphones, tablets, notebooks, headphones, cameras… We have famous names, like Sony, Apple, Samsung, LG or HTC, except that they have not been manufactured by Sony, Apple, Samsung, LG or HTC.
This is what a fake iPhone 4S looks like. After some haggling, you can get it for $30 to 40.
This is what a fake ‘mini iPhone’ looks like, even though Apple has not invented it yet. Isn’t it adorable? Wouldn’t you give $25 for this technology wonder?
BlackBerry is a thing of the past when it comes to the smartphone market – everyone is clear on this one. But not BlueBerry! At least as long as there is Luo Hu Commercial City and as long as it costs only $20.
You can’t go back home without getting a toy for your kid. Why not chose this previously unlicensed analogue match of Angry Birds, for just $10?
If you offend the sellers by offering a price which is too low for their shanzhai, they will ironically respond by offering you s so-called dummy for the same price – a plastic iPhone model or a similar device, without any electronic parts under the hood…
Bye-bye Luo Hu Commercial City, the fun was great and cheap. The next stop might be equally fun, yet expensive – when we encounter the customs officers upon entering our country…