BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - China’s latest frontline in its war against piracy is your TV.
“Collecting Everything Under Heaven” is China’s latest hit television show where participants bring in their porcelain and antiques to be authenticated by experts.
Only real ones survive. Fakes are smashed to pieces right there and then.
Audiences also take part in evaluating the antiques. Host Wang Gang, one of China’s most famous actors, walks around with the hammer.
Wang is a collector himself. He said he wasted huge amounts of money buying fakes before learning a lesson.
“We must eliminate the false and retain the true. I want to shock people with a smash. After it, people start to think,” he told Reuters.
“Fake will always be fake. Fake should never be sold as real. People shouldn’t be making money off of selling fakes.”
Three collectors from different parts of China gather on the 90 minutes program to show off their collected items, ranging from vases to plates which they either bought or were gifted.
Collector Wang Feng was one of the unlucky ones.
Wang was her teacher’s favorite student in high school and was gifted a vase upon graduation. The 12-year-old present is now in pieces.
“I felt really uncomfortable when my piece was smashed,” she said. “It accompanied me for many years like a friend even if it’s a fake. I felt bad and cried.
“But when I think back now, it’s okay because it’s a fake anyway. I’m after real ones anyway,” she added.
China is considered the largest source of pirated goods in the world, causing billions of dollars in lost sales to makers of everything from music and movie DVDs, designer clothes and consumer electronics and software. Even medicines are copied.
Beijing has several antique markets. Panjiayuan is the biggest and best known for selling thousands of real — and fake — antiques.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the market is packed with buyers from dawn till dark, looking for “Ming dynasty” vases for $15.
China’s state media China Radio International quoted a Forbidden City Museum expert describing the fakes in the market as part of the culture.
Zhai Jianmin, a Hong Kong based collector, flies to Beijing every now and then to appear on the show. He said he used to work as a policeman in the collectors’ market.
“This is going to be an endless game,” he said of cracking down on piracy.
Bian Yiwen, creator of the show, is aware the program is a very small effort against a long and difficult war.
“When the show is on air, when Wang Gang’s hammer is smashing up a fake copy, there are so many fake copies being manufactured at the same time,” he lamented.
“So we can not stop the overflow of piracy. But what we are doing on stage is a symbol. Just like related government destroying fakes, like pirated DVD or even drugs, it’s all about symbolism.”