Expo 2010 Counterfeits: The Walls Have Been Breached!

The superlatives attached to Expo 2010 – the Shanghai World’s Fair – are various and numerous: it is the biggest Expo site, with the most countries participating, and – guaranteed – the best attendance, in the history of the Expo movement. Less discussed, but just as notable, is the fact that Expo 2010 is the most secure Expo in history, as well. Or, at a minimum, it sure looks secure: fences and soldiers surround the site, attendees are required to subject themselves to metal detectors and their bags to x-rays. The situation is often so heavy-handed that staff at several pavilions have taken to calling this Expo, the Gulag Expo (riffing, of course, on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago).

So it came as no small surprise to me when, last night, while I was strolling through the busiest part of the Expo (in front of the Spanish pavilion), I came across a tout selling counterfeit Expo 2010 key chains and other knick-knacks to enthusiastic Expo attendees.

Allow me to put this in perspective: three touts selling counterfeit Expo goods at Expo is akin to  three touts selling counterfeit Mickey Mouse key-chains in the heart of Disney World – a Disney World rung by fences and guarded by thousands of national guard members, police, and private security guards. And I’m not the only blogger to notice this phenomenon: DeluxZilla, apparently, had it ten days ago. He suggests that the touts are getting the goods into the park by having accomplices toss them over fences. I suppose that’s a possibility. But I think the more likely explanation is that somebody – I don’t know who – has good reason (I’m putting this delicately) to ignore the situation.

In any case, let this serve as a new datapoint in the ongoing discussion of whether China can, or even wants to, enforce intellectual property laws. After all, if not at Expo, where?


  1. I saw these guys inside the Expo a month ago when I visited. I wondered the same thing – how they managed to get them inside when I could barely get a cigarette lighter through.

  2. Gulag Expo. That’s a good one. How many times have we seen people buy their way past security in this country? Nothing new here.

  3. You’ve got to appreciate the hypocrisy in going heavy-handed for a three-month Expo party, and having security enforcement of counterfeit goods be a problem.

  4. The other week we found somebody selling fake stuff with our pavilion logo on it around the corner from us in the middle of the Pudong site. We were angry about this mostly because we had trouble getting some of our merchandise through Customs when Expo opened. But for some reason the criminals can get fakes into the Expo. Gulag Expo is right.

  5. Talked to some of the guys here about it. A few have been sneaking in as well just to cat around. They say it’s easy to slide through the main gates during busy hours.

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