Chinese Counterfeiters Use Social Media to Dodge the Law

Shanghai street

China has long been known as the world’s largest producer of counterfeit goods and, despite recent crackdowns by the Chinese government, the country’s counterfeiters appear to remain one step ahead of authorities. The latest trend causing frustration for the Chinese government is the use of social media to not only market fake goods, but also to sidestep laws and regulations.

Counterfeiters are marketing fake big brand products on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and then accepting orders through common messaging applications like WeChat. This method means transactions that would normally be classed as e-commerce can instead be considered “friend-to-friend”, making it nearly impossible for the government to take action.

The counterfeit goods trade has been on a steady rise for decades, with an even more dramatic increase being documented since 2013. Chinese authorities are eager to eradicate the counterfeit industry, and have taken many measures to achieve this. Online retailers can now expect hefty fines if caught selling fake goods. Most markets and bazaars selling cheap imitation watches and bags have been shut down, and e-commerce giants such as Alibaba are pledging to ban counterfeit products and to blacklist vendors guilty of selling, or attempting to sell, fake goods.

However, despite all these measures they are yet to make serious headway, much to the frustration of authorities and luxury brand owners, with many predicting that we will continue to see the sale of counterfeit products rise for years to come.



Online Channels used by counterfeiters

Infringements on marketplaces

How WeChat became the app that China cant live without