Intellectual property

Posted By on November 15, 2007

Travel in China even a little and you can’t help reconsidering the notion of intellectual property. There’s so much opportunity here, so much energy, so little notion of and respect for ownership. That’s why street vendors badger you with fake Rolexes and Breitlings, why bootleg DVDs sell for $3 and $4, bootleg CDs for even less. A place like the Silk Street Market in Beijing’s Chayoang District is fabulous because things there are such a deal: Many are bootlegs, and even though the quality varies, the price is better than right.

I don’t know where I stand on this issue, because intellectual property is something I value, particularly since I generate some “intellectual property” of my own. Maybe there are so many counterfeits in China because the originals cost too much. Maybe when the Chinese middle class gets even stronger — and it’s booming now — people will buy the originals at full retail, but I doubt it.

Which leads me to my next brainstorm: a Chinese travel portal aggregating hotel, air, cruise and rail, linked to every major hotel brand including international and domestic. It would also link to third-party vendors like Travelocity and Expedia and, like many such sites, provide information and personal reviews (and perhaps blogs) of the components of the travel experience. The portal would have to be in both English and Chinese and likely would be based in Hong Kong, where government regulations are more lax than on the mainland. The first cities on the menu would be Beijing and Shanghai, mainly because Westerners already know them, or at least recognize their names. It’s an idea.

By the way, I really liked Shanghai. More cosmopolitan than Beijing, and more Western, it’s even bigger. But you can walk around downtown, the people seem friendlier, and there’s a gregariousness to it that’s more engaging than Beijing, which seems more formal.

No conclusions here, just an update. Since my post about being conned in Beijing’s Forbidden City, things have gotten better. China’s unbelievable and very exciting.


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I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: